Science Books

I like books on genetics, neurology, medicine, pharmacology, disease and evolution.

Synaptic Self Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are by Joseph LeDoux

Prerequisites: Some biology/chemistry terminology and the ability to remember terminology - brain anatomy not necessary but helps to paint a proper picture
Tone: Somewhat dry in spots, but very informative.

Neurology books are seldom an easy read, but this is the most accessible volume I've come across, and it has some fascinating tidbits of information in it.  It might scare you as to how much is known about the brain, but then you'd be aware that your fear was merely the result of your amygdala setting up your prefrontal cortext to pay attention to a threatening stimulus :)

This book attempts to answer some interesting questions of consciousness, and as such starts with quite a smattering of philosophy (just as Walter Freeman's "How The Brain Makes Up Its Mind" does - I never would have thought philosophy makes such inroad into the profession :) and does a passable job at that.  You'll be amazed at the detail with which some things are known and what's still up in the air.  The research on emotion and motivation will lead you to perhaps think that Star Trek's Vulcans are an impossible construct who would never even get out of bed (yes, yes, only if they were as 'perfectly logical' as they purported ;).  The insights into depression and anxiety are fascinating, and add some clarity to the roles of drugs, psychotherapists and patients, and how well they work together.

I find it pretty spooky, myself, how much experimentation with rats applies to humans.  Talk about conservation of function over the aeons :)

First Aid for the Wards: Insider Advice for the Clinical Years by Le, Bushan et al. First Aid for the Wards

Prerequisites: A fair bit of biology and medical terminology - capacity for acronyms
Tone: Brisk, straight to the point, practical.

An interesting insight into what goes on in the hectic lives of medical students thrown into the practical world in a ward setting, this is a book of advice and practical examples from students who have been through the wringer. Who you have to deal with, how you should write up reports, who's in the ward you can ask for help, how to come out looking like a team player, and what special skills and know-how you'll need when you go on rotation through the various departments.

Also has a valuable rating system at the end of chapters of books you can use to further your study; what to buy if you can afford it, what to avoid and why.

To me, it was an interesting technical/political view of what goes on behind closed doors as medical professionals try to keep up with the patients in the hospital and the queues in the waiting room. I have deep respect for anyone who can survive this process and not take it out on their patients :)

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