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

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  171 ratings  ·  30 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 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: health, brain
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 -...more
For a book about liquids, rather dry.
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
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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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.
Josh Hamacher
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...more
Feb 23, 2014 Lawrence marked it as to-read
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.
Carole Bucher
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.
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 3 of 5 stars
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
I learned some really, really interesting facts, but this was rather dry and very scientific. I suspect I just wasn't in the mood for it.
Ceasar Bautista
Lots of interesting information. Easy to read format. If you're interested in the subject, it accomplishes its goal well.
fascinating look at caffeine and alcohol. pretty good laymen terms science writing.
Interesting from a biological perspective but not an historical one; hyper-technical.
Very interesting in the first half. Then I lost steam. Won't pick it up again.
Liz Brennan
Destroys popular myths with facts and evidence. Highly readable!
Nov 25, 2010 Raj is currently reading it
So far, so good. Entertaining read.
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