When she isn’t writing the next heart-wrenching song capable of drowning listeners in tidal waves of emotion, you’d find Up Dharma Down frontwoman Armi Millare in a corner devouring a book.
Though Millare has yet to write a song based on a book, reading about social sciences and how the brain works gives her a better understanding of human emotions and relationships by exploring the realms of non-fiction. “It’s nice to observe from afar and also dive deeper through books, because there’s always a new development especially in these fields,” she tells BillboardPH. “Sometimes certain people respond to stimuli because of their genetic limitations or disabilities, but also the expanse of human emotion and psychology sometimes validates many things we’ve experienced—and to know more gets us to understand better.” With a penchant for non-fiction over novels, Millare’s vast collection mostly covers topics from empathy to fields in neuropsychology and sociology. “I just got into reading these kinds of books, because I wanted to know why or how I felt certain things.” She notes that it isn’t safe to self-diagnose, take these books too literally, or to base everything on them, and to see them merely as guides.
Here are the books that fed the brilliant mind of Armi Millare…
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Who doesn’t love a classic? I wasn’t much into novels, but mainly because I skipped the classics focusing on non-fiction since I was young, but I have found a voice in Oscar Wilde and it will forever be there.
Tales from a Traveling Couch by Dr. Robert Akeret
Tales from a Traveling Couch is a book I wanted for the longest time. Thanks to adulthood and Amazon for the speedy delivery. It features some of the doctor’s finest and strangest stories of his most memorable patients, like this man who fell in love with a circus animal.
The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
The Outliers by sociologist Malcolm Gladwell is one of those books I have read more than twice. Excellent writer, researcher and the facts always astound. All his books are awesome, but this one’s my favorite.
The Science of Evil by Simon Baron-Cohen
The Science of Evil is my current read and so far, so very good. I have been a fan of the Neurosciences since I first heard of the branch, doing my own little research about depression. But in this book, we are introduced to the marriage of two of my favorite fields of study: Social Neuroscience, focusing particularly on empathy or the lack of it. Amazing book.
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
Elon Musk is also a current read. I’m a fan of hard work, stories of success, and to hear about someone change the face and pace of innovation is just fantastic. He gives me hope, because he is hopeful for mankind. He is the coolest person alive right now—if the Russians don’t take him down.
The Woman Who Changed Her Brain by Barbara Arrowsmith Young
I got this book at the Hong Kong Airport looking for something to read. What made it so interesting was seeing Neuroplasticity work its way from a standpoint where our author was helpless with her cognitive disabilities. She was able to turn it around (I may have just ruined it for you), but the journey remains interesting. I like learning from first hand accounts about the value of perseverance and hard work, especially when mixed with science.
I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron
I Feel Bad About My Neck has been the book on my bedside table since it was given to me by a good friend for my 29th birthday. I have found no equal to the sheer genius of this woman. This can be easily consumed in one sitting, but because it’s so good you might be the type to TRY very hard not to finish it!
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat by Oliver Sacks
The title says it all. I always like for myself case studies, but what I love most about Oliver Sacks is how good he is at telling stories, and it’s always a trip to find someone effectively squeeze in some creativity in something so complicated as his field of expertise.
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
I first came across this book (a 1950’s hardbound print) not so long ago while on vacation. This particular book really turned me into novels. I came back for the old copy when I went back to the same library, but someone nicked it!
The Shallows by Nicholas Carr
It’s one of my favorite books loaned to me by a friend who also enjoyed neuroscience. It talks about how the brain adjusts (neuroplasticity) to our habits, and what happens when coupled with excessive Internet usage. It’s a struggle to quit social media altogether because of work but everytime I see this book I’m reminded of why I really should get my act together for my physical and emotional well-being.
This article originally appeared on Billboard Philippines.