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L.A. Times Bestsellers: We want brains!

March 25, 2011 | 12:45 pm


It's not just classic zombie movie monsters who want brains. Los Angeles readers do, too.

Entering the hardcover nonfiction bestseller list this week at No. 1 is "The Social Animal" by David Brooks. It's a look at how a (composite) couple make choices, good and bad -- all informed by what we've learned about how the brain works. Publisher Random House writes:

Distilling a vast array of information into these two vividly realized characters, Brooks illustrates a fundamental new understanding of human nature. A scientific revolution has occurred—we have learned more about the human brain in the last thirty years than we had in the previous three thousand. The unconscious mind, it turns out, is most of the mind—not a dark, vestigial place but a creative and enchanted one, where most of the brain’s work gets done. This is the realm of emotions, intuitions, biases, longings, genetic predispositions, personality traits, and social norms: the realm where character is formed and where our most important life decisions are made. The natural habitat of The Social Animal.

At No. 3 is Joshua Foer's "Moonwalking with Einstein," now in its second week on the list. Foer -- brother of the novelist Jonathan Safran, if you were wondering -- went from chronically forgetful science journalist to U.S. Memory Champion. In the book, publisher Penguin writes:

Moonwalking with Einstein draws on cutting-edge research, a surprising cultural history of memory, and venerable tricks of the mentalist's trade to transform our understanding of human remembering....Foer takes his inquiry well beyond the arena of mental athletes-across the country and deep into his own mind. In San Diego, he meets an affable old man with one of the most severe case of amnesia on record, where he learns that memory is at once more elusive and more reliable than we might think. In Salt Lake City, he swaps secrets with a savant who claims to have memorized more than nine thousand books. At a high school in the South Bronx, he finds a history teacher using twenty- five-hundred-year-old memory techniques to give his students an edge in the state Regents exam. 

Brainiacs who want more can see a video of David Brooks' TED Talk after the jump.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: A visitor looks at a human brain at The Real Brain exhibit in Bristol, England. Credit: Matt Cardy / Getty Images