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The Times

"This wonderfully clear, fluent, eye-opening book explores what happens when the mind misbehaves: distance is distorted, memory plays tricks, people hear in colour and see in music. Helen Thomson is the science teacher you wish you'd had at school 

. . .The unruliness of the misfiring brain is what makes Unthinkable so fascinating and so frightening . . . Thomson's book repays careful reading. Don't skip the science to get on to the well-I-never case histories. You need both together. And when the doctors Thomson interviews conclude, at the end of their examinations, that they simply cannot explain the weird workings of the brain, it isn't a "dunno" of defeat, but of wonder"


The Observer (Book of the day)

"By the end of her journey she had certainly persuaded me to see the world differently"

The Sunday Telegraph

"Fun facts are what make popular science popular. Helen Thomson's first book has a ready supply of them, and she is good at giving them context . . . there is much of interest here"

The Evening Standard

"Refreshingly personal... humane and often humorous"

The Scotsman

"By including both clear explanations of recent research and interviews with her subjects about their lived experience, Thomson shows how our own brains might try to make sense of the world"



"A stirring scientific journey, a celebration of human diversity and a call to rethink the 'unthinkable'"


"Imagine turning into a tiger. Or getting permanently lost in your own one bedroom home. It sounds like the stuff of nightmares - but this is the engrossing subject of Thomson's exploration of extraordinary brains. With flair and empathy, the author sees her subjects in the context of their everyday lives, allowing us to marvel at their humanity . . . accessible, well researched, thought-provoking. Like The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Unthinkable offers us a wondrous array of rare and weird disorders...This lucid and compelling book not only celebrates the incredible machinery we call the brain, it's also full of insights and invaluable tips"

The Big Issue

"Thomson brings intellectual rigour to each subject, discussing history, causes, treatment and more, in what amounts to an utterly fascinating romp around the nether regions of the human mind"

The Bookseller (Editor's Pick)

​"Exceptional... From seeing auras and turning into a tiger, to waking up 'dead' and being able to remember every single day of your life in vivid detail, award-winning science journalist Thomson investigates wondrously rare and strange brain disorders in this terrific debut. While acknowledging her debt to the late, great Oliver Sacks, Thomson sets out to do things to differently by meeting her nine subjects not in clinical environments but as they live their daily lives with extraordinary brains. Theirs are mystery stories, spellbinding and true"

Press Association

"Ty including both clear explanations of research and interviews with her subjects about their lived experience, Thomson shows how our own brains might try to make sense of the world in the same ways, with fun experiments to trick ourselves into hallucinating or even believing we've an alien limb"



"Helen Thomson's remarkable book is an astonishing tour of the human brain in all its awesome power and bewildering variation. In beautiful prose, she seamlessly dances between conversations with nine extraordinary people, and beautiful explanations of how the brain works. Unthinkable will enrich your brain, blow your mind, and warm your heart"

Armand Marie Leroi, author of MUTANTS

 "A tender, beautiful book. Helen Thomson is the new cartographer of the human mind. Anyone who seeks the limits of humanity should read it"

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