For the record, I am not much of a Christmas person. I think the holiday has been horribly over-run by consumerism and materialism, and it makes me both sad and angry to hear about the pandemonium on Black Friday. I am pleased to say that my family (one side of it anyway) is moving towards a more reasonable “enjoy quality time together without gifts” type of celebration. Any gifts given will be purely practical. As it stands, “Christmas Shopping” in my family thus far has been an exercise in separately obtaining gift cards or entertainment items of equal value and exchanging them. I’d rather just get what I need and then enjoy a nice dinner and conversation without worrying about wrapping paper and boxes and things to carry home.
That all said, since part of my family does still subscribe to the “buy all the presents!” way of thinking, I still had to come up with a wish list. This year I asked for mostly books, and I ended up getting all the ones I asked for.
I don’t read much fiction anymore, but a friend of mine told me about one fiction book that caught my interest when I read the synopsis.
Wool (by Hugh Howey):
In a ruined and toxic landscape, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Sheriff Holston, who has unwaveringly upheld the silo’s rules for years, unexpectedly breaks the greatest taboo of all: He asks to go outside.
I’m a sucker for good post-apoc fiction, and this instantly got my attention and made me want to check it out.
Next are all the non-fiction books.
The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum (by Temple Grandin):
When Temple Grandin was born in 1947, autism had only just been named. Today it is more prevalent than ever, with one in 88 children diagnosed on the spectrum. And our thinking about it has undergone a transformation in her lifetime: Autism studies have moved from the realm of psychology to neurology and genetics, and there is far more hope today than ever before thanks to groundbreaking new research into causes and treatments. Now Temple Grandin reports from the forefront of autism science, bringing her singular perspective to a thrilling journey into the heart of the autism revolution.
Weaving her own experience with remarkable new discoveries, Grandin introduces the neuroimaging advances and genetic research that link brain science to behavior, even sharing her own brain scan to show us which anomalies might explain common symptoms. We meet the scientists and self-advocates who are exploring innovative theories of what causes autism and how we can diagnose and best treat it. Grandin also highlights long-ignored sensory problems and the transformative effects we can have by treating autism symptom by symptom, rather than with an umbrella diagnosis. Most exciting, she argues that raising and educating kids on the spectrum isn’t just a matter of focusing on their weaknesses; in the science that reveals their long-overlooked strengths she shows us new ways to foster their unique contributions.
From the “aspies” in Silicon Valley to the five-year-old without language, Grandin understands the true meaning of the word spectrum. The Autistic Brain is essential reading from the most respected and beloved voices in the field.
I have yet to write a comprehensive post about Autism, but it is a subject I have read a lot about and even have a personal connection to. I’ve heard Temple Grandin in interviews and listened to a review of her book, and it sounded fascinating and very well researched, so I am very exciting to crack this one open. There is also a hollywood movie made about Temple Grandin which seems to be a reasonably accurate biopic and will give you a sense of what she’s all about. I highly recommend it.
Animals Make Us Human (by Temple Grandin):
I actually don’t know much about this one, but since she wrote it and I’m interested in the subject matter, it was a no-brainer.
In her groundbreaking and best-selling book Animals in Translation, Temple Grandin drew on her own experience with autism as well as her distinguished career as an animal scientist to deliver extraordinary insights into how animals think, act, and feel.Now she builds on those insights to show us how to give our animals the best and happiest life—on their terms, not ours.
It’s usually easy to pinpoint the cause of physical pain in animals, but to know what is causing them emotional distress is much harder. Drawing on the latest research and her own work, Grandin identifies the core emotional needs of animals.Then she explains how to fulfill them for dogs and cats, horses, farm animals, and zoo animals.Whether it’s how to make the healthiest environment for the dog you must leave alone most of the day, how to keep pigs from being bored, or how to know if the lion pacing in the zoo is miserable or just exercising, Grandin teaches us to challenge our assumptions about animal contentment and honor our bond with our fellow creatures.
The Sports Gene (by David Epstein):
The debate is as old as physical competition. Are stars like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and Serena Williams genetic freaks put on Earth to dominate their respective sports? Or are they simply normal people who overcame their biological limits through sheer force of will and obsessive training?
The truth is far messier than a simple dichotomy between nature and nurture. In the decade since the sequencing of the human genome, researchers have slowly begun to uncover how the relationship between biological endowments and a competitor’s training environment affects athleticism. Sports scientists have gradually entered the era of modern genetic research.
In this controversial and engaging exploration of athletic success, Sports Illustrated senior writer David Epstein tackles the great nature vs. nurture debate and traces how far science has come in solving this great riddle. He investigates the so-called 10,000-hour rule to uncover whether rigorous and consistent practice from a young age is the only route to athletic excellence.
After listening to the interview with David about his book on the Probably Science Podcast, I knew I had to read it.
I didn’t ask for this one for christmas, but I have been reading it.
Wheat Belly (by William Davis)
Wheat Belly is a provocative look at how eliminating wheat—even so-called healthy whole grain wheat—from our diets is the key to permanent weight loss and can offer relief from a broad spectrum of health and digestive problems.
Drawing on decades of clinical studies and the extraordinary results he has observed after putting thousands of his patients on wheat-free regimens, Dr. William Davis makes a compelling case against this ubiquitous ingredient.
I’m a few chapters into this and it is certainly interesting.
I also recommend, if you are thinking about starting your own business, you will probably want to check out Tim Ferriss’ book “Four Hour Workweek” and Michael Gerber’s book “The Entrepreneurial Myth”.
And finally, my semi-regularly updated profile on GoodReads.