by Winifred Gallagher
(Penguin, $26)
“For a book about focusing, Rapt can be frustratingly scattered,” said Laura Miller in Salon.com. But author Winifred Gallagher “deserves credit” for highlighting how attention works and for proposing that “the skillful management” of it is “the key to improving virtually every aspect” of life. Though Gallagher might have said more about the blissful state referred to in her title, she’s very good at explaining why the time we fritter away on Twitter or CNN.com will only increase if we don’t consciously limit it.

The End of Overeating
by David A. Kessler
(Rodale, $26)
Dr. David Kessler has a “startling” theory about why Americans overeat, said Lyndsey Layton in The Washington Post. The former Food and Drug Administration chief says that any food high in fat, salt, or sugar rewires the brain so that—at least for most people—cravings are triggered by mere suggestion of the food and can’t ever be sated. Defeating the problem won’t be easy, he says, since our food industry actually designs products with this neuro­science in mind.

The Talent Code
by Daniel Coyle
(Random House, $25)
The big idea behind this well-crafted book “boils down to little more than ‘practice makes perfect,’” said Michael Bond in New Scientist. This unromantic view of the source of world-class talent has already been popularized by Malcolm Gladwell’s best-seller Outliers. You read Daniel Coyle because his examples are particularly instructive, and because he delves more deeply into “what happens to the architecture of the brain” during the practice of a skill.

Why Don’t Students Like School?
by Daniel T. Willingham
(Jossey-Bass, $25)
Psychology professor Daniel Willingham is “something of an iconoclast” about educational theory, said Christopher F. Chabris in The Wall Street Journal. In his new book, he asks nine questions that a teacher might pose to a cognitive scientist, and his “brilliant analysis” of recent research produces surprising advice. Content is more important than “learning strategies,” he says, and kids get bored because teachers know too little about the line between a mind that’s understimulated and one that’s overwhelmed.