Book Review: Bizarre by Marc Dingman


The brain is the most complex organ in the human body and understanding its complexity probably turns you off. 

Terms like the cerebrum, cerebellum, frontal cortex, and synapses may sound nerdy and incomprehensible but there's one professor and author who believes it doesn't have to be a struggle to appreciate the brain. 

In fact, learning its functions and its implications on our thinking and actions can bring a positive impact on our lives. 

Marc Dingman is a neuroscientist, professor, and writer. While he teaches health courses at Pennsylvania State University, on the side, he writes and creates videos on his website and YouTube channel about neuroscience, brain mechanism, and their effects on human behavior. 

Bizarre is his second book.


As we go about our day, we may feel it's just an ordinary day as we choose what to have for breakfast or what to wear, but looking closely, the brain is working hard to process millions of bits of information that it absorbs. 

The book Bizarre illustrates the spectrum of things that happen inside this powerful organ between our ears, from the most mundane to the most extraordinary. 


  • The brain has a collection of regions that work together to accomplish a task.

  • Damage to a brain region causes strange disorders such as Cotard’s syndrome which makes people who are affected by it feel that they are already dead or they don't have internal organs anymore.

  • Studying and understanding how the brain works can help us appreciate its role and its impact on the human condition. 

  • The human condition contains a wide range of human behavior caused by different brain mechanisms that may be considered normal or beyond normal. This questions the usual definition of normalcy among people.

  • Enjoy every moment of living, especially when you still have a normal-functioning brain. 


  1. Discuss the thoughts/ideas that come to your mind when you see the words “brain and bizarre”. 

  2. What did you learn from the book?

  3. Has this book changed the way you see the brain?

  4. How did the author balance storytelling and stating facts?

  5. What information shocked you?

  6. Which passages of the book were the most impressive?

  7. Discuss some questions that the book raises.

  8. What were your first thoughts after reading the book?

  9. Which of the human behaviors caused by changes in the brain mechanisms intrigues you the most? Explain.

  10. Would you recommend this book to your friend? Why or why not?


“To your brain, having a rational interpretation of life’s events is critically important. Without it, the world quickly becomes an unpredictable, incomprehensible, and ultimately unbearable place.“

“This type of unintentional fabrication is known as confabulation, and your brain does it more often than you’d like to believe.”

“The necessity of robust connections in the brain has been an important realization in modern neuroscience.”

“The more you study the brain, the more you realize that the idea of a “normal” brain is a bit unrealistic, at least in the way we typically conceptualize it.”

“So, take advantage of the functionality of your brain while you still can: create memories, experience emotion, indulge in pleasure (and practice restraint), think deeply, engage your body—do all those things that your brain permits you to do, and do them with great gusto.”


  • The stories that illustrated different brain conditions are intriguing and not altogether boring. They are page-turners. 

  • The stories are not only all about the atypical mental conditions but also the extraordinary ones. Stories of people who became savants after brain injury are equally fascinating. 

  • The parts of the brain are defined and described in a way that is not confusing. 

  • A copious amount of research studies strongly backed up the stories and the author's points.

  • The goal of the author was to help the reader appreciate the brain more after reading the book, and, for me, he was successful.


  • I enjoyed this book so much that I couldn't find one thing that I didn't love. 


In 2015, I started reading books about brain science to understand why it was easy for me to get mad even at the smallest things. My curiosity opened my eyes to be more aware of myself when anger sets in which helps me manage this fiery emotion better than before, and it opened a path to delve deeper into how the brain works which increases my self-compassion and self-confidence. 

If you are a neuroscience enthusiast or have just started to understand the brain to understand yourself, Marc Dingman's Bizarre is a great addition to your repertoire of learning resources. Aside from explaining the functions of the different parts of the brain, it also illustrates the strange phenomena involving brain dysfunctions through real stories of people from different walks of life. The author also invites the readers to widen their perspective when it comes to the human condition concerning the inner workings of the brain.

A book about the brain without defining the function of each of its parts is like a map without any roads. The readers would be lost in grasping the stories and insights as they would become meaningless and unrelatable. The nomenclature of the brain regions such as the prefrontal cortex, basal ganglia, and occipital lobe can be a mouthful but they are important in understanding the brain mechanisms that govern human behavior. One example is the basal ganglia which help us talk by controlling the tongue positions in our mouth to produce the correct sound of a letter. It also controls our breathing and rhythm as we speak. Another part is the amygdala which evaluates emotions. When there's a threat, it activates the fight or flight response in our body, preparing the body to face the threat or to run away from it. The regions of the brain work together for us to survive and thrive.

However, brain mechanisms can be affected by certain brain conditions and produce atypical behaviors. For instance, one 46-year-old woman whose plausibility-checking mechanism was faulty complained that her brain and internal organs were gone. Contrarily, a man who hasn't learned to play the piano became a virtuoso after a concussion accident. More fascinating and strange but eye-opening stories like these are told in the book, making the book a page-turner as they sustained my curiosity until the last very page. 

The brain is indeed amazing when it comes to what it can do to help us survive and thrive, but it is also equally astonishing when its mechanisms are altered by a condition that can massively affect our life. With this reality, Dingman encourages readers to recognize the brain’s wonder and get the most out of life using its power. “So, take advantage of the functionality of your brain while you still can: create memories, experience emotion, indulge in pleasure (and practice restraint), think deeply, engage your body—do all those things that your brain permits you to do, and do them with great gusto.” Life becomes more meaningful with the knowledge of neuroscience. 

It is without a doubt that Bizarre is a must-read book about the brain. It explains the functionality of the brain, tells the stories of many people who have different brain wirings, and shows that the brain can be extraordinary or strange. It lets us see the brain's significance in our lives. If you are curious, I highly recommend that you read this book.

Thank you, Marc Dingman and NetGalley for the opportunity to read the ARC and give my honest thoughts about it. 


Marc Dingman's Website


Book Information:

Bizarre by Marc Dingman

Published on February 7, 2023, by Nicholas Brealey

281 pages (eBook)

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