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Commenting on my blog last week, ‘Michael’ suggested I compile a list of RSA books of the year. What a great idea. So, this week I will be featuring every day two books we have helped to launch here at the RSA in 2009. Then on Friday afternoon – partly depending on the feedback I get – I will reveal the RSA’s Book of the Year.

So, here are my first two nominations:

Adam Zeman – Portrait of the Brain

This is a wonderful book exploring the way the brain works through the prism of the case notes of a consultant neurologist. It is authoritative without being too heavy going, fascinating without being either sensationalist or voyeuristic about the individual cases Dr Zeman discusses. It has a great structure starting with the smallest particles in the brain and building to the whole question of human consciousness. I can’t think of a better introduction to the science of the brain.

Richard Thaler/Cass Sunstein – Nudge

Arguably the most discussed social policy book of the year - David Cameron put Nudge on his shadow cabinet summer reading list, and politicians of all parties claimed to be developing policies based on the Nudge principles of small interventions to encourage people to do the right thing. The book doesn’t contain anything particularly new to those well versed in behavioural economics and social psychology; its strength lies in connecting research on human behaviour, examples of successful ‘nudging’ and credible proposals for future policy. Indeed, no policy wonk would go to a 2008 Xmas party and be heard admitting they hadn’t read Nudge.

You can buy both from the RSA Bookshop!

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