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Have you ever wished you could solve life’s problems the way Sherlock Holmes solves mysteries? That’s the premise of Maria Konnikova’s new book, Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes. The Russian-born Konnikova writes the “Literally Psyched” column for Scientific American magazine while she pursues her PhD in psychology at Columbia. She’s also a big Sherlock Holmes fan — especially the recent BBC series.

“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic,” Holmes’ creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has him say in A Study in Scarlet. “And you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose.”

Weaving in a lot of Holmes’ adventures along the way, Konnikova takes that attic idea, adds in a review of modern research on human memory, and offers up a “method of mindful interaction with the world.”

You can sharpen your brain if you just do what old Sherlock did, Konnikova says. “We have to move from passive absorption to active awareness. We have to engage … not just sight, but each sense, each input, each thought.”

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