Top Picks: Your Brain and Music

This season of One Book, One Chicago, we explore the theme Music: The Beat of Our City through I'll Take You There. But have you ever wondered why music affects us the way it does? 

Ever since the late neurologist and music lover Oliver Sacks published his popular book Musicophilia in 2007, people have been interested in the way music can affect our brains. From putting on a pump up the jams playlist when you're at the gym, to singing a child a lullaby before bed, music is a part of our daily lives and can set the mood and tell our brains what to do or how to feel. If you're interested in how your brain interacts with music, we recommend these top picks.

Have you ever been moved to tears when you heard a song come on the radio? When you feel sad, does playing a favorite tune immediately cheer you up? Physicist and composer John Powell explores why this is in Why You Love Music. John is also the author of an earlier book on the topic, How Music Works

You may think that your love of the latest pop hit is because of your own taste, but as John Seabrook explores in The Song Machine, it may actually be because the song was designed to appeal to the "bliss point" of your brain. 

Musician, Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame inductee and co-founder of Talking Heads David Byrne explores his life's passion in How Music Works, recently updated in 2017 to include a new chapter on digital curation. Byrne even suggests that his creative accomplishments may be related to his self-diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome. 

After slipping into a coma following a surgery for pancreatic cancer, Andrew Schulman was not expected to survive. He was a guitarist and lover of music, so his wife played him Bach's St. Matthew Passion through ear buds in the hospital. Miraculously, his vital signs stabilized and he soon recovered, as he shares in the memoir  Waking the Spirit. He now works in the hospital where he almost died, playing music for other critically ill patients. 

Do you have a favorite book on music and the brain? Share it in the comments.

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