Archive for Book Reviews

For the Atheist, the Agnostic, and the Believer – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist. A Very Worthwhile New Work on Spirituality:

The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life.

James Martin, S.J. (2010)

With nearly 20,000 members worldwide and a few hundred thousand in the past almost five-hundred years with high schools and colleges on almost every continent, the Jesuits know a thing or two about spirituality. And James Martin has distilled, summarized and updated the lessons of five hundred years so well that when I hit the lottery (There’s The Power of Positive Thinking for you.) I’ll start buying the work by the truck load for distribution to friends, patients and anyone who will accept a copy. In the interest of “full disclosure,” I paid full price for my copy at Barnes & Noble.

Composed between 1522 and 1524, the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, are the core of religious life for the largest Roman Catholic order of priests in the world, formally known as the Society of Jesus (thus, the S.J. after members’ names or, as Martin notes, occasionally known as “Stupid Jerks”).

Martin makes it clear that The Exercises have become a critical element in the “spiritual paths” of millions lay Catholics and non-Catholics, self-professed atheists and agnostics, and individuals following a wide range of other religious practices and traditions. Martin does not refer to “spirituality” – often perceived as static or tradition bound; he writes of a wide range of “spiritual paths”; I prefer “spiritual journeys.” Martin’s work is rich in illustrations of effective approaches to the spiritual path or journey; he often calls on the examples of his fellow Jesuits – living and dead. (Since the Exercises are critical to the day-to-day lives of Jesuits and, collectively, they probably constitute the largest single collection of religious martyrs outside the Holocaust, it is probable that they have something especially important to say.)

While more and more Americans are moving away from established churches and call themselves “spiritual rather than religious,” many lack the skills and tools essential to the development of a healthy and soul-enriching spirituality. Martin offers meaningful tools and guides the reader through the development of skills – although he is fast to emphasize that developing skills takes time and practice.

For readers struggling with addictions in all its forms (or who love and/or work with addicts), Martin’s work is especially important. Bill Wilson, one of the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, enjoyed a long-term friendship with non-alcoholic Jesuit Father Ed Rowling. In part, the friendship was based on the mutual recognition of the ways in which the Twelve Steps reflect critical elements of Ignatian/Jesuit spirituality.

I’ll continue to buy my lottery tickets because you can’t win if you don’t play and God knows I deserve to win. When I do, I’m headed to Barnes & Noble.

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Another Book Review by Dr. Flynn – Re: Cocaine

I am not sure this should be called a “book” review as it is about an article…. Dr. Flynn of the Brain Training Centers of Florida has provided another informative review.

The Best Six Pages Ever About Cocaine:

“The Neurobiology of Cocaine Addition.” Eric J. Nestler, M.D., Ph.D.,

Science & Practice Perspective. December 2005

Eric J. Nestler’s introductory three or four pages of this article, published in a journal of the National Institute on Drug Abuse/national Institutes of Health, are so good that I keep copies on both my campus and private office desks – to make them easily available to addicts and families dealing with cocaine addiction. More importantly, however, his research serves as the perfect paradigm or model for what happens in any addicted brain. While the first three or four pages are an easy read, the remainder of the nine page article are just a little more complicated – but worth the effort.

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The Best Brain Book Ever:

The Human Brain Book. Rita Carter. DK Publishing. (2009).

Until something better is published (and don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen), The Best Brain Book Ever Award must go to The Human Brain Book the team of Rita Carter, Susan Aldridge, Martyn Page and Steve Parker. With 241 full-color pages and thousands of illustrations and full-color brain images, it is the best illustrated and most easily readable book ever published for people just beginning to explore the most complex system in the Universe.

Slightly larger than a traditional college neurology textbook, it is highly readable and – at an introductory level – covers virtually every element of neurology and the neurosciences including brain development and a wide range of neurological disorders.

Simply stated, it’s so good that it should be a “first buy” for any personal or professional library and no library should be considered complete without it.

The Human Brain Book. Rita Carter et al. Dorling Kindersley Limited (London, New York). 2009.

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The Brainy and Not-So-Brainy Brain Books Corner

The Brainy and Not-So-Brainy Brain Books Corner

The Brain Training Centers of Florida presents a service not found anywhere else on the Internet or offered by any other affiliate of Brain State Technologies: The Brainy and Not-So-Brainy Brain Books Corner.

“Books about the brain are like a good news-bad news joke,” notes Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D., CAP, director of the Brain Training Centers of Florida. “The good news is that there are a number of great new books that make understanding some dynamics of the brain relatively easy to understand; the bad news is that the brain is so complex and our understanding of it is still so new that even the best books will always be only relatively easy to understand.”

Edited by Flynn, a self-described “brain book junkie,” The Corner will review and provide brief introductions to some of the outstanding new books and articles on neurology, neuroplasticity, brain development, brain diseases and traumatic injury, and other subjects of specific and general interest regarding the brain and neuro-sciences.

“Every dynamic of the science of the brain is changing almost at warp speed,” notes Flynn. “New books and reports appear on an almost daily basis. Professionals and non-professional, families dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease, traumatic brain injuries and various Autistic Spectrum Disorders are constantly searching for new information. We hope that our reviews will be helpful,” says Flynn.

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