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Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes Hardcover – January 3, 2013


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Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes + Success Secrets of Sherlock Holmes: Life Lessons from the Master Detective + The Sherlock Holmes Handbook
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; Reprint edition (January 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670026573
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670026579
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Entertaining blend of Holmesiana and modern-day neuroscience." (The New York Times)

"Ingenious...thoughtful...covers a wide variety of material clearly and organizes it well." (The 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 detection...practical, enjoyable book, packed with modern science." (The Boston Globe)

"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, "Required Reading")

"Devotees of Arthur Conan Doyle's conundrum-cracker will be thrilled by this portmanteau of strategies for sharpening cognitive ability." (Nature)

"Weaving together the fictional detective's cases and modern day neuroscience...important for solving cases or simply staying sharp as we age." (Psychology Today)


"Based on modern neuroscience and psychology, the book explores Holmes's aptitude for mindfulness, logical thinking and observation...shares strategies that can lead to clearer thinking...help people become more self-aware" (Washington Post)

"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 minds." (Matthew Pearl, New York Times-bestselling author of The Dante Club)


"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, Starred Review)

"Bright and entertaining ... Will enthrall Baker Street aficionados while introducing many readers to the mindful way of life." (Kirkus Reviews)


“An entertaining blend of Holmesiana and modern-day neuroscience.”
New York Times
 
“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
 
“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
 
“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
 
Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes is fascinating from cover to cover — highly recommended.”
—Brain Pickings
 
“Your favorite mental short-cuts and slip-ups are all here. But Ms. Konnikova finds an ingenious delivery system. Holmes and Watson, she shows, respectively personify our rational and intuitive modes of thought. In story after story, taking the time to think carefully allows Holmes to school his slack-jawed sidekick.”
The Wall Street Journal
 
“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
 
“The fast-paced, high-tech world we inhabit may be more complex than Sherlock Holmes’s Baker Street, but we can still leverage the mental strategies of the renowned reasoner…Forcing the mind to observe, imagine and deduce can make the brain more precise—important for solving cases or simply staying sharp as we age.”
Psychology Today
 
“Devotees of Arthur Conan Doyle’s conundrum-cracker will be thrilled by this portmanteau of strategies for sharpening cognitive ability... A few hours in Konnikova’s company and, along with Holmes, you might intone, ‘give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere’ (The Sign of Four, 1890).”
Nature
 
“Have you ever thought about how your mind organizes information? Have you ever wished you could access that data more quickly? Could recollect it easier? Or have you simply wanted to think more clearly at key moments?... This book is an absolute must if you're in the market for training yourself to think more like Sherlock Holmes.”
—SheKnows.com
 
“A bright and entertaining how-to aimed at helping readers engage in the awareness described by psychologists from William James to Ellen Langer.”
Kirkus Reviews
 
“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.” —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
 
“A delightful tour of the science of memory, creativity, and reasoning, illustrated with the help of history’s most famous reasoner, Sherlock Holmes himself. Maria Konnikova is an engaging and insightful guide to this fascinating material, which will help you master your own mind.”
—Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Stuff of Thought
 
“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, New York Times-best-selling author/editor 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
 
“Since my earliest days as a reader I dreamt of being more like Sherlock Holmes and failed miserably whenever I tried. Needless to say, MASTERMIND is the book I didn't realize I was waiting for. Maria Konnikova has crafted a surprising and ingenious book that lets us all come closer to Holmes's genius, giving 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 minds.”
—Matthew Pearl, New York Times-bestselling author of The Dante Club
 
“‘You know my methods,’ Sherlock Holmes once said to Dr. Watson. ‘Apply them!’ Science writer Maria Konnikova has made those instructions the inspiration for what turns out to be a delightfully intelligent book. Using Holmes and Watson as both muse and metaphor, she shows us some of modern psychology’s most important lessons for using our minds well. I probably won’t be able to solve murders after having read Mastermind, but I will have much to reflect on.”
—Carl Zimmer, author of Soul Made Flesh and Parasite Rex

From the Back Cover

"A delightful tour of the science of memory, creativity, and reasoning, illustrated with the help of history's most famous reasoner, Sherlock Holmes himself. Maria Konnikova is an engaging and insightful guide to this fascinating material, which will help you master your own mind."  (Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Stuff of Thought)

"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, New York Times-best-selling author/editor 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 Memoir of Anxiety)

"'You know my methods,' Sherlock Holmes once said to Dr. Watson. 'Apply them!' Science writer Maria Konnikova has made those instructions the inspiration for what turns out to be a delightfully intelligent book. Using Holmes and Watson as both muse and metaphor, she shows us some of modern psychology's most important lessons for using our minds well. I probably won't be able to solve murders after having read Mastermind, but I will have much to reflect on." (Carl Zimmer, author of Soul Made Flesh and Parasite Rex)

More About the Author

Maria Konnikova is the author of the New York Times best-seller, "Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes." She is a contributing writing for The New Yorker online and her writing has appeared online and in print in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Slate, The Paris Review, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, Salon, The Boston Globe, WIRED, The Observer, Scientific American MIND, The Smithsonian, and Scientific American, among numerous other publications. Her second book, "The Confidence Game," will be published by Viking/Penguin in 2015. She formerly wrote the "Literally Psyched" column for Scientific American and the popular psychology blog "Artful Choice" for Big Think. She graduated from Harvard University and received her Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University. She lives in New York City and is currently completing her first novel.

