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Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  572 ratings  ·  94 reviews
The New York Times bestselling author examines how our sense of touch and emotion are interconnected

Johns Hopkins neuroscientist and bestselling author of The Compass of Pleasure David J. Linden presents an engaging and fascinating examination of how the interface between our sense of touch and our emotional responses affects our social interactions as well as our general
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 29th 2015 by Viking
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Dec 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Did you know our bodies have one set of nerve fibers that respond only to caresses?

Or that the areas of our skin without hair are very limited -- lips, palms, parts of our sexual organs?

Or that our brains can actually send signals to our spines that either exacerbate or alleviate the pain we feel?

These and dozens of other fascinating insights are part of Linden's book, which takes you on a tour through the one of our five senses that often gets the least attention. The book delves into technical
Touch is a pretty fascinating book, delving into the importance of the sense of touch for us and what it would mean to lose that sense. It’s not just losing the sensation of your skin touching something, after all: touch receptors also play a part in interpreting pain, heat, etc. In a way, the book as a whole tells you about more than just touch, since it also gives a solid background in the nervous system and the brain.

It’s also pretty focused on stuff like orgasms and sensual touching, sometim
Oct 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
On the one hand, this was an interesting subject delivered in an accessible fashion by an enthusiastic author. On the other, it took me absolutely ages to get round to finishing it, and I really had to concentrate fully on it, something that I rarely have to do.

As the title suggests, this book was all about the sensation of touch, particularly the science of how the physical touch sends signals to our brain, and how we interpret those signals. To start with, it is more academic, detailing the ma
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
"Touch" turned out to be a very interesting book in understanding the anatomy of how we feel touches. Author brilliantly describes the mechanism of sudden, special and painful touches, explains how pain and itching occur. Most notable part of the book is that it is not implicated with difficult information that you barely understand or after some minutes totally forget about; rather David Linden gives us overall information with vast number of images.

However, there are some negative parts too th
Bernie Gourley
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in the human body and how it works.
“Touch” is a neuroscientist’s perspective on the human sense of touch, and the profound impact it has on life in our species.

It’s a short book, only about 200 pages of substantive text, arranged into eight chapters. The first chapter considers the role that our sense of touch plays in our lives as social animals. There are a number of studies described in this chapter, but I’ll cite only two that I think give an idea of what the chapter is all about. The first considers why a person holding a c
Marykatherine Anthony
Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
It's refreshing to read a book in science that is not only written with personality, but also whole heartedly a SCIENCE book. I find that many of these books end up being about the scientist's life and accomplishments. However, this one is different and I enjoyed it greatly. ...more
Jul 13, 2020 added it
Update. Bailed. Maybe reading instead of listening would be better, so there could be skimming.
Initial thoughts:
Um. Every chapter there's something unrelated to the subject that annoys me. So far the author has unironically quoted Lolita, downplayed unwanted touch, and referred to a harem. I enjoyed the Pleasure book, so I'll try a little more, but I might not make it through.
Ikmal Fitri (iikmalreads)
"The astonishing secrets of our senses, and how to harness them to change your personal and professional life." - Touch, David J. Linden

The synopsis and the blurbs of this book caught my attention, as i'm a person who really loves science

But this book... Well... It is a super hard science. Idk, the information is too much and complicated for me to absorb and understand. And plus i don't have any basic knowledge in biology, this book surely made me feel super clueless with all the jargons

Maybe if
Jun 29, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction, science, 2016
This book was terrible. None of the narrative flair or accessibility of neuroscientists like Norman Doidge. Incredibly boring. It's one of those books that walks right up to the line of interesting...aaaand end chapter. Every time.

And so many "we just don't know" cop outs. I've read a lot of science books about a lot of ambiguous subjects - the best ones at least offer informed hypotheses (even if more than one.) Throwing up your "we just don't know" hands is lazy.

I think he was really only int
Viewpoints Radio
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The sense of touch is taken for granted. Most of us do not realize that the sense of touch conveys more emotion than any other sense because it has its own emotional wiring system. David J. Linden dives into this sense in this book and gives us all a new insight to our emotions. On Radio Health Journal, our weekly radio show, we had the chance to talk with Dr. Linden about the power of the sense of touch. If you would like to hear our radio show, please check out the link here! https://radioheal ...more
This has the subtitle The Science of the Sense that Makes Us Human, but nowhere in it will you find an explanation as to why touch apparently makes us any more human than, say, salmon.

Nevertheless, Touch has all you ever wanted to know about how we (humans) feel. This ranges from the physics of how it works to situations when there’s nothing more involved than our mental assumptions. This is an engaging read for the most part, and there’s lots here that I’ll remember.

