Similar authors to follow
Manage your follows
About Jonah Lehrer
Jonah Lehrer is the author of A Book About Love, Imagine, How We Decide and Proust Was a Neuroscientist. He graduated from Columbia University and studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He's written for The New Yorker, Nature, The New York Times Magazine and many other publications.
Customers Also Bought Items By
In this book, the author of How We Decide and Imagine: How Creativity Works “writes skillfully and coherently about both art and science”—and about the connections between the two (Entertainment Weekly).
In this technology-driven age, it’s tempting to believe that science can solve every mystery. After all, it’s cured countless diseases and sent humans into space. But as Jonah Lehrer explains, science is not the only path to knowledge. In fact, when it comes to understanding the brain, art got there first.
Taking a group of artists—a painter, a poet, a chef, a composer, and a handful of novelists—Lehrer shows how each one discovered an essential truth about the mind that science is only now rediscovering. We learn, for example, how Proust first revealed the fallibility of memory; how George Eliot discovered the brain’s malleability; how the French chef Escoffier discovered umami (the fifth taste); how Cézanne worked out the subtleties of vision; and how Gertrude Stein exposed the deep structure of language—a full half-century before the work of Noam Chomsky and other linguists.
More broadly, Lehrer shows that there’s a cost to reducing everything to atoms and acronyms and genes. Measurement is not the same as understanding, and art knows this better than science does. An ingenious blend of biography, criticism, and first-rate science writing, Proust Was a Neuroscientist urges science and art to listen more closely to each other, for willing minds can combine the best of both to brilliant effect.
“His book marks the arrival of an important new thinker . . . Wise and fresh.” —Los Angeles Times
Why is mystery so compelling? What draws us to the unknown? Jonah Lehrer sets out to answer these questions in a vividly entertaining and surprisingly profound journey through the science of suspense. He finds that nothing can capture a person’s attention as strongly as mystery, and that mystery is the key principle in how humans view and understand the world. Whenever patterns are broken, we are hard-wired to find out why. Without our curiosity driving us to pursue new discoveries and solve stubborn problems, we would never have achieved the breakthroughs that have revolutionized human medicine, technology—and culture. From Shakespeare’s plays to the earliest works of the detective genre, our entertainment and media have continually reinvented successful forms of mystery to hook audiences.
Here, Lehrer interviews individuals in unconventional fields—from dedicated small-business owners to innovative schoolteachers—who use mystery to challenge themselves and to motivate others to reach to new heights. He also examines the indelible role of mystery in our culture, revealing how the magical world of Harry Potter triggers the magic of dopamine in our brains, why the baseball season is ten times longer than the football season, and when the suspect is introduced in each episode of Law & Order.
Fascinating, illuminating, and fun, Mystery explores the many surprising ways in which embracing a sense of awe and curiosity can enrich our lives.
Weaving together scientific studies from clinical psychologists, longitudinal studies of health and happiness, historical accounts and literary depictions, child-rearing manuals, and the language of online dating sites, Jonah Lehrer’s A Book About Love plumbs the most mysterious, most formative, most important impulse governing our lives.
Love confuses and compels us—and it can destroy and define us. It has inspired our greatest poetry, defined our societies and our beliefs, and governs our biology. From the way infants attach to their parents, to the way we fall in love with another person, to the way some find a love for God or their pets, to the way we remember and mourn love after it expires, this book focuses on research that attempts, even in glancing ways, to deal with the long-term and the everyday.
The most dangerous myth of love is that it’s easy, that we fall into the feeling and then the feeling takes care of itself. While we can easily measure the dopamine that causes the initial feelings of “falling” in love, the partnerships and devotions that last decades or longer remain a mystery. “Lehrer uses scores of detailed vignettes to traverse a complicated intellectual landscape, eventually arriving at modern theories of love…He is a talent” (USA TODAY), and A Book About Love decodes the set of skills necessary to cultivate a lifetime of love. Love, Lehrer argues, is not built solely on overwhelming passion, but, fascinatingly, on a set of skills to be cultivated over a lifetime.