The "Devotional" includes 365 of these health-related gems -- one for each day of the year.
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In the case of your father-in-law, you might wish you'd never given it to him.
-- Melissa Healy
The Overflowing Brain: Information Overload and the Limits of Working Memory
Oxford University Press, $21.95
IBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind
Gary Small, M.D., and Gigi Vorgan
Collins Publishing, $24.95
Why did it take me hours to get to the task of recommending these books, and once I'd gotten down to it, to type in the details of their cost and publishers -- for which I had to keep checking back to their inside sleeves? Maybe because I'm overwhelmed by the ringing, the buzzing, the beeping and the sheer volume of information that comes my way every day.
I love it. I need it. But I often feel it's taking a toll on my attention and memory.
Sound like someone on your gift list?
I like to think about how we think, and how our minds and memories work. I like to get under the hood and understand how the cylinders mesh and what happens when they get gummed up. These two books help explain -- in plain English -- how our minds and, especially, our memories work (or don't work) under the assault of all those modern conveniences that are supposed to make us more efficient. Small is a UCLA professor and memory expert. Klingberg is a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and founded CogMed, a brain-training program that focuses on improving working memory the way a Stairmaster improves your glutes and calf muscles.
In short, these guys know what they're talking about, and write pretty well about it too. They also offer some pointers. Whether your giftee is one of those "highly effective people" types (definitely not me) or a person who just likes to think about thinking, either or both of these books would be a good bet.
-- Melissa Healy
Healing the Broken Mind: Transforming America's Failed Mental Health System
Timothy A. Kelly
New York University Press ( www.nyupress.org), $25.95