I have written one book for the trade press, and I am busy writing another one now. My style is to present a single overarching idea – a thesis – and use it as a springboard into a synoptic overview of a fascinating topic. The texts I write mix historical narratives, scientific experiments and everyday common sense to illustrate the rich themes that my topics encompass.
My first book was on music and its role in culture and psychology – see below. My next book will be on body language. This new manuscript in progress has a surprising and novel thesis, which has been attracting interest from publishing professionals and should resonate widely with many people.
Witchel, Harry (2011): You Are What You Hear: How Music and Territory Make Us Who We Are, available to buy here on Amazon.
Have you ever wondered why music makes you feel so good? Why did we evolve to have music, and what does music do to us? You Are What You Hear is a bit of a romp compared to the usual science book. Based on my interest in music, pleasure and the brain, I explain how the body and the brain are influenced by different kinds of music, why some music makes us joyous, while other music makes us sad, or angry, or anxious, and how the brain interprets this music. I also show how music plays with our minds – what you think, how you decide what to buy, and even how smart you are. Throughout history, right up to the present day, armies have used music to energise their troops and conquer their enemies. How is it that your own music can empower you, while the wrong music can make you frustrated, worried, or hopeless? I show how music is a territorial display, and that it has been used throughout human history as a way to create group coherence and to disperse outsiders. In this book I bring together amusing historical anecdotes and engaging scientific evidence to explore how and why different groups use different music to claim their space and reinforce their identities. You really are what you hear!
An interview with BBC WORLD SERVICE about You Are What You Hear: