“A brilliant beast of a book”, David Byrne

Being You – A New Science of Consciousness

The Top 10 Sunday Times Bestseller
A New Statesman, Economist, & Bloomberg Book of the Year
A Financial Times and Guardian Science Book of the Year

Being You is not as simple as it sounds

Somehow, within each of our brains, billions of neurons work to create our conscious experience. How does this happen? Why do we experience life in the first person? Being You – A New Science of Consciousness will challenge your understanding of perception and reality, and turn what you thought you knew about yourself on its head.

Being You is out now in hardback, paperback, eBook, and audiobook (read by me), and in several translations.

Reviews of Being You

“[W]hen the latest would-be Einstein announces yet another theory, my eyes start to glaze over in anticipation of drivel and disappointment. Neuroscientist Anil Seth’s “Being You” is the exception that proves the rule. If you only read one book about consciousness, it must be his.”
— Julian Baggini, The Wall Street Journal,

“… a brilliant and profound book that explains how our perception of the world, ourselves included, is a “controlled hallucination” … constructed as much from the inside out as the outside in.”
— Ian Sample, The Guardian, Best Science Books of the Year

“His writing is fascinating”
Financial Times, Best Science Books of the Year

“… awe-inspiring and humane: Seth believes there is comfort in seeing ourselves more clearly and understanding that consciousness is finite.”
New Statesman, Best Books of the Year

“… a pioneering neuroscientist takes readers to the edge of what is known, how scientists know it, and, most importantly, how that knowledge could be made useful in medicine and psychology.”
The Economist, Best Books of the Year

“Seth … deftly weaves the philosophical, biological and personal with a lucid clarity and coherence that is thrilling to read … consciousness [is] one of the most exciting scientific frontiers, and nobody is better placed to guide us there … this much-anticipated book lays out his radical theory of our invented reality with accessible and compelling writing … Being You is an exhilarating book: a vast-ranging, phenomenal achievement that will undoubtedly become a seminal text.”
— Gaia Vince, The Guardian, Book of the Week

“Beside my bed this week is Anil Seth’s “Being You” It is a brilliant book”
— Claire Tomalin, New York Times

“In lucid, engaging prose Seth deftly navigates long-standing philosophical debates over the nature of consciousness… awe-inspiring.”
— Sophie McBain, New Statesman

“We have all been asking ourselves recently, how can so many starkly different realities co-exist? Seth provides some answers”
— Kymberly Pinder, Bloomberg, Best Books of the Year

“Seth makes a convincing case that perception masquerades as conscious reality… Fluent and accessible.”
Financial Times

“engaging and accessible …  a compelling picture, and a salutary corrective for those who think of consciousness as a disembodied process, whether psychic or computational”
— Keith Frankish, Times Literary Supplement

“Drawing on philosophy, biology, cognitive science, neuroscience and artificial intelligence, he argues that our brains are prediction machines that constantly invent our world and then correct our mistakes, so that our sense of self derives from our body.”
Nature, Science Picks of the Week

Being You is an engaging and accessible tour through the field’s boldest theories, most creative experiments and most surprising findings. You could give the book to a smart teenager and get them asking questions that they will be thinking about for  the rest of their lives”
— Jonathan Birch and Andrew Crump, Current Biology

“Imaginative and compelling…”
Scientific American, Editor’s Recommendations

“Beautifully written, easy to read, hard to put down. It’s passionate, it’s not patronising, not simplistic or anything like that … In some ways it reminds me of Oliver Sacks’s writing because Seth is very humane and sensitive and thoughtful as a writer. It’s a great book.”
Nigel Warburton, Five Books, Best Philosophy Books of the Year

“Anil Seth’s Being You is an outstanding book. It explores one of the most difficult and perplexing topics, consciousness, in an accessible way without sacrificing scientific rigor.”
John Johnson, Psychology Today

“An accessible, unfailingly interesting look inside the workings of the human brain, celebrating its beguiling nature.”

“[Seth’s] extraordinary debut sets out his exhilarating new theory about how we experience the world.”
The Bookseller, Editor’s Choice

“[Anil Seth] takes on the prodigious task of defining consciousness and explaining its origins in this intense survey.”
Publishers Weekly

“Bracingly revisionist and deeply fascinating, Seth’s rigorous new analysis of human consciousness is a game-changing volume for our understanding of the interrelationship between perception and reality..”

“I expected it to be good, but I was blown away: it’s exhilarating, informed, passionate and provocative in equal measure—as much a groundbreaking work of philosophy as of science. It’s a book that lingers with you, while at the same time forcing you to rethink exactly who and what “you” are.”
— James Wilsdon, Research Professional News

Being You is a beautifully writtern book about consciousness. It pulls of the seemingly impossible trick of being a deeply personal account of the author’s own life and conscious experiences, while also being a substantial contribution to the philosophy and science of consciousness … Seth is exceptionally good at explaining complex scientific ideas in clear, concise, and accessible ways.”
— Mark Sprevak, Philosophical Psychology

“With a lucid and sharp writing style, Seth paints a colourful landscape of interrelated topics, all fascinating and important … accessible to the layperson and a must-read for the expert.”
— Alex Gomez-Marin, Journal of Consciousness Studies

Being You is a fantastic exposition to a family of revolutionary ideas gaining increasing support both from neuroscience and artificial-intelligence research. It is a much-rewarding read, both for people familiar with the central questions of consciousness and the interested newcomer. It is too early for anyone to write the definitive book on the subject, but with Being You, Seth has gotten closer to it than many before him.”
— Felix Haas, World Literature Today

What people are saying...

