Review: Mastermind by Maria Konnikova

Maria Konnikova
Title: Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes
Published: 2013 by Canongate Books Ltd.
Pages: 259
Genre: Non-Fiction
My rating: 4/5

Goodreads Blurb!
No fictional character is more renowned for his powers of thought and observation than Sherlock Holmes. But is his extraordinary intellect merely a gift of fiction, or can we learn to cultivate these abilities ourselves, to improve our lives at work and at home?

We can, says psychologist and journalist Maria Konnikova, and inMastermind she shows us how. Beginning with the “brain attic”—Holmes’s metaphor for how we store information and organize knowledge—Konnikova unpacks the mental strategies that lead to clearer thinking and deeper insights. Drawing on twenty-first-century neuroscience and psychology, Mastermind explores Holmes’s unique methods of ever-present mindfulness, astute observation, and logical deduction. In doing so, it shows how each of us, with some self-awareness and a little practice, can employ these same methods to sharpen our perceptions, solve difficult problems, and enhance our creative powers. For Holmes aficionados and casual readers alike, Konnikova reveals how the world’s most keen-eyed detective can serve as an unparalleled guide to upgrading the mind.

My Thoughts!
Mastermind is a useful book. Oozing with optimism and smartness. If you're already quite smart, this book would make you feel awesome. Plus, you'd even know where your smartness comes from, while learning jargon-ic words. And if you've been struggling with those very things they give Holmes-ian solutions to, you'd feel like you're on the path to mind-improvement!

The book's divided into four parts, beginning with an understanding of oneself, our brain and capacities and abilities. What we want, where we want to reach, how do we look at things, what is our approach? The next section focuses on the power of observation and imagination, what it is to be mindful and how it helps, techniques for observation and value of creativity. The third section talks about the art of deduction, understanding meanings from what information is available, education and self. The final part deals with the science and art of self-knowledge. Jeez. This seems like such a ramble of jargon.

But the book isn't that way! It's based around all these concepts as Sherlock Holmes, the famed fictional detective used them. According to the book, 'the detective who elevated the art to a precise science'. He's a legend in the field of detection and mysteries, solving crimes in a way that people find impossible. The book takes his perspective into account and supplements the theory with cases and examples from his mysteries. This makes the book a lot more interesting than how it'd have otherwise been. It states the differences between Holmesian thinking and Watsonian thinking, and how we could shed the latter for the former. 

I definitely underlined a lot many paragraphs from this book, primarily because I felt that to know the gist of the whole book, one could simply read those paras and be done with it. The only thing I felt somewhat lacking was that it seems repetitive, in the sense that it goes into great detail for each concept. Probably that wasn't necessary. That was what sometimes made me not pick up the book even after long breaks. But yes, once in the flow, you get into the rhythm and enjoy reading about how one can be a better observer, deduce from what information is available, using imagination and creativity! *_* 

I'd include some lines from the book that made me learn quite a bit. 

'You think; you judge; and you don't think twice about what you've just done.' 

'Happy mood = wider sight, bad mood = limited sight'

'Motivation matters. Individuals who are motivated correct more naturally, and more correctly.' 

Then there was this concept that suited so well with my situation while I was reading this book: 'Need for Closure: a desire of the mind to come to some definitive knowledge of an issue.' Our minds don't rest until they're clear about the issue.

The book also talks about how even though we thrive on the idea of creativity and imagination, we value creativity only on the surface and imagination can scare us like crazy. "As a general rule, we dislike uncertainty. It makes us uneasy. A certain world is a much friendlier place. And so we work hard to reduce whatever uncertainty we can, often by making habitual, practical choices, which protect the status quo."

There's also discussion on habit, self-confidence, uniqueness, adaptability and beliefs. All relating to Holmesian thinking. I found the book quite innovative and unique in this aspect. It discusses the psychology of mind with examples from a fabulous fictional character, and hence the book seems like such an easy read! It isn't hard to decipher, there's enough explanation for the novice to understand. I found some tips and concepts quite useful and they come up when something related to them happens in reality. Coolness, actually. 8| 


  1. Oh boy, how am I gonna not read this book. Maybe i'll just ask you for it and read the underlined pages and paragraphs and be content with it. Maybe i'll try to read it full but eventually fall on the underlined paras option. No matter what the path, I am gonna read this book.
    Reason: I already try to think like Holmes in awful lot of situations and think of myself as some smart-minded detective :P

    This book is going to be read. Yo! B)

    1. Hehe! :D You think you're like a smart detective? ;) You could use these to work up on your awesome skills :P

      Hope you enjoy the book! :D Yo yo :P


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