Customer Reviews

This book was very interesting to read with very good tips.
Merribe
Each week, he demonstrates the intellectual curiosity as well as observation and analytical skills for which Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is renowned.
Robert Morris
If it were possible given the current rating system, I would give this book 3.5 stars.
Litterarum Studiosus

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

287 of 300 people found the following review helpful By Michael S. on January 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The first thing that strikes you as you read through the book is that it feels like a collection of essays and articles stretched into a book more than a fluid book itself. Indeed, Mastermind was based on a series of articles that the author wrote for two different web sites: Big Think and Scientific American.

Another issue with the book is that it isn't quite sure if it wants to be a psychology book, explaining key cognitive concepts through the framework of Sherlock Holmes, or a pop culture book, looking at what Sherlock Holmes can tell us about cognition and psychology. As a result, it fails to really be either. The book alternates between analyzing the deductive prowess of Sherlock Holmes and explaining current research in cognitive psychology, but the switch between the two is sometimes jarring. There isn't a fluid amalgamation of the two. Furthermore, it struggles to be an elaborate analysis of Holmes' deductive reasoning, with latter chapters reframing concepts from earlier ones. The book takes a very long time to explain too few concepts that require less detail than what is actually given.

The book ultimately might be mistitled. One would expect a book subtitled "How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes" to actually have instructive steps and exercises, but it does not. The only clear recommendation is to maintain a journal. Other elements are analyzed, but no actual instructions are given on how to successfully implement them in daily life. For example, after reading extensively about mindfulness, you really only come away with the idea that you have to be more mindful, and very little on how exactly to set up a successful regimen to train yourself to be more mindful.
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109 of 117 people found the following review helpful By T. Hampton on April 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I pre-ordered this in a moment of weakness after reading an article about it. There isn't much to it. Of course, Sherlock's powers are observation are keen; he is a fictional character and the stories would suffer if he wasn't. So the self-contradictory lessons of this book, boiled down: (1) focus on the important things and disregard any distractions, and (2) but be keenly aware of the totality of your surroundings, and details no matter how trivial. No great practical advice on how to do either, even if you could. Skip this book.
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Format: Hardcover
As usual, I received this book for nothing from a GoodReads giveaway but despite that kindness I give it my candid opinion below.

Our author's submission is one of those that tries to be two things at once, cross-selling you on a bit of neuroscience in the context of Sherlock Holmes as favorite fictional genius. The basic format boils down to something like this:

* Quote from a Sherlock Holmes story
* Here's what Holmes did that was so genius
* Here's what Watson, mental midget, did. [explanation of psychological foible or misapprehension Watson succombed too]
* Don't be like Watson; here's how you can think more like Holmes

As a pattern, it's not bad. Assuming the reader is a fan of Holmes, it's a fairly good gateway to the headier topics of Neuroscience and Psychology.

Personally, I found the whole thing rather cloying. I've read a dozen books on this topic so the slow and easy introduction to the science was rather annoying and ponderous. I found myself skimming over the quotes and introductory banter to find the real meat of what she was trying to get at.

So in summary, a good introduction to the topic if you're a fan of Holmes. If you're past the introductory stage though, best to look elsewhere. There really is a lot of noise and at the end of it the material covered is done more incisively in other popular works on the topic.
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115 of 142 people found the following review helpful By imfrom51 on January 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In the past few years, there has been a huge resurgence of all things Holmes. But Conan Doyles most famous character has been with us since 1887 and has never really left the public's imagination. In fact, The Guinness World Records has consistently listed Sherlock Holmes as the "most portrayed movie character with more than 70 actors playing the part in over 200 films. In Maria Konnilovas latest book, he (and of course, Watson) are now themselves investigated and used as prime examples on thinking, deduction, observation, and much more.

Marias book is a "great twist" on a popular subject that too, is very much in the public eye. How can we change ourselves, our thinking, and our surroundings for the better. Maria suggests that we spend much of our time in a Watson mode of thinking. Basically this means we are not really paying attention, and hence our thinking and then our actions are hasty and not thought out. The Holmes way is, well, as Sherlock thinks. Methodical, thought out, and evidence based. She uses many examples from the novels to explain and illustrate well documented problems with how we think, and how we can, perhaps, change for the better.

Mastermind is broken into 4 main areas: Understanding yourself. From observation to imagination. The art of deduction. The science and art of self knowledge. Each of these parts are the detailed into smaller chapters, which go into greater detail.

Having a background in the Holmes novels makes this a fantastic read. If you have never read one, this book would be a tough and uninteresting read, as Maria uses many examples from the stories to explain her thoughts. Without this knowledge, it would be hard to make head nor tail of what is going on.
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