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Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine
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Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine

3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  210 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
Now, in Buzz, Stephen Braun removes the cloak surrounding alcohol and caffeine. In an entertaining blend of modern science and ancient lore, Braun takes readers on a remarkable tour of two substances as familiar as a cup of coffee or a can of beer and yet as mysterious and unpredictable as the spirits these beverages were once thought to contain. Much of what Buzz reveals ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 31st 1996 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 1996)
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May 09, 2011 DJ rated it liked it
Shelves: brain, health
Clearly Braun is not familiar with the recipe for modern pop science texts. Where are the extrapolations from statistically insignificant correlations to bold sermons launching the next consumer craze? Why have they been replaced with tempered, conservative statements accurately reflecting the uncertainty of the scientific process and our current state of knowledge?

Genre-bending accuracy aside, Buzz is a handy user manual for the human body and the two drugs you almost certainly abuse it with -
Jun 17, 2009 Jeff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For a book about liquids, rather dry.
May 17, 2010 Lauren rated it liked it
Well, I definitely had dust off my sixth grade science knowledge for this. Luckily, Dr. Braun is good at making things accessible for non-science types. Even better, he has the rare ability to give just the right amount of information and no more (something many lawyers would do well to learn). Interspersed in all of this are asides from history and literature, giving the book a more expansive feeling than if it were simply science. I never knew reading about alcohol and caffeine while not drink ...more
Don Cram
Jun 24, 2012 Don Cram rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I realize a non-fiction book discussing the scientific research on the effects of alcohol and caffeine is not the usual fare for fiction readers and writers. However, many of us who write include both substances in our daily routines. This book tells the story of alcohol and caffeine, what research has shown about their actual effects, and the hypotheses about how the brain and body respond to create those effects. I have taught high school chemistry and am sure anyone who has made it through hi ...more
Mar 19, 2010 Lisa marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
Notes from Starbucked

“Tea must be universally renounced. I myself must be weaned, and the sooner the better.” –John Adams in a letter to Abigail Adams, future president and revolutionary
“I asked Schultz if he agreed with those-including his former right and left-hand men, Behar and Orin Smith-who have claimed that Starbucks changed the world. ‘It’s a pretty arrogant thing to say, ‘We changed the world,’” he replied. ‘I don’t know if I’d say it like that I think we have managed to, with a simple
I checked this out from the library on a recommendation from bwanderson.

Braun discusses the physiological and psychological effects of perhaps the two most common mind-altering substances in a clear, detailed and occasionally humourous manner. Alcohol is his first target, and after a brief history lesson, he takes us on a tour of the body via an alcohol molecule. This "exceptionally pudgy dog" of a molecule can sneak into our systems in a multitude of ways and cause havoc in nearly everything i
Jan 30, 2015 Mina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was more science than lore. And that is not a bad thing!
I especially liked that the author mentions studies that have not been replicated (or that were faulty to start with). There's a lot of nonense that gets repeated, and it's good to have a book that sorts out the real facts.
I also like the author's general stance that there's enough variation among individuals that none of his information could ever be one-size-fits-all.
Mar 29, 2015 Logan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Accessible and easy to read. I didn't find the writing dry, but it definitely is more focused on the science than the lore of these drugs, so you have to be interested in that.

I would say where this book suffers is that it's slightly dated. In particular, the information around caffeine is somewhat anemic compared to the current day knowledge of its mechanisms. Still an informative read.
Stuart Bobb
Jan 19, 2016 Stuart Bobb rated it liked it
This was interesting to me, given my own experiences with caffeine and a good way to get a clear update on the latest thinking on how these drugs work on the brain.

