The Bookworm: Dealing with rude people and your brain

“How to Be a Genius”

by John Woodward, illustrated by Serge Seidlitz & Andy Smith

c. 2009, DK

$19.99/$23.99 Canada

192 pages, includes index

It was a big rush around your house the other day, and once you got where you were headed, you suddenly realized that you forgot your hat. Again.

Your mom is always reminding you to use your head with things like this, and now — because your head is cold — you wish you’d listened. You’ve tried everything to become a smarter kid. Can you train your brain?

Take a peek at the new book “How to Be a Genius” and see. You may be surprised to know that your brain is way a-head of you.

Think about all the things you can do now that you couldn’t do when you were a baby. You can run, play games, sing, remember your address, and follow a joke. And you can do it because of your brain, and because it grew as you grew and learned. In fact, by the time you were three years old, your brain had tripled in size.

There are two halves to your brain, the left side and the right side. If you are good at language, math, and writing, your left brain is dominant. If you’re good at art and music, your right brain is the one in charge. But that doesn’t mean you don’t use both sides of your brain, because you do: For instance, your right brain processes what your left eye sees, and vice versa. Plus, just like you’re right- or left-handed, you can be right-footed or left-eyed. Complicated? A little. But use your brain, and follow along.

Nobody else in the world has a brain like yours. Your brain can think about things both logically and illogically. It can envision what has never been built, and can appreciate what already has. It can figure things out by inference, and it can take you somewhere else through imagination. Your brain, like a big file-cabinet, stores information that is important and gets rid of what isn’t. So if you do poorly on a test, you can blame your brain, see?

The good news is that you can train your brain to work better by building neurons with puzzles and games, which can be kind of fun. And if you work hard enough, you might be the next Mozart, Gandhi, da Vinci, or Anning!

Got a budding M.D. in your house? If you do, getting “How to Be a Genius” is smart thinking.

Using kid-friendly photos, cartoon drawings, and small info-bites that are easy to read, this book gives curious kids a basic — although surprisingly thorough — overview of how their brains work in conjunction with the rest of their bodies and their senses. Mixed in with the information are puzzles to try and experiments that will help lead kids into different-thinking modes. This is one of those books that kids can browse without worry about missing something, and that you can enjoy, too.

If your child is looking to get a-head in life, look for “How to Be a Genius”. For 10-to-14-year-olds, having this book around is a no-brainer.

“I See Rude People”

by Amy Alkon

c. 2010, McGraw Hill

$16.95/$20.95 Canada

215 pages

For months, you were anticipating your visit to that certain restaurant. Everybody said it was worth the wait, and everybody was right. The menu was enticing; the ambiance, perfect; the entrée, to die for.

But then some yahoo at the next table got a call on his cell phone and he proceeded to loudly describe his latest medical procedure, ruining your appetite completely. You would’ve asked to be moved, but the only place available was near a table with three little hooligans, and the diners over there didn’t look very happy, either. So what do you do? Do you dare speak up?

Author Amy Alkon does, and in her new book “I See Rude People,” she writes about her crusade to pound some politeness into society.

Let’s say that, on your way to work, some jerk was tailgating you and when he swerved around to cut you off, he waved at you with one finger. If you were Amy Alkon, you’d whip out your ever-present digital camera and snap a picture of the guy’s license plate. Then you’d post it on your blog so that everybody in the world would know that the guy was an idiot.

Or let’s say you’re a victim of a crime and there are a thousand walls between you and justice. What would you do? If you were Alkon, you’d pull a few strings and find the criminal yourself. Then, you’d call the guy, repeatedly. You’d ask your mother to call the guy until he finally gave back what he took.

And what if you were at a nice restaurant and somebody started to have a loud cell phone conversation? Or someone’s kids started to throw a tantrum in a public place? Most people just glare, but Alkon brazenly asks the perpetrator to take it outside or use inside voices.

Why, you wonder, is rudeness so epidemic? Alkon says it’s because we live in large groups. When a society is smaller, it polices itself because the members all know one another and peer pressure keeps the peace. The solution, she says, is to remember kindness and consideration and try to make a difference, even if just a small one.

Author Amy Alkon warns that some readers may consider her tactics too harsh, or that her stand-up-for-herself stance is adding rudeness to rudeness. That could be, but it’s hard to argue with success, and it’s hard not to laugh at what Alkon says in this very entertaining book.

“I See Rude People” is going to make an awful lot of people say, “Heck, yes!” It’s a bold, confrontation-filled tale of one very un-Miss-Manners-like woman’s push for basic respect. And — depending on your size and how much you like your nose unbroken — it might be a map for manners, if you’ve got the time and the guts.

Wimps need not apply for the job of taking on rudeness, but we can all sure enjoy this literary taste of revenge. If you’re fed up, “I See Rude People” is a book you’ll want to see.

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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