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James Bannerman, Genius: Deceptively simple ways to become instantly smarter
on 9 July 2012
Deceptively simple indeed, Bannerman's little book seems at first to have pre-digested smart thinking for us, and simply spoons an endless supply of bite size ideas into a grateful and increasingly open mouth. But the end result is not only less simple (the mind has been given a really demanding work-out) but genuinely creative. Bannerman's manner is easy, amusing, charmingly self-aware and he has the gift of encapsulating ideas in a very few words and, delightfully, in scores of clever mini-cartoons. He starts out giving a guided tour of a highly concentrated (but persuasively organised) storehouse of examples of brilliant, innovative ideas which have impacted, directly or indirectly, on our everyday life. Halfway through, however, his book suddenly morphs into a manual of creative thinking in business. This comes as a bit of a surprise, since a would-be purchaser is nowhere encouraged to understand that this is the kind of book on offer. However, while the reader who might be looking for such a book may therefore miss it, the general reader like myself loses no interest in the argument that occupies that second half. Indeed, over the book as a whole, Bannerman succeeds in providing much more than interest and amusement. His seemingly endless supply of lateral thoughts has the cumulative effect of generating the belief that I can solve most problems old and new if I only adjust my mindset to tackle them in a creative way. Bannerman doles out smart advice like confetti, and, while his generosity doesn't extend to giving the book away for free (he works pro de Bono more than pro bono), I am extremely grateful to him for his ideas, and intend to make free with them.