It isn't long or engaging enough to quite earn a recommendation for anybody that isn't already quite interested in brain chemistry things.
Aug 07, 2011 Olivia rated it it was ok
I like coffee. I like non-fiction. I thought I would love this book and I just didn't. The chapters each open interestingly enough with a quote and an anecdote but then they drag on forever with a description of chemical and biological studies. I do not like chemistry nor do I like biology and unfortunately a large majority of the "science and lore" was dedicated to boring the pants off me with chemical compounds and how they affect every boring organ I've never cared to know more about. I need ...more
May 15, 2013 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013
Author made chemistry, molecular biology and neuroscience accessible and entertaining. I learned a lot from this book. Like why alcohol is both a stimulant and a depressant, how the body processes both alcohol and caffeine, and the little we do actually know about how they affect the brain. Especially interesting:
- stomach enzymes have more to do with alcohol tolerance than you think;
- while evidence suggests a genetic link for alcoholism, no gene has yet been isolated and the rate of alcoholis
Apr 16, 2015 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
My only real complaint about this book is that it's almost 20 years old. I now need to find a follow up that looks at energy drinks. Otherwise, this is a quick, informative read, that strangely made me want to watch The Magic Schoolbus.
Apr 08, 2014 Phil rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bright history of everyone's two favorite mind-altering substances. This is almost 20 years old, so it would be interesting to see how modern neuroscience and genetics have changed our view of how people react to these substances.
Dec 01, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun exploration of the world's favorite psychoactive drugs. It goes into detail on how both work, why we like them so much, and their repercussions. Great fun and a new way to think about your daily drink(s).
Amanda Keck
Oct 21, 2015 Amanda Keck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun and entertaining as well as informative. I can't help but wonder how much the research has progressed since this was published in 1996!
Josh Hamacher
Dec 17, 2011 Josh Hamacher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be a very enjoyable, very informative read. This short volume is a summary of the effects of caffeine and alcohol on the body and mind. It's clearly very well-researched (note that it dates from 1996, so I'm certain that there have been new discoveries since then). Braun goes into a fair amount of detail about the chemical pathways involved, but the basics should be a review for anyone who's taken a decent high-school biology class.

Despite the fairly technical nature this is a re
Pat Smith
Mar 29, 2015 Pat Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As good as a cup of ol' black coffee...or not?
Feb 23, 2014 Lawrence marked it as to-read
Jan 04, 2014 Trent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Out of 200 pages, I would say that between 150-160 pages were fascinating. We drink too much coffee and alcohol to not have a firm understanding of how these substances work. That is where this book shines, when he explains things from a biochemical perspective. Worth the read, and also a very easy read.
This is a non-fiction book. Interesting finding out what alcohol does on its way through your body, alot of chemical and biological descriptions. It did drag on a little though at times so one of those books you pick up and put down over time, for me anyway, overall good to learn some interesting scientific things about Alcohol and Caffeine.
Carole Bucher
May 12, 2010 Carole Bucher rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed the author's capacity to educate while entertaining. A little bit like Norman doidge's book on the brain only a bit more graphically detailed. I loved getting such a close up description of what actually happens to me when I do certain things to myself. I was very entertained and will probably read it again.
Feb 12, 2008 Melissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
must have read this a few years late (i got it used), because the pop culture references and humor missed their mark for me. interesting, but it was kind of like watching 200 Cigarettes in the movie theater only to leave in the middle for a smoke break. just kidding, i never did that.
Feb 09, 2008 Carl rated it liked it
Recommends it for: inquring iminds
Book about basic information on what Alcohol and caffeine does to the body.
B/B = Borrow
Bought this book to learn the effects of caffeine on the body, as I had given it up for 2 years, and longed for a Pepsi or a cup of hot cocoa...
Feb 20, 2011 Nicole added it
I don't remember why I grabbed this at the library but I am loving the scientific explanations behind why these drugs affect us.
Won't make me change my caffeine or alcohol habit. I may even start to combine them. Hello irish coffee.
Jan 20, 2012 Mister rated it really liked it
Very interesting stuff, if a bit dry in some points. However, seeing as the book is from the 90s, I must wonder if the information is as up-to-date as I'd like. I'll have to do some further investigations on my own.
Mr. Braun reminded me of a the myriad effects of alcohol and caffeine on the mind and body. I ended up skimming a fair bit because I didn't discover much revelatory information, much I wasn't already aware of.
Jul 16, 2013 Ruby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Buzz is the perfect combination of scientific information with light hearted humor and real case studies. It's a fascinating look at how little we know about the effects of the world's two most popular drugs.
Brandon Renfrow
It was amusing. There are definitely some cool take aways. And Alcohol and caffeine are very integrated with our everyday life and its a little cool to know a little more than the next guy.
Nov 03, 2013 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food, 2013-challenge
Awesome and interesting book.

Whilst I don't drink much alcohol, I will be cutting back on my caffeine intake. I had no idea exactly what it did to the brain.
Derek Coatney
Jan 13, 2011 Derek Coatney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Would give it 5 stars if it had more current research in it. If you consume a lot of alcohol or caffeine you owe it to yourself to give this book a read.
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