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Customer Review

129 of 161 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be your own Holmes!, January 3, 2013
This review is from: Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes (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. Thankfully, what with the BBC's Sherlock, CBS Elementary and Granada's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, this preknowledge can be come by in a entertaining way.

For me, this is not a one time read. There is a LOT to take in and think about (which this book helps your deal with), and put into action! It's not a book to be taken sitting down. There is work to do, and to think like Holmes is no easy task. It takes effort, practice, and meditation, all of which Maria discusses in depth. There were a good many times, that, as I read, would stop after just one sentence and soak it in. Love it!

This is a well thought out, researched and organized book on unpacking our minds to clearer and deeper insights. At first glance, it would seem that Maria is taking a too light hearted approach. But that is not the case. Though the book rolls along at a smooth and easy pace, there is no indications that she takes the subject lightly. By using personal experiences, Holmes and Watson, and real world scientific studies, Maria melds all these into small manageable bites. For me, this worked very well. It's easy to go back and re-read parts that you didn't digest the first ( or second time) around.

So, for example, in explaining how to improve our observation skills, Maria first uses the incident of when Holmes and Watson first meet, and how he knows Watson has been living in Afghanistan. She then goes on to break his method down into 4 parts: Being Selective, Objective, Inclusive, and Engaged. Within each of these sub topics, more Holmes and Watson stories are told and dissected for our edification.

As Holmes says in his first adventure " There is nothing new under the sun. It has all been done before." And though this is true of MasterMind, that doesn't mean you can't benefit and learn something. Maria has taken the subject of improving our thinking skills and added a fresh, new angle. It's not only a great read, but has much that can be used, if time and practice are applied. Enjoy!
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 4, 2013 8:01:07 PM PST
rnh17 says:
This review reads like a promotion piece.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2013 4:27:15 PM PST
Jack Pepper says:
I definitely agree, it is a promotion piece for sure.

Posted on Jan 8, 2013 9:53:45 AM PST
I disagree. I think it's a good review that focuses on the content of the book. I found it helpful and will be buying the book on the strength of this review.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 8, 2013 5:08:12 PM PST
rnh17 says:
Seriously, Jeremy? I wonder why the review keeps referring to the author as "Maria" as if he/she knows her.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 8, 2013 7:02:11 PM PST
That she uses the author's first name does not mean that she knows the author. That's speculation on your part unless the reviewer confirms it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2013 11:12:01 AM PST
Mounthell says:
The reviewer, "imfrom51," posted his/her review on the date the book was released, suggesting anticipation, and using Konnikova's first name is further suggestive. But suggestive of what?

First, the "imfrom51" moniker tells us something of the reviewer's origins: either place [Puerto Rico (likely 51st state of the Union) or Nevada (Area 51 and lurid stories of extraterrestrials) or 51st Street, NYC (more lurid {lurider?} stories)] or time [star (ahem) date 1951].

Second, said review occasionally lapses into the effusive ("a fantastic read") but, on the other hand, Konnikova is indisputably a babe (clear grounds for prosecution, right there!).

Third, another reviewer, Josh Fong of _the Scientist_ (WARNING: article includes a photo of the priestess manipulating the reviewer, one which is guaranteed to pith the brain of any naive male unfortunate enough to chance upon it), appears to have been similarly taken in by this puppeteering vixen as suggested by his quoting her "I think you lead an impoverished life if you only read nonfiction" to which I can only reply that, thinking back, I have found that my life has, in fact, proven perfectly impoverished while reading fiction, at least until I finally got a job.
See article here:

If said guys have managed to pull themselves from that first gravitational abyss, she's also quoted as ordering each one of us to "deploy your attentional ability onto the present moment and ... be incredibly aware of what is going on around you" which is brazenly provocative under the circumstances of this evidence. I could go on, but I'm placing myself in a monastery.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 8:47:51 AM PST
rnh17 says:
Too bad we can't get Sherlock Holmes on the case.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 3:37:01 PM PST
Are you practicing the precepts in this book? Sometimes thinking like Sherlock Holmes, I have found through the school of hard knocks, is overthinking. Sometimes coincidences are not damning, as damning as they may seem. ;-)

Posted on Feb 12, 2013 11:22:35 AM PST
imfrom51 says:
Ok. First off the bat, this is not a promotional piece. I have never met Maria, though I did get an advance copy of the book (being a Holmes fan, I heard about the book and just asked for a copy). What is the big problem of using her name? That's now I call people. I guess this is a strange concept for some to understand. It's not like I write for the NY times. It was something I wanted to to, and I really enjoyed the book, that much.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 12, 2013 1:11:21 PM PST
rnh17 says:
I'll take you at your word. At any rate, authors understanably want to promote their books, and other people's opinions should only be a rough guide.
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