“One of the most authoritative voices in a central question of neuroscience: what is consciousness? His new book is a page-turner and a mind-blower. If you’ve ever wondered how billions of neurons chattering in the dark equate to your experience, start here… Beautifully written, crystal clear, deeply insightful.”
David Eagleman, neuroscientist at Stanford University, writer and host of the Emmy-nominated PBS television series The Brain, and author of Livewired and Incognito

“A brilliant beast of a book. A wide ranging synthesis pulling together disparate stands—from philosophy, science, literature, personal experience and speculation—this latter being the most exciting for me, despite some proposals being as yet unproven. Seth proposes to explain not just what and how we are, but probably provocative for some folks, why we are the way we are. Why do we have the feeling of continually being the same person? (When obviously I, at least, am not.) Why do we have this feeling of being self aware? What is it for? Hugely inspirational—I filled up 10 pages with exuberant notes. Keep a pencil handy.”
David Byrne, founding member of Talking Heads, and author of How Music Works

“Seth provokes us to think about thinking. And he offers what the interested reader always needs—a book which makes complex ideas readable, relatable, and gripping. If you want to understand his subject better—he’ll help you. And who wouldn’t want to better understand consciousness? In our lives, there is nothing weirder or more fundamental.”
Alex Garland, director of EX MACHINA

Being You offers us a new cause for astonishment and wonder. Through expert science writing and engaging personal narrative, Anil gives us a new perspective on everything we perceive, down to space and time itself. Being You is a must read for anyone seeking a better understanding of the brain and how nature sculpts the human experience.”
Annaka Harris, author of Conscious

“Reality is real, but how our brains construct a picture of reality—perceiving, integrating, predicting—is far from direct. It’s a complicated, fascinating mess, which neuroscientists are just beginning to piece together. Anil Seth’s Being You is a wonderfully accessible and comprehensive account of how our minds capture the world, and how that makes us who we are.”
Sean Carroll, author of Something Deeply Hidden

“In this lucid and thought-provoking exploration of the nature of consciousness, Seth takes us closer than ever to making sense of our experience of being conscious selves. A must-read.”
Anil Ananthaswamy, award-winning journalist and author of Through Two Doors at Once and The Man Who Wasn’t There

“A fascinating book. A joy to read. Anil Seth explores fundamental questions about consciousness and the self from the perspective of a philosophically-informed neuroscientist. Highly recommended.”
Nigel Warburton, bestselling author of A Little History of Philosophy and Philosophy: The Basics

“Insightful and profound. The nature of consciousness is still one of the hardest problems in science, but Anil Seth brings us closer than ever before to the answer. This a hugely important book.”
Jim Al-Khalili, author of The World According to Physics and presenter of BBC The Life Scientific

“What makes you, you? What explains your consciousness and sense of self? In this remarkable and ground-breaking work, Anil Seth offers a surprising answer, rooted in the new science of the predictive brain. Compulsory reading for anyone who wants to better understand their inner ‘beast machine.’”
Andy Clark, author of Surfing Uncertainty: Prediction, Action, and the Embodied Mind

“Anil Seth was my most anticipated guest in 2021 and our conversation was one of the highlights of the year. If you can only read one book this year it should be Being You.”
Ginger Campbell, Host of the Brain Science, the world’s leading neuroscience podcast

“There could hardly be a better guide to the theories—good and bad—currently swirling around the science of consciousness. Seth writes with grace and charm, gently demolishing bad ideas—such as panpsychism, and Integrated Information Theory—while building a case for his own very good idea that consciousness is a kind of controlled hallucination, the brain’s best guess at inventing the future.”
Nicholas Humphrey, neuropsychologist and author A History of the Mind and Soul Dust

“Seth is uniquely placed to truly advance our understanding of one of humanity’s deepest riddles.”
Chris Anderson, Curator of TED

“The treatment of consciousness on offer is eclectic and delivered with a particular kind of generosity: it is both generous to the reader, in its earnest (and successful) attempt to lay bare the essentials of different contributions. It is generous to these contributions per se: ranging from anaesthesia—the art of turning people into objects—from information theory to the Wizards of Odds (abductive Bayesian inference), from the Beholder’s Share to the free energy principle—aptly defined as there are more ways of being mush than there are of being alive. It’s dénouement is a millennial take on being A Beast Machine: a potent account of embodied sentience and selfhood. An account that is rendered irresistible by Anil Seth’s gentle and inclusive arguments.”
Karl Friston, University College London, ranked by Semantic Scholar as the most influential neuroscientist in the world

“Anil Seth is one of the world’s leading consciousness researchers—his take on the subject is unique and refreshing, and his talks and writing always exciting, accessible, and engaging.”
Christof Koch, President and Chief Scientific Officer of the Allen Brain Institute, Seattle, and author of Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist

“Anil Seth thinks clearly and sharply on one of the hardest problems of science and philosophy, cuts through weeds with a scientist’s mind and a storyteller’s skill … Being You is the brightest picture yet on the science of consciousness..”
Adam Rutherford, author of A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, and presenter of BBC Inside Science

Excerpts from Being You