Wonderful. Illuminating. Full of insight, beauty and-humor.” -David Eagleman, author of Incognito and Sum
This month’s gatherings will be hosted by Helen Griffin on April 13th and 27th at 2pm at 1370 Armstrong Dr.
TheSelf Illusion is about the science of self-the truth behind the illusion that we all share, that we exist as individuals inside our bodies and are in control of our own thoughts and behaviours. Recent developments in neuroscience tell us that we consist of a multitude of unconscious mechanisms interpreting the world, yet we are largely under the influence of those around us. We are not the individuals we think we are. The truth-that our self is a narrative our brain creates-may startle those of us who fervently believe that we are in full control of who we are and what we do.
Bruce Hood, a world-renowned expert on the brain, reaches deep into our evolutionary past to find out what makes us tick. He reveals fascinating original research about child development and ultimately takes us inside our own heads to explain how and why we act the way we do, even in the new frontier of Twitter and Facebook.The Self Illusionis a highly accessible, often entertaining and ultimately provocative book about the nature of you, yourself and I
All are invited to join us at our March book club meetings, which will be on the 9th and 23rd at 2 pm at the home of Joan Higginson, 86 Auburn St.
This inspiring, exquisitely observed memoir finds hope and beauty in the face of insurmountable odds as an idealistic young neurosurgeon attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living?
At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.
What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.
Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.
This is the non-fiction book club selection for February, We will be meeting at the home of Gillian Trowbridge, 24 Cricket Place., February 9th and 23rd. All are welcome to join in these thoughtful discussions.
Artists as well as scientists throughout human history have pondered this “beautiful question.” With Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek as your guide, embark on a voyage of related discoveries, from Plato and Pythagoras up to the present. Wilczek’s groundbreaking work in quantum physics was inspired by his intuition to look for a deeper order of beauty in nature. In fact, every major advance in his career came from this intuition: to assume that the universe embodies beautiful forms, forms whose hallmarks are symmetry—harmony, balance, proportion—and economy. There are other meanings of “beauty,” but this is the deep logic of the universe—and it is no accident that it is also at the heart of what we find aesthetically pleasing and inspiring.
Wilczek is hardly alone among great scientists in charting his course using beauty as his compass. As he reveals in A Beautiful Question, this has been the heart of scientific pursuit from Pythagoras, the ancient Greek who was the first to argue that “all things are number,” to Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, and into the deep waters of twentieth century physics. Though the ancients weren’t right about everything, their ardent belief in the music of the spheres has proved true down to the quantum level. Indeed, Wilczek explores just how intertwined our ideas about beauty and art are with our scientific understanding of the cosmos.
Wilczek brings us right to the edge of knowledge today, where the core insights of even the craziest quantum ideas apply principles we all understand. The equations for atoms and light are almost literally the same equations that govern musical instruments and sound; the subatomic particles that are responsible for most of our mass are determined by simple geometric symmetries. The universe itself, suggests Wilczek, seems to want to embody beautiful and elegant forms. Perhaps this force is the pure elegance of numbers, perhaps the work of a higher being, or somewhere between. Either way, we don’t depart from the infinite and infinitesimal after all; we’re profoundly connected to them, and we connect them. When we find that our sense of beauty is realized in the physical world, we are discovering something about the world, but also something about ourselves.
Gorgeously illustrated, A Beautiful Question is a mind-shifting book that braids the age-old quest for beauty and the age-old quest for truth into a thrilling synthesis. It is a dazzling and important work from one of our best thinkers, whose humor and infectious sense of wonder animate every page. Yes: The world is a work of art, and its deepest truths are ones we already feel, as if they were somehow written in our souls.
Our book this month is “The Impossible Will Take a Little While” by Paul Rogat Loeb. What keeps us going when times get tough? How have the leaders and unsung heroes of world-changing political movements persevered in the face of cynicism, fear, and seemingly overwhelming odds?
The book this month will be The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew — a moving father-son reconciliation told by a charismatic First Nations broadcaster, musician and activist.
The January meetings of the book club will be January 8th and 22nd at 2pm at the home of Ed Adams, 1042 Oriole Dr. Our book this month is Unlikely Utopia by Michael Adams. Around the world, sectarian tensions divide societies, sometimes erupting into violent...
Our book for this month is Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. When it comes to the inescapable realities of aging and death, has medicine run counter to what it should do?
Our book this month is The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere, by Pico Iver. It considers the unexpected adventure of staying put, and reveals a counterintuitive truth: the more ways we have to connect, the more we seem desperate to unplug.