Written by Ian Leslie
Publication Date July 25, 2014
The latest from Ian Leslie, the author of Born Liars, a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book, is a fascinating look at the human characteristic of curiosity — our extraordinary capacity to take pleasure in discovering, learning, and understanding.
Curious shows how the practice of “deep curiosity” — persistent, self-reflective seeking of knowledge and insight — is key to the success of our careers, the happiness of our children, the strength of our relationships, and the progress of societies. But it also argues that it is a fragile quality, which wanes and waxes over time, and that we take it for granted at our peril. Ian Leslie proposes that the Internet is opening up a “curiosity gap,” by exacerbating the divide between those with a large cognitive appetite, and those happy knowing no more than they have to know; between the curious and the incurious. He draws on many sources and stories to illustrate his points: Benjamin Franklin at Portsmouth Harbour studying the effect of oil on choppy waters; a bored Galileo distracting himself in a Pisa cathedral by observing the swinging of a recently lit lamp; Leonardo da Vinci doodling ideas in his notebook; Google co-founder Larry Page’s thoughts on the perfect search engine; the invention of the microwave oven; the advantages of your local bookseller over Amazon’s algorithms; a reassessment of Donald Rumsfeld’s defense strategy, and many more.
Rich, textured, and exciting, Curious is a new take on the most absorbing human trait of all.
Ian Leslie is the critically acclaimed author of Born Liars: Why We Can’t Live Without Deceit, which was a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book. He has written about politics, culture, marketing, and psychology for the Guardian, The Times, Prospect, and the BBC. He lives in London, England.
"Curiosity — that elusive, mysterious state — seems always to slide away when writers attempt to dissect it. Ian Leslie not only offers a compelling analysis of how curiosity works, he tells us how to prompt it in our children our employees, and ourselves. Both fascinating and eminently practical, Curious is a book to be relished." Daniel Willingham, author of Why Don’t Students Like School
"Ian Leslie argues that true curiosity is in decline. This book is a beautiful and fascinating tribute to one of mankind's most important virtues." Tyler Cowen, professor of economics at George Mason University
"I would never have guessed that so slim a volume could so richly pique my curiosity about curiosity. Stuffed with facts, ideas, questions, quotes, musings, findings, puzzles, mysteries, and stories, this is a book, as Montaigne said of travel, with which to 'rub and polish' one’s brain. It's the most delightful thing I’ve read about the mind in quite some time." David Dobbs, author of My Mother's Lover
"With this enthralling manifesto on the power of curiosity, Ian Leslie has written a book that displays all the key characteristics of its subject matter: an inquisitive, open-minded, and ultimately deeply rewarding exploration of the human mind's appetite for new ideas." Steven Johnson, author of Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age