The Brain: Nature’s Own Computer
Johns’ book explores how the brain functions. He talks about how we are the result of a blend of natural instinct and nurture. Humans bond with their primary caregiver and this shapes how they interact with others and who they are attracted to later in life. Johns explores the common theory that children develop most of their core identity in the first six years and that abuse within that key time frame can seriously stunt development. He discusses the idea of brain maps and that certain ideas, concepts and feelings are soft wired not hardwired into us. This means that those habits can be changed over time.
While I rarely comment on the layout of books since a good layout should invisibly support the story this layout puts itself forward. The choice of a blue background instead of the more traditional white is odd and never explained. For instance, a children’s book about the sun might have a yellow background. The color blue doesn’t seem to have a link to the material and so ends up alienating the reader as it constantly separates them from the text.
The table of contents is also strange as it appears to list images and tables instead of chapter headings or perhaps as well as chapter headings. A separate list of illustrations would add clarity here if the author wishes to include that information. HTML 4 is an odd choice for writing a book. The urge to be different and stand out from the crowd is understandable but the wheel is still used today for a reason. Book design is the place where a book should be marketed but an author needs to remember that the primary purpose of a book is to be read and if the layout interferes significantly with that goal than it is time to try something else.
The core material Johns is presenting is not new but he is correct that it is often not presented in a way that is accessible to a lay person. Unfortunately, Johns inserts his marketing ideas into his writing and this creates an authorial voice that talks down to readers. It is important for an author to consider the audience for his book, but they do not need to include this information within the book. They also do not need to explain their voice or word choice. Doing so says that the author lacks faith in their readers and it becomes annoying. All in all, this book has possibilities but as it stands it needs more work.
Elizabeth Ramsay is an editor and education writer.