These are the 10 most popular books in the UK as of May 4, 2015.
1. Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh
What is it like to be a brain surgeon? How does it feel to hold someone’s life in your hands, to cut into the stuff that creates thought, feeling and reason? How do you live with the consequences of performing a potentially life-saving operation when it all goes wrong? In neurosurgery, more than in any other branch of medicine, the doctor’s oath to ‘do no harm’ holds a bitter irony. Operations on the brain carry grave risks. Every day, Henry Marsh must make agonising decisions, often in the face of great urgency and uncertainty. If you believe that brain surgery is a precise and exquisite craft, practised by calm and detached surgeons, this gripping, brutally honest account will make you think again. With astonishing compassion and candour, one of the country’s leading neurosurgeons reveals the fierce joy of operating, the profoundly moving triumphs, the harrowing disasters, the haunting regrets and the moments of black humour that characterise a brain surgeon’s life. DO NO HARM is an unforgettable insight into the countless human dramas that take place in a busy modern hospital. Above all, it is a lesson in the need for hope when faced with life’s most difficult decisions.
2. The Skeleton Cupboard: The making of a clinical psychologist by Tanya Byron
Tanya Byron shares powerful stories inspired by her years of training as a clinical psychologist. The Skeleton Cupboard is Professor Tanya Byron’s account of her years of training as a clinical psychologist, when trainees find themselves in the toughest placements of their careers. Through the eyes of her naive and inexperienced younger self, Tanya shares remarkable stories inspired by the people she had the privilege to treat. Gripping, poignant and full of daring black humour, this book reveals the frightening and challenging induction faced by all mental health staff and highlights their incredible commitment to their patients. Powerfully moving and beautifully written, The Skeleton Cupboard shares the tales of ordinary people with an amazing resilience to the challenges of life.
3. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come? In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, palaeontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come? Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, Sapiens challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power … and our future.
4. Adventures in Human Being by Gavin Francis
We have a lifetime’s association with our bodies, but for many of us they remain uncharted territory. In Adventures in Human Being, Gavin Francis leads the reader on a journey through health and illness, offering insights on everything from the ribbed surface of the brain to the secret workings of the heart and the womb; from the pulse of life at the wrist to the unique engineering of the foot. Drawing on his own experiences as a doctor and GP, he blends first-hand case studies with reflections on the way the body has been imagined and portrayed over the millennia. If the body is a foreign country, then to practise medicine is to explore new territory: Francis leads the reader on an adventure through what it means to be human. Both a user’s guide to the body and a celebration of its elegance, this book will transform the way you think about being alive, whether in sickness or in health.
5. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
The New York Times Bestseller, acclaimed by author such as Freakonomics co-author Steven D. Levitt, Black Swan author Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Nudge co-author Richard Thaler, Thinking Fast and Slow offers a whole new look at the way our minds work, and how we make decisions. Why is there more chance we’ll believe something if it’s in a bold type face? Why are judges more likely to deny parole before lunch? Why do we assume a good-looking person will be more competent? The answer lies in the two ways we make choices: fast, intuitive thinking, and slow, rational thinking. This book reveals how our minds are tripped up by error and prejudice (even when we think we are being logical), and gives you practical techniques for slower, smarter thinking. It will enable to you make better decisions at work, at home, and in everything you do.
6. Alan Turing: The Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film The Imitation Game by Andrew Hodges
The official book behind the Academy Award-winning film The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. Alan Turing was the mathematician whose cipher-cracking transformed the Second World War. Taken on by British Intelligence in 1938, as a shy young Cambridge don, he combined brilliant logic with a flair for engineering. In 1940 his machines were breaking the Enigma-enciphered messages of Nazi Germany’s air force. He then headed the penetration of the super-secure U-boat communications. But his vision went far beyond this achievement. Before the war he had invented the concept of the universal machine, and in 1945 he turned this into the first design for a digital computer. Turing’s far-sighted plans for the digital era forged ahead into a vision for Artificial Intelligence. However, in 1952 his homosexuality rendered him a criminal and he was subjected to humiliating treatment. In 1954, aged 41, Alan Turing took his own life.
7. A Brief History Of Time: From Big Bang To Black Holes by Stephen Hawking
Was there a beginning of time? Could time run backwards? Is the universe infinite or does it have boundaries? These are just some of the questions considered in an internationally acclaimed masterpiece by one of the world’s greatest thinkers. It begins by reviewing the great theories of the cosmos from Newton to Einstein, before delving into the secrets which still lie at the heart of space and time, from the Big Bang to black holes, via spiral galaxies and strong theory. To this day A Brief History of Time remains a staple of the scientific canon, and its succinct and clear language continues to introduce millions to the universe and its wonders.
8. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson
They say one out of every hundred people is a psychopath. You probably passed one on the street today. These are people who have no empathy, who are manipulative, deceitful, charming, seductive, and delusional. The Psychopath Test is the New York Times bestselling exploration of their world and the madness industry. When Jon Ronson is drawn into an elaborate hoax played on some of the world’s top scientists, his investigation leads him, unexpectedly, to psychopaths. He meets an influential psychologist who is convinced that many important business leaders and politicians are in fact high-flying, high-functioning psychopaths, and teaches Ronson how to spot them. Armed with these new abilities, Ronson meets a patient inside an asylum for the criminally insane who insists that he’s sane, a mere run-of-the-mill troubled youth, not a psychopath—a claim that might be only manipulation, and a sign of his psychopathy. He spends time with a death-squad leader institutionalized for mortgage fraud, and with a legendary CEO who took joy in shutting down factories and firing people. He delves into the fascinating history of psychopathy diagnosis and treatments, from LSD-fueled days-long naked therapy sessions in prisons to attempts to understand serial killers. Along the way, Ronson discovers that relatively ordinary people are, more and more, defined by their most insane edges. The Psychopath Test is a fascinating adventure through the minds of madness.
9. The Vital Question: Why is life the way it is? by Nick Lane
Why is life the way it is? Bacteria evolved into complex life just once in four billion years of life on earth – and all complex life shares many strange properties, from sex to ageing and death. If life evolved on other planets, would it be the same or completely different? In The Vital Question, Nick Lane radically reframes evolutionary history, putting forward a cogent solution to conundrums that have troubled scientists for decades. The answer, he argues, lies in energy: how all life on Earth lives off a voltage with the strength of a bolt of lightning. In unravelling these scientific enigmas, making sense of life’s quirks, Lane’s explanation provides a solution to life’s vital questions: why are we as we are, and why are we here at all? This is ground-breaking science in an accessible form, in the tradition of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene, and Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel.
10. This is Not a Maths Book: A Smart Art Activity Book by Anna Weltman
Discover how maths can be artistic and art can be mathematical with this awesome activity book, full of fun drawing challenges with a mathematical basis. Amazing patterns with a mathematical essence will be revealed as you follow the simple activity instructions. Learn incredible maths facts as you draw the beautiful designs. From simple geometric patterns to fascinating fractal art, to awesome anamorphic art, and cool celtic knots, discover the beauty in maths, and the maths in beauty. Left-brain and right-brain come together to create fantastic maths art!
[This list is based on data adapted from amazon.co.uk.]