I’ll not forget the story of
Ella Cook
Perhaps I should not judge a book by it's cover, but when said cover boasts a heat-reactive gimmick that leaves a colourful impression of your hand wherever you touch it I feel I can be forgiven for not expecting it's contents to read quite so much like a textbook.
This books is jarring in in its ability to go from interesting studies and facts about touch (complete with the odd quip of dad humour and well detailed narrative to break up the info-dump), to mind numbing recitations of neuroscience
Sep 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Psychology nerds could like this book, but they may be disappointed with the general lack of any new insight. This book isn't really a pop psych book, but certainly lacks depth about any subject. Touch is basically a shallow survey of a variety of scientific literature regarding the modality of touch. Some of the studies are certainly interesting but presented in such an abbreviated overview that a person would need to look up the scientific papers themselves to really know about the material. M ...more
Jason Ray Ray Carney
Generally interesting. Provides lots of amazing information about the neurobiology of touch perception. Doesn't seem to be seriously written for a popular, though non-specialist audience and often becomes mired in fine details about neurons, genes, and the subtle biological minutiae of touch sensation. The science might too dense and inaccessible for a general yet educated audience. It will definately test the patience of some readers. If you have some prior knowledge about neuroscience, brain s ...more
Benjamin Rubenstein
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: resources
"tactile sensation must be combined with the imprints of our life ultimately produce our highly nuanced perception of social touch. This combination of the past with the present has to take place within about a tenth of a second."

Well shit, if tactile touching is a factor in being successful in whatever goal you're pursuing (which is my general takeaway from this book...too much a stretch?), then ain't nobody got time to cognitively make decisions within a tenth of a second, so I
May 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017, non-fiction, science
I learnt too little from this book. By taking scientific papers and wrapping them in a book cover, one can just obtain a journal (or conference proceedings) but not really a book. I would have been captivated, if there were a story to get me through all of this information. The examples were present but didn't feel on spot most of the times. And what's up with all these diagrams? More of a storyline and less graphs could have done miracles. Just take the story of two lab rats and tell us what th ...more
May 27, 2019 rated it did not like it
I have a new personal policy: if you take the time to describe violent and repeated rape, and it seems to be an attempt to "liven it up" or "add interest" rather than directly necessary to your explanation of the topic at hand, then I stop reading your book. A moment's thought would tell you that some readers will be unable to read this anecdote without pain, and although I'm not among them, I'm not inclined to read pop science written by thoughtless people. ...more
Gustave Blåbær
Nov 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
Some good chapters, and really interesting infos about how touch works in the body from a neurological perspective.

The author got me lost at some point though. There were too many small technical stories, a bit too advanced for my palate. I missed a red thread, some words about a bigger story about touch, and not so much a bunch of anecdotes i started to loose interest for at some point.
Dec 22, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm conflicted by this book. Some of this is filled with fantastic information but some of the personal stories are /too/ personal. I don't ever need sexual stories from
Someone in a book. Especially in the detail he gives.
Feb 12, 2018 rated it liked it
It was ok. Lot's of science stuff (ah, I wanted more social science perspective but there was more about how touch process happens in cells, nerves and what not), the most simplest touch is so complicated! Good fill-in read or if you are really interested in the matter. ...more
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-books
This is one of my favorite non-fiction books. This is my second time reading it, and this time, I read it slowly and took notes. Linden is a talented writer and I use some of his phrasing when I teach my anatomy class.
Oct 10, 2019 rated it liked it
It took me something like 2+ years to read this book, but I would pick it up and put it down between chapters which were disparate enough for this to be an okay strategy. I feel more informed and got some cool insights but it was a little too science-talk for the average reader.
Samuel Chase
May 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
read this book if you want to understand the power of touch for our own understanding of the world and relationships. It is very science but Lindens writing voice is fun to read and makes big scientific portions feel smooth and digestible
Jan 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
Took me forever to read. Had some interesting and crazy content but need a fundamental understanding of everything first to enjoy it...
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
maybe i just wanted this to be something else? but there was too much (filler-seeming) 'science,' and too little social context and analysis for my liking. ...more
Jul 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Some interesting content, and a lot of scientific background made accessible. Frustrating that all temperatures were in F.
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Linden combines science and the human experience in a fascinating narrative about how we feel. I was surprised by this book and how well the latest science was explained and the how personal Linden was. Highly recommend.
Elizabeth Diane
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
A neurobiologist`s analysis of touch and other details sprinkled with sniggering sarcasm. Fine, just not what I hoped. ...more
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting information, but at times difficult to read. Not a usual non-fiction book with lots of funny moments. Read slowly and digest.
Martin Willoughby
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Heavy on the science, but still fascinating.
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David J. Linden, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His laboratory has worked for many years on the cellular substrates of memory storage in the brain and a few other topics. He has a longstanding interest in scientific communication and served for many years as the Chief Editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology. He is the au ...more

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