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BrainWaves: The Neuroscience Graduate Program Newsletter

Open your MiND: BrainWaves Book Suggestions

Author:Vidhi Patel

With the weather getting warmer, it’s a great time to take a break from reading papers and enjoy a nice book outside. But what should you read? Luckily, the BrainWaves team has compiled some book suggestions that we have enjoyed and think you will too! We have also included some quotes from each book to give a glimpse of the subject and writing style.


Cutting for Stone - Abraham Verghese

“The key to your happiness is to own your slippers, own who you are, own how you look, own your family, own the talents you have, and own the ones you don't. If you keep saying your slippers aren't yours, then you'll die searching, you'll die bitter, always feeling you were promised more. Not only our actions, but also our omissions, become our destiny.”

The Prophet - Khalil Gibran

“The timeless in you is aware of life's timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today's memory and tomorrow is today's dream.”

“Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.” But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”

Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“If you don't understand, ask questions. If you're uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It's easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here's to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding.”

Fiction - Series

Beloved- Toni Morrison

“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”

“Love is or it ain't. Thin love ain't love at all.”

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy- Douglas Adams

“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”

A Court of Thorns and Roses - Sarah Maas

“Don't feel bad for one moment about doing what brings you joy.”

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion

“Humans often fail to see what is close to them and obvious to others.”

“But why, why, why can't people just say what they mean?”


When Breath Becomes Air- Paul Kalanithi

“Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.”

“You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.”

Just Mercy - Bryan Stevenson

“There is a strength, a power even, in understanding brokenness, because embracing our brokenness creates a need and desire for mercy, and perhaps a corresponding need to show mercy. When you experience mercy, you learn things that are hard to learn otherwise. You see things you can't otherwise see; you hear things you can't otherwise hear. You begin to recognize the humanity that resides in each of us.”

Lab girl - Hope Jahren

“Science has taught me that everything is more complicated than we first assume, and that being able to derive happiness from discovery is a recipe for a beautiful life.”

“Working in the hospital teaches you that there are only two kinds of people in the world: the sick and the not sick. If you are not sick, shut up and help.”

From the Ashes - Jesse Thistle

“Mom used to think I was mute, but I could speak fine, I just chose not to. My words belonged to me, they were the only thing I had that were mine, and I didn’t trust anyone enough to share them.”

Educated - Tara Westover

“The thing about having a mental breakdown is that no matter how obvious it is that you're having one, it is somehow not obvious to you. I'm fine, you think. So what if I watched TV for twenty-four straight hours yesterday. I'm not falling apart. I'm just lazy. Why it's better to think yourself lazy than think yourself in distress, I'm not sure. But it was better. More than better: it was vital.”

Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life- Christie Tate

“That was how I’d always imagined the surface of my heart—smooth, slick, unattached. Nothing to grab on to. Unscored. No one could attach to me once the inevitable heat of life bore down. I suspected the metaphor went deeper still—that I was afraid of marring my heart with the scoring that arose naturally between people, the inevitable bumping against other people’s desires, demands, pettiness, preferences, and all the quotidian negotiations that made up a relationship. Scoring was required for attachment, and my heart lacked the grooves.”


Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions – Johann Hari

“What if depression is, in fact, a form of grief—for our own lives not being as they should? What if it is a form of grief for the connections we have lost, yet still need?”

Atomic Habits– James Clear

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for A Hat - Oliver Sacks

“If we wish to know about a man, we ask 'what is his story--his real, inmost story?'--for each of us is a biography, a story. Each of us is a singular narrative, which is constructed, continually, unconsciously, by, through, and in us--through our perceptions, our feelings, our thoughts, our actions; and, not least, our discourse, our spoken narrations. Biologically, physiologically, we are not so different from each other; historically, as narratives--we are each of us unique.”

Science/ Health

The Code Breaker - Walter Isaacson

“The beauty of nature and the joy that comes from unstructured human engagement is a powerful combination.”

Being Mortal- Atul Gawande

“In the end, people don't view their life as merely the average of all its moments—which, after all, is mostly nothing much plus some sleep. For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story. A story has a sense of a whole, and its arc is determined by the significant moments, the ones where something happens. Measurements of people's minute-by-minute levels of pleasure and pain miss this fundamental aspect of human existence. A seemingly happy life may be empty. A seemingly difficult life may be devoted to a great cause. We have purposes larger than ourselves.”

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot

HeLa cells were derived from the subject of this book, Henrietta Lacks. At the time she was not aware that her cancer cells would be used for research and “launch a medical revolution and a multimillion-dollar industry.” Rebecca Skloot published this book with the help of the Lacks family to narrate Henrietta Lacks’ story as well as bring attention to ethical issues of class and race in medical research.

A Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking

“Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?”