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This book is very hard for me to grade. It contains some of the best and worst material I have ever seen, all in the same book. That combination is unprecedented in my experience.
If the book were solely built around the exercises, I would say that it deserved more than five stars.
If the book were soley built around the analysis and history of Leonardo da Vinci as a thinker, I would grade it at two stars.
The exercises are so terrific that I urge you to read the book. I also urge you to see the text leading up to the exercises as merely an introduction to the excercises.
If you want to learn about Leonardo da Vinci as a thinker, I suggest you go elsewhere for that guidance. I do encourage you read the Leonardo notebooks directly. They are fascinating. While you are doing so, try to imagine yourself with the limited scientific knowledge of the day. One of the things that you will learn is the power of conceptualizing what is needed that is missing. This helps to set the goal that energizes those who then meet the goal. Leonardo had enormous influence in this way with his pioneering work on helicopters, submarines, parachutes, and many mechanical devices.
Research on creativity and innovation has shown that it is valuable to increase one's curiosity, testing of ideas, observation skills, openness to new ideas and ambiguity, whole-brained thinking, balance in life activities, and seeing systems connections. This book espouses those concepts as well. In fact, it felt to me like the author was more influenced by the creativity and innovation literature than by Leonardo. If the book had drawn on more of this kind of research, rather than just trying to oversimpify Leonardo da Vinci, it would have been a better book.
As I read the book, I did at least one exercise in each section. I found these exercises to be very well constructed and that I derived great personal value from the experiences they gave me. I think you will feel the same way, if you are like me and want to improve your ability to see, hear, feel and grasp.
The only totally inappropriate exercise I encountered was one that encouraged you to write backwards like Leonardo did. You should know that I am probably biased on this, for this habit of Leonardo's is primarily responsible for a miscommunication of his work that delayed the pursuit of many of his best ideas by others. Civilization is the poorer, as a result.
The book also has a lot of self-assessments to help you understand what you need to work on. I found these to be below-par in value.
The worst part of the book were the very poor reproductions of paintings by Leonardo. The Last Supper can barely be discerned. If images cannot be better reproduced than this, they should be left out of the book.
After you have thought about reading this book or actually do so, I suggest that you also question as to whether or not your goal should be to think more like Leonardo da Vinci. True, he was a great genius. But he had his drawbacks. Most of his ideas did not see fruition in his own lifetime. He also spent most of his time either entertaining noble patrons with songs and stories or with creating war machines. What legacy would you like to leave? A legacy can be shaped by your thoughts. What thoughts will expand your legacy. Mother Teresa did not have to think like Leonardo to leave a great legacy.
How can you think like yourself in better ways?
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One of those books which you start reading, and then wish you were somewhere you could experiment..It brings you ideas on how to expand your creative thinking, ways to experience new sensations in food, art, and life, and all with some fascinating facts about one of the worlds most famous inventors (and artists of course). Did you know that he was the first inventor of the helicopter? He spent his life asking questions (one of his techniques for mind expansion), and Michael Gelb captures the essence of the man and his mind in this easy to read and understand book. If you want an unusual gift for a special friend (you can experiment together), I guarantee you and they will not be disappointed.
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on 26 December 1999
A book that deserves a special place in our journey in discovering and living our potential. Great on facts, extremely well leaves the readers with a feeling that creativity is a birthright...and that being so is a matter of us living life in a certain way...which the book details. The exercises at the end, esp for a beginner learning to draw, are also unique.
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on 12 October 2002
I can never resist buying self-help books, but I'm usually disappointed with the results. In other words, after reading several self-help books I'm still the same mundane person I always was. However, "How to think like Leonardo da Vinci" really has made a difference in my life. It has opened my eyes to a whole new exciting world of music, nature, art....I could go and on.
Written in a friendly, easily accessible style, which is never patronizing, "How to think like LDV" will have you really listening to music; juggling in the morning; devising your own motto and just getting more fun out of life in no time.
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on 28 August 2003
Michael Gelb gets you to challenge your way of thinking and open your mind to bringing creativity into every aspect of your life. Exciting and exploritory exercises move your forward into using parts of the brain you didn't even know you had. An absolute MUST for anyone serious about living more creatively.
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on 18 September 2011
there is no denying that da vinci was anabsolute genius and light years ahead of his time. his curiousity for everything allowed him to expand his own mind. this is a good book for self development and if you follow the exercises you will be able to implement the skills into your daily routines etc. the only real fault i have with this book is that he author sometmes goes off on one regarding how much of a 'special' person da vinci was - "he could bend horseshoes with his bare hands" - apart from that gripe i do reccomend this book...
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on 3 April 2014
This is a very readable book by a life coach with a clarity of thought that is very rare. Gelb's writing is engaging and fun to read. I think this book can change lives for any open minded 21st century reader. If you want to be a more informed and effective renaissance man or woman, buy this book.
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on 3 July 2013
As M. Gelb preconises, I read the book all the way through before starting the exercises. I was truly enchanted and cannot wait to complete them all.

- The part on Leonardo's life seems to focus more on facts rather than the way he thought
- If you have read other books on Leonardo DaVinci, you will know he was a procastinator. When I got the book I thought there might be some anti-procrastination advice, but that was not the case
- The book is illustrated by great artwork, but unfortunately the print quality is very poor and they are all in black and white. When reading the description on how the skin of a child was painted to ressemble that of an angel, I googled the name of the painting to see it for myself rather than use the book.

- The principles are truly original and are not a rehashing of other self-help books
- The exercises are really excellent with great suggestions, based on Leonardo DaVinci's notes
- The quotes from Leonardo are very relevant and, amongst other things, show he felt remorse over building tools of war and that he was a vegeterian. I particularly enjoyed the way he described his theory behind a blue sky, so scientific and poetic at the same time...
- The book is very well written and structured, a very easy read, and one can tell that the author did his research.
- There is an extensive section on further reading by theme at the end of the book.
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on 2 February 2013
As an aspiring polymath, and someone who loves learning for the sake of it, I'm always curious to read about people who have achieved the polymath status. Leonardo Da Vinci defines it. I came across this book by pure accident, reading about it somewhere, and the title was intriguing enough that I had to look it up.

This book inspired me from page 1, and though I couldn't wait to "learn it all" by reading through, I slowed down enough to do all the self-assessment exercises as I went along. There is still plenty of work to be done, but that's the point. This book acts as a beginning (if you have not yet done anything about your self-education), or as a guide in your journey.

It's simply written, easy to read. You get a glimpse of Leonardo Da Vinci's life, and how he became an expert in so many things, and the book uses his methods to inspire us to do the same.

This is done by breaking down Da Vinci's methods in 7, easy to understand principles. They make perfect sense, and when you read it, a lot of it seems like common sense. But common sense that most of us don't apply and probably don't even think about.

This is not a dummy's guide to becoming like Da Vinci. This is an idea-rich book, with practical steps of how you can learn to think like Da Vinci, how you can expand your mind, attempt to read your potential - but you have to put in the work.

If you read it, you will get fantastic ideas. But if you start applying what it says, you will get amazing results.
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on 19 February 2016
Book is in excellent condition, fits the "like new" description.

Just read the first 15 pages. The 7 principles already blew my mind in terms of both appreciating the genius of Da Vinci and giving my best attempt to integrate and apply them into my daily life!
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