The Mind & the Brain (2002, by Jeffrey M. Schwarz, Harper Collins).
For those of us of a somewhat spiritual bent, modern science offers much to be dejected about. The premise of modern science is that all phenomenon, including human aspiration and feeling and passion, can be reduced to logical and predictable interactions between ions, electrons, amino acids, neurotransmittters. If you really listen to what science says, and believe it, you're left with the empty sensation that free will doesn't exist at all.
Schwarz, though, points out that modern behavioral science never really grew beyond Newtonian physics. All that it takes to restore the wonder about the nature of human consciousness is to learn a little bit about quantum physics, which not only make room for human consciousness and free will, but argues that nothing else really explains the way the world operates.
I can by no means do justice to the author's arguments in a few short paragraphs. Suffice it to say that this is truly exciting work that seems to offer genuine evidence that our intuition was right when we decided that human consciousness was something magical and mystical and worthy of our wonder.
My film recommendation is a bit harder this month. Not much that blew my socks off. So rather than a single recommendation, I'll simply give one-to-five star reviews of the last few I've seen:
Sherlock Holmes. Three stars. Pleasant diversion with interesting twists on the personalities of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. But needlessly complicated plot line that grew tedious in hour two.
Avatar. Three stars. Startling technology that makes you want to buy the DVD for the special effects features. But James Cameron is about as deep (shallow) as George Lucas in his handling of archetypal mythologies.
It's Complicated. Two stars Delightful acting by Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin. Tedious plot and terrible written dialogue.
The Road. 3 stars. Yeah, depressing, but very finely acted. You have to be into post-apocalyptic nightmares, though.