My Latest Listens

Your Brain on Art by Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross

This book examines ‘neuroaesthetics’- in other words, how our brains and bodies transform when we participate in the arts. I chose it because I’m interested in the emerging area of ‘social prescriptions‘ and ‘aesthetic prescriptions’ for mental health and other illnesses. The authors draw on a huge range of studies to support their thesis, and although much of it wasn’t entirely new to me, there was certainly lots of interesting detail (for example, learning dancing for improvements in mobility for Parkinson’s patients).

The definition of ‘art’ was probably a little broad (there’s a whole section on being in nature and the positive impact on the brain, and forest-bathing), but perhaps that’s a positive, and provides a gateway for anyone wanting to include more art, or art more mindfully, in their lives.


Undoctored by Adam Kay

Adam Kay’s sense of humour – dry, self-deprecating, but always maintaining a solid narrative arc – is exactly my thing. The story of his kidney stone and his subsequent ‘worst wank’ (which included the line ‘…I’d managed to cause some kind of log jam. It was like shooting birthday cake out of a water pistol‘) is a perfect example. If you’re feeling slightly traumatised by that birthday cake bit, know that the story ends well (with him passing the stone) –

To say that I was disappointed by the size of my tormentor is an understatement. I was expecting a barbed-wire pineapple. Instead, it was more like something you might scrape from your eye in the morning.

Kay’s observations and ability to create visuals that you can’t unsee is brilliant.

I didn’t want to sour the mood so I internalised it as IBS.

There’s an extra frisson when you’re a patient in America. Whether you’ll survive and whether you’ll still have a house to go back to.

 An extra star for the story of when he came out to his grandmother on their way to Christmas lunch (and her response was dismay that she didn’t have a present for his partner – awww!).


Cursed Bread by Sophie Mackintosh

A gothic novella with a dark romance infatuation angle. Mackintosh carefully meters out the suspense. The main character’s motivation is obvious and straight-forward, which provides a stark contrast to the unreliability of the other characters. Interestingly, the story is inspired by a true event in the French town of Pont-Saint-Esprit, where the residents were poisoned en masse by ‘cursed bread’.


3 responses

  1. Pingback: 20 Books of Summer (except that it’s Winter) | booksaremyfavouriteandbest

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