Of brains, media, reporting and love

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New Delhi– Know how the brain can shape our lives in unexpected and, in some cases, brilliant and alarming ways; read the story of a seasoned reporter at the North Kanto Times who runs a daily battle against the power struggles and office politics that plague its newsroom; learn how media manipulators work; and flick through a moving, disturbingly close to reality story about love at its worst and at its best.

The IANS book shelf has these reads to offer for this weekend.

1. Book: Unthinkable; Author: Helen Thomson; Publisher: John Murray; Price: Rs 399; Pages: 290
Our brains are far stranger than we think. We take it for granted that we can remember, feel emotions, navigate, empathise and understand the world around us, but how would our lives change if these abilities were dramatically enhanced — or disappeared overnight?

Award-winning science writer Helen Thomson has spent years travelling the world tracking down incredibly rare brain disorders. In “Unthinkable”, she tells the stories of nine extraordinary people. From the man who thinks he’s a tiger to the doctor who feels the pain of others just by looking at them, their experiences illustrate how the brain can shape our lives in unexpected and, in some cases, brilliant and alarming ways.

Delving into the rich histories of these conditions, exploring the very latest research and cutting-edge medical techniques, Thomson explains the workings of our consciousness, our emotions, our creativity and even the mechanisms that allow us to understand our own existence. “Unthinkable” takes us on an unforgettable journey through the human brain.

2. Book: Seventeen; Author: Hideo Yokoyama; Publisher: Riverrun; Price: Rs 499; Pages: 403
It’s 1985. Kazumasa Yuuki, a seasoned reporter at the North Kanto Times, runs a daily battle against the power struggles and office politics that plague its newsroom. But when an air disaster of unprecedented scale occurs at the paper’s doorstep, its staff members are united by an unimaginable horror, and a once-in-a-lifetime scoop.

Switch to 2002. Seventeen years later, Yuuki remembers the adrenaline-fuelled, emotionally charged seven days that changed his and his colleagues’ lives. He does so while making good on a promise he made that fateful week — one that holds the key to its last unsolved mystery, and represents Yuuki’s final, unconquered fear.

3. Book: Trust Me, I’m Lying; Author: Ryan Holiday; Publisher: Hachette; Price: Rs 499; Pages: 378
You’ve seen it all before. A malicious online rumor costs a company millions. A political sideshow derails the national news cycle and destroys a candidate. Some product or celebrity zooms from total obscurity to viral sensation. What you don’t know is that someone is responsible for all this. Usually, someone like the author — a media manipulator.

“I wrote this book to explain how media manipulators work, how to spot their fingerprints, how to fight them, and how (if you must) to emulate their tactics. Why am I giving away these secrets? Because I’m tired of a world where trolls hijack debates, marketers help write the news, opinion masquerades as fact, algorithms drive everything to extremes, and no one is accountable for any of it. I’m pulling back the curtain because it’s time the public understands how things really work. What you choose to do with this information is up to you,” the author says.

4. Book: Will You Still Love Me?; Author: Ravinder Singh; Publisher: Penguin; Price: Rs 199; Pages: 260
Lavanya Gogoi is from the scenic hills of Shillong while Rajveer Saini belongs to the shahi city of Patiala. Worlds apart from one another, the two land up next to each other on a flight from Mumbai to Chandigarh. It’s love at first flight, at least for one of them. For the other… well, it’s going to take more than a plane ride!

And when love does finally happen, there are more obstacles to overcome. Rajveer has to stand up against his own if he and Lavanya are to be together.

However, life has other plans. Things go horribly wrong and Rajveer now has to fight a different battle – one in which he is the devil as well as the deliverer. His love for Lavanya will be put to the ultimate test. And there are no guarantees. (IANS)



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