What is it that separates Sherlock Holmes from his long-suffering friend and side-kick Dr John Watson? What makes Holmes such a superior detective, able to piece together clues and solve problems that seem elementary to Watson only in hindsight? And can we - most of us Watsons ourselves - ever harness a bit of Holmes's extraordinary powers of mind, not to solve crimes, but simply to improve our lives at work and home?
The answer is yes, and in Mastermind, psychologist Maria Konnikova shows us how. Using plots and passages from the wonderfully entertaining Holmes stories, she illuminates how Arthur Conan Doyle's detective embodies an ever-present mindfulness, and how this active mental disposition proves foundational to his success. Beginning with Holmes's concept of the 'brain attic' - a metaphor for the information we choose to store in the mind and how we organise our knowledge, Konnikova unpacks the mental strategies that lead to clearer thinking and deeper insights. Moving through principles of logic and deduction, creativity and imagination, Mastermind puts 21st century neuroscience and psychology in service of understanding Holmes's methods. With some self-awareness and a little practice, we can all employ these methods to develop better strategies, solve difficult problems and enhance our creative powers.
Writing for Holmes fans and casual readers alike, Konnikova has translated what so many of us love about the great detective into a remarkable guide to upgrading the mind.
* Fascinating...A delightful tour of the science of memory, creativity and reasoning -- Steven Pinker * An entertaining blend of Holmesiana and modern-day neuroscience New York Times * Here is a giant helping of Daniel Kahnemann, a tincture of Atul Gawande, a whiff of Nassim Taleb, a dollop of Jonah Lehrer...and the whole assemblage served, Heston Blumenthal-style, in a deerstalker hat -- Sam Leith Guardian * Devotees of Arthur Conan Doyle's conundrum-cracker will be thrilled by this portmanteau of strategies for sharpening cognitive ability Nature * Serves the non-Holmes aficionado as a route into the stories without any spoilers. And for those of us who have enjoyed the intellectual might of the great detective before, it gives us a fresh insight into Conan Doyle's deductive masterpieces We Love This Book * Ingenious... thoughtful... covers a wide variety of material clearly and organizes it well Wall Street Journal Steven Pinker meets Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in this entertaining, insightful look at how the fictional London crime-solver used sophisticated mental strategies to solve complex problems of logic and deduction...This practical, enjoyable book, packed with modern science and real-life examples, shows you how to get your inner Holmes on and is worth at least a few hours of pipe-smoking reflection in a comfortable leather chair Boston Globe * Based on modern neuroscience and psychology, the book explores Holmes's aptitude for mindfulness, logical thinking and observation... Washington Post * Bright and entertaining ... Will enthrall Baker Street aficionados while introducing many readers to the mindful way of life Kirkus * Not for Baker Street Irregulars alone, this fascinating look at how the mind works-replete with real-life case studies and engaging thought experiments-will be an eye-opening education for many Publisher's Weekly * Konnikova's aim is not to make us better at solving crimes but to turn us into sharper and more creative problem solvers in our everyday lives. She offers numerous research-based, easy-to-follow suggestions for improving our awareness Toronto Star * A good self-help guide for clearer thinking, setting a clear framework to train your mind to think and approach problems like Holmes would, as well as a unique approach towards Holmes for anyone interested in the detective himself -- Sam Harby Nudge * With wit and real flair, Konnikova suggests that by properly harnessing the great detective's [Sherlock Holmes] methods we can significantly improve our mental ability... Konnikova offers a way to turbo-charge our mental faculties, enhancing creative thinking and developing our powers of logic Good Book Guide * An insightful guide... Konnikova's essay, mixed with lovely descriptions from the Holmes library, makes for a pleasant excursion into the patterns of our brain and how we might improve Globe & Mail * A treatise on how the Watsons of the world can smarten up...culled from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original works and cutting-edge psych research New York Post * Weaving together the fictional detective's cases and modern day neuroscience... important for solving cases or simply staying sharp as we age Psychology Today * Mastermind is the book I didn't realize I was waiting for... surprising and ingenious... a gift to all readers interested in Conan Doyle, mysteries and scientific thinking as well as those who simply want to be more self-aware about the inner workings of our mind -- Matthew Pearl author of The Dante Club * Maria Konnikova, a science writer and graduate student in psychology, has crafted a clearly written guide to the mysteries of logical deduction Dallas Morning News * The book is part literary analysis and part self-help guide, teaching readers how to sharpen the ways they observe the world, store and retrieve memories, and make decisions Scientific American * Far from elementary, Maria Konnikova's new book is a challenging and insightful study of the human mind, illustrated with cases from the career of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes himself would have been proud to author this fine work! -- Leslie S. Klinger author of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes * Maria Konnikova's bright and brilliant new book is nothing less than a primer on how be awake, a manual on how to work ourselves free of our unconscious biases, our habitual distractions, and the muddle of our everyday minds. Holmes fan or not, the reader will find Mastermind to be bracing, fascinating, and above all - and most important - hopeful -- Daniel Smith author of Monkey Mind * A delightfully intelligent book -- Carl Zimmer author of Soul Made Flesh and Parasite Rex * Ms Konnikova has that rare ability to make the complex easily understandable. And enjoyable, too. The reader is enlightened, and also entertained Business Times