Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes

January 8, 2013 Uncategorized 13

Title: Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes
Author: Maria Konnikova
Source: from publisher for review
Rating: ★★★★☆
Fun Fact: Motivation can improve IQ test results and memory formation.
Review Summary: Not the most useful as a self-help book, but a fun and inspiring way to learn about psychology.

Can you learn to think like Sherlock Holmes? Drawing on both anecdotes from Holmes stories and exciting studies in psychology, author Maria Konnikova suggests ways in which you can. She’s clearly familiar with and enthusiastic about both her topics – Homes and the psychology behind his way of thinking – and she does a great job making you feel her enthusiasm too. As someone who understands loving a good book, she had me from her description of her first experience with Holmes. She also integrated real-world, relatable examples with her Holmes/Conan Doyle anecdotes and the psychology studies in a way that constantly piqued my interest.

The book mostly flowed very well and I always enjoyed reading it. However, the book sometimes got a little wordy, particularly where there were long descriptions of a list of items. To help me always see where the author was going with her descriptions, a road map in the intro would have been useful. A summary of her most important pieces of advice would also have made the book more usable. Despite occasional problems figuring out how each piece fit together, I do feel like I came away from this book with some valuable advice, particularly the author’s emphasis on mindfulness. As the author acknowledges, mindfulness is a pretty common theme in self-help these days, but the way she presents it is unusually fun and appealing.

In fact, while this isn’t the most usable as a self-help book, it’s exciting and enjoyable in a different way. The author does a spectacular job explaining psychology concepts in clear way and her real world examples make me want to take action on her suggestions even though they aren’t spelled out in a self-help sort of way. And any bibliophile will appreciate her love of Holmes and the excitement of possibly being able to replicate his way of thinking. What I mostly took away from the book was the need to be more mindful, particularly of your own thought-process, plus a new appreciation for Sherlock Holmes. So, of course, I would highly recommend this to any Sherlock Holmes fans. But I would also recommend it to any one who wants to be more aware of the world around them and to any one who needs to make logical decisions at work, especially other scientists.

Other reviews: Sophisticated Dorkiness

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13 Responses to “Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes”

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks Alice! I really enjoyed all the Holmes references in the book and the author also conveniently included references for all her citations in case you want to go read more of a particular story 🙂

  1. Dorothee Lang

    this sounds interesting! thanks for sharing. it also makes me remember my first Sherlock Holmes stories 🙂 have an awesome reading week! ~ Dorothee (my book notes are here: bookshelf )

    • DoingDewey

      I really enjoyed her description of here first experience with Holmes, although I’m not sure I actually remember mine – maybe some books on tape when I was pretty little. I hope you have a great week too!

  2. Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)

    Good review! I think we picked up on similar things — the book was sort of between self-help and more “straight” nonfiction, and so it didn’t quite do either to the fullest extent. But the literary references were a lot of fun to read, and helped make the book enjoyable for me.

  3. Jen G. (The Introverted Reader)

    I don’t think I have it in me to think like Holmes, but it would probably do me good to at least try!

    • DoingDewey

      Haha, no, me either! But it has helped me focus on being more mindful throughout my day, especially during my morning drive into work and while doing lab work, which I think makes me happier 🙂

  1. And the first week post-launch concludes! | Maria Konnikova

    […] MASTERMIND also received this wonderful recommendation from Maria Popova’s Brain Picking and a mention in the February issue of Vanity Fair, in the “In Short” section, and was included in The Stylist‘s list of soon-to-be-cult books of 2013, Barnes & Noble’s NOOK Books for a Fresh Start for 2013, and Poets & Writers anticipated books of 2013. The book was also featured on GigaOm, including a series of video interviews that I had with Om Malik this December in San Francisco, and was reviewed by the Sherlockian blogs Better Holmes and Gardens and the Well-Read Sherlockian and the science blog Doing Dewey. […]