Hot Books: The Soul is Dead – Long Live the Brain

Once upon a time, every other book proposal that came in had the word “soul” in the title. There was Care of the Soul, The Soul’s Code, The Seat of the Soul, juggernauts that landed at the top of the bestseller list–often hoisted by Oprah–and sat there sometimes for years. Then, as now, publishers were looking for the next big thing that looked like what was already working. So if it had “soul” in the title, you could pretty much guarantee a feeding frenzy.

The same thing happens now around the brain and neuroscience. The Female Brain (full disclosure–I published this one), The Male Brain, Brain Rules, Daniel Amen’s books and more. The soul is nowhere to be found in the new quest for cracking the code to the computer in our heads–the organ that everyone seems to think is the cause of our happiness or unhappiness, the one that we think controls our destiny with the flip of a neurochemical switch. The one that may or may not have volition, drive, yearning, hope. From this perspective, says Rodger Kamenetz, “Instead of souls on our way to God we are brains on our way to the pharmacy.”

Interesting to note that Zombies and the Brain trended at the same time. Maybe next will come The Soul of the Brain or The Brain of the Soul. One without the other is a flat earth perspective: parts never make a whole.