Kristin's Reviews > Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain

Incognito by David Eagleman
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's review
May 06, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: first-reads, science
Read from May 26 to June 01, 2011 — I own a copy

*I am required to disclose that I received this book as a freebie from the Goodreads first reads giveaway program, but don't worry, this doesn't obligate me to say only good things.

Though I give the book four stars and have already recommended it to more people than any book I've ever read, I would strongly disagree with the first reviewer that the book is an "engaging romp" or "fun".
The book is, and should be, profoundly unsettling, though for reasons which make it all the more important to confront. Eagleman creates a compelling account for rethinking the answer to the question "who am I?", one that will have you profoundly questioning former assumptions and intuitions.
Incognito tells of homicidal sleepwalkers, people who hear color and taste sounds, and a condition in which a blind person is perfectly convinced that they can see. It poses the questions: To what extent does it make sense to refer to my conscious self as "my true self"? To what extent does the concept of free will make sense on a neurological level? How much of my reality is a perception of my physical surrounding, and how much might be an interpretation offered by my brain?
Eagleman manages to address these questions in a very readable account, and you can't help but share in his contagious enthusiasm for how cool neuroscience is. If you like being wowed and challenged, read this book. Just be forewarned that it might force you to seriously reconsider the way your look at your world and your self.
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Reading Progress

05/26/2011 "Just got it in the mail, and excited to start reading!"
50.0% "This book is alternately fascinating and terrifying. And I can't stop talking about it!"

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Carli (new) - added it

Carli Great review. Really answered the question for me if I should read this book or not. And the answer is yes! Thanks so much for the clear and concise info without over detailing!

Kristin Happy to help! As I said in my review, I did find the book unsettling, so if you are interested in any follow-up reading I would highly recommend some books by Raymond Tallis, which tackle the concept of "neuromythology". As a secular humanist, Tallis' work is a good counter-balance to the sort of extreme reduction you will find in Eagleman.

Nathan Hassall I could not agree more. It is one fantastic book on neuroscience and makes you change your view on yourself. Not great if you're looking for hope! Loved it. Awesome review.

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