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PT Bookshelf

Book reviews on autism, men on marriage, self-sabotage and women, a tour of the brain, and finding happiness.

A Mind Apart: Journeys In a Neurodiverse World

By Susanne Antonetta (Tarcher)

Rarely do we foresee gifts when faced with challenges. Antonetta, an award-winning author and poet, examines the lives of "neuroatypicals"—a new, more hopeful term describing people diagnosed with cognitive and emotional disorders like autism. Rather than focus on cure, she calls for us to recognize and respect the unique mental processes of neuroatypicals—to both help them and value their contributions in science, writing and art. Antonetta herself has bipolar disorder, and she uses her own experience to champion the unusual abilities of those who are differently wired.

Voice Male: What Husbands Really Think About Their Marriages, Their Wives, Sex, Housework and Commitment

By Neil Chethik (Simon and Schuster)

Chethik—an author whose first book explored men's feelings about losing their fathers—turns to men again, chronicling the emotional twists and turns of marriage. He probes the big questions with thorough research and telling details derived from more than 350 surveys and interviews. The academic analysis and narrative work well together, unveiling fragile modern men—including one who gets so rattled on his wedding day that he introduces his own brother to his parents.

Eating, Drinking, Overthinking: The Toxic Triangle of Food, Alcohol and Depression—and How Women Can Break Free

By Susan Nolen-Hoeksema (Henry Holt)

Psychologist Nolen-Hoeksema is known for her research in rumination, the self-destructive tendency to chew over bad experiences. Here, she identifies a pattern of heavy drinking, binge eating and intense self-criticism that afflicts many women. This "toxic triangle" is pervasive, poisonous and frequently unrecognized. One culprit: The typically female tendency to analyze problems rather than generate solutions. An astute analysis with useful recommendations for change.

The Three-Pound Enigma: The Human Brain and the Quest To Unlock Its Mysteries

By Shannon Moffett (Algonquin)

A tour of the brain, guided by a Stanford medical student. Moffett's curiosity about the mysteries of the mind was first prompted by a peek inside a cadaver's head. The firm three-pound blob felt like a block of cheese. She began to wonder: Where do memories live? What happens when we think? To answer her questions, Moffett profiles the scientists who are tackling these questions: one researcher tracking individual neurons to understand human consciousness, another examining the relationship between dreaming and waking, and yet another studying the workings of memory.

The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

By Jonathan Haidt (Basic Books)

Haidt's remedy for the modern glut of frivolous self-help literature is to review and revise the classics, examining the ideas of thinkers like Plato, Buddha and Jesus in light of modern research into human behavior. Along the way, Haidt, a social psychologist, provides practical advice for parenting, romance, work and coping with the political and cultural divisions currently preoccupying the country. The new science he outlines mostly confirms ancient wisdom, but Haidt finds several instances where the two disagree, suggesting that the surest path to happiness is to embrace and balance both old and new thinking.

The Secrets of Happily Married Men: Eight Ways To Win Your Wife's Heart Forever

By Scott Haltzman, M.D., with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo (Jossey-Bass)

Manly men rest assured: You can hope to become a better husband without having to get in touch with your feminine side. Psychiatrist Haltzman doesn't ask men to change so much as to harness their best masculine strengths. Lively and entertaining, this broad guidebook provides Haltzman's insights illuminated by anecdotes from his online discussion forum for married men. The upshot: Men would do well to approach their marriages with the same commitment and sense of purpose that they bring to a job.