Brain Rules, by John Medina: A Proper Book Review (and then some)

by ToriDeaux on April 30, 2008


When most people discover a book that really connects for them, they can’t put it down. Me? I can’t keep it picked up!

Contrary, I know. But sometimes an author’s words hit all the right buttons, and my mental machinery gets all wound up and excited. It starts kicking out so many of its own ideas that I’m compelled to put the book down, pick up a pen and notepad, and scribble madly.

Brain Rules is one of those books. It sparked so many thoughts that I had trouble focusing on the book itself. My attempts to focus on a proper review have been even trickier.

It should have been simple. I mean, come on.How hard is it to write “This imagebook ROCKS. Through examples, humor, and bite sized chunks of info, author and science-guy John Medina breaks down complex neuroscience into easy to understand ‘rules’ about how our brains function best. ”

But every time I hunkered down to do the review, I caught myself writing not about the book, but about how I could apply the information in my own life, how I could apply the information to help others, how I could use the ideas on this blog, and what I could learn from John Medina’s writing and presentation styles. Me, me, me, ME!

Setting the obsessive self-interest aside, some of the ideas were pretty good. You’ll see at least a few of them manifest here over the coming months.

Hopefully, you’ll also notice that I as I put those ideas in practice, I’ll seem to be more productive in general. I’ve already gotten a head start, and set up a treadmill workstation (Brain Rule #1, Excercise) though I don’t claim to be actually USING it yet.

More on that another day.

For now, the title promises a proper review, so a proper review you shall get, by the blog-gawds!

Brain Rules:
12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving
At Home, Work and School.

A Proper Book Review by
That MindTweaks Chick,
Tori Deaux.

This book ROCKS. Through examples, humor, and bite sized chunks of info, author and science-guy John Medina breaks down complex neuroscience into easy to understand ‘rules’ about how our brains function best. ;)

Brain Rules isn’t a straight explanation of the rules, though – it’s a working example of how to use them. Applying the Rules into his presentation style itself, Medina offers up examples and stories to keep us engaged (Brain Rule #4, Attention), includes visually rich multmedia bonuses (Brain Rule #9. Stimulate the Senses, and #10, Vision) and organizes the information in ways that best get the information into our memory banks. (Brain Rules #5 & #6, short & long term memory).

It’s across-the-board practical stuff, too, as useful for professional couch potatoes and bloggers as for educators, students, sales people and office managers.

See, Brain Rules isn’t just about making *your* brain work better – it’s about how to engage other people’s brains, too. So whether your goal is to more creative in your writing, or to get your spouse to really listen to why you need the new Tax Incentive check for a new motorcycle — applying the appropriate ‘rules’ will help get you there.

One of the bits that impressed me the most is the handling of the science behind the book. The research supporting the “rules” had to pass strict MGF standards (MGF is the Medina Grump Factor – ha!). That means the studies have all been published in a peer-reviewed journal, and the results have been successfully repeated (usually many times). In other words? It’s all real and reliable science, which is refreshing in this age of tabloid-science-frenzies.

But unlike many science-based books, I didn’t find myself drowning in a gazillion distracting footnotes. Brain Rules opts for what I hope will become a new standard: the references are neatly detailed in a PDF on the Brain Rules web site, where they don’t distract from the reader’s experience. Honestly, the references are more useful there. Web-based references allow for hyperlinks where available, an actually readable font size, and it just generally makes the research a lot easier to follow up on.

Speaking of the web site, it’s worth a visit even if you already have the book. In addition to the highly amusing video clips, interactive tutorials have been added, complete with voice overs, added video, charts, and nifty buttons to push, all intended to drive Brain Rules even further into your brain. (sounds subversive, doesn’t it? I wonder if he has plans to take over the world?)

That just about concludes this review, but…. I realize that a review isn’t really complete unless there’s some critical element, some sort of advice to the author on how it can be improved.

With that in mind, I’ve penned the following:

Open Letter To Mr. John Medina,
Author of Brain Rules.

Dear John,

Next time you decide to write a book – would you try and make it a LITTLE bit more boring, so that I will be less inspired, and a little more focused? Your book had my brain working TOO well. The inspirational input had me multitasking like a big-dog, a clear violation of Brain Rule # 4 (Attention) Sub-Clause #3 (The brain cannot multitask).

Dull it down a bit, will ya?

Sincerest Regards,
Tori Deaux,

Seriously, kudos to Mr. Medina and Pear Press for the incredible job they’ve done on this project.

The Brain Rules Website:
Brain Rules (Book & DVD)

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Book Psychologist 05.01.08 at 7:25 am

Sounds like a great book. There is so much new information coming out of psychology due to neuro-based studies: neurgenesis, neuro-rewiring, etc. that I hope this book covers some of that. It is really exciting, because although our brain rules us, we still rule our brain.

2 Tori Deaux | MindTweaks 05.02.08 at 3:47 am

Hi, BP — the book is, indeed, based around modern neuroscience discoveries, and how so many of our old ideas and assumptions have led us to outdated practices.

Nice wordplay on “rules”, btw!

3 Crabby McSlacker 05.03.08 at 4:48 pm

The LAST thing I’m in the market for is another book, I’m so behind in my reading… yet this one sounds fascinating and helpful. May have to consider checking it out.

Thanks for the recommendation!

4 Tori Deaux | MindTweaks 05.04.08 at 11:21 am

I soooo relate to the behind-in-books feeling, Crabby. You could always just watch the dvd, and skim the book, though! I think his sense of humor will suit you well : )

5 Brain Rules: Elements of An Owner’s Manual – Valuescience Blog 02.18.11 at 10:05 pm

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