Brain Rules by John Medina (Book Review)

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I was on my way to South Africa and I had accidentally packed by book in my check-in luggage.  All set to read on the 16 hour flight to Johannesburg I found I had nothing to read. So I picked this book up at the airport bookshop - usually not a great place to find good reading material. I prefer Blackwells in Oxford, but I'm not a book buying snob. I'll buy a book anywhere if it looks interesting. The book Brain Rules by John Medina (published in 2011) outlines 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home and school. Being me, I love that they are 'Rules'.  There are 12 rules, 12 chapters - no surprises there. There is a fabulous info-graph at the beginning of the book outlining a one line summary for the 12 rules.

The book is easy to ready with a template for each chapter that follows a pattern of introducing the concept with a story, outline of the facts and research about the concept, and then practical application. Each chapter finishes with another one page info-graph about the concept. It's easy to read, informative and practical.

Concepts include why we need sleep, exercise, and exploration. There are chapters on stress, and gender and paying attention. I found there were several things that I could put into practice straight away, particularly getting more sleep (once I read that it is scientifically proven that my cognition (reasoning and thinking ability) is not as good if I haven't had enough sleep). Given that I love sleeping, this was encouraging.  There's also a plug for exercise.

"Physical activity is cognitive candy."

Dr John Medina is a molecular biologist and has had a lifelong interest in how brain science impacts the way we do our daily tasks.  The best thing about this book is that it is based on published science, but written in a practical way. I love that. There are lots of answers to the 'why' questions which makes the book enjoyable to read.  A chapter on gender explains why boys might say 'Do this', and girls might say 'Let's do this'.  It made me re-evaluate my listening and interpreting of conversation and suggestions.

I definitely recommend this book, even if just to encourages us to exercise consistently, and look for ways to sleep more and stress less.

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