Reading list: 'How to Think Like Einstein'

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Author Scott Thorpe reveals processes to clearer thinking.

Right in front of your nose.

That's where you usually find the solution to sticky problems-always right there, where you weren't necessarily looking. This time, though, there's no easy answer, no matter how much you ponder and pick. But if you read the new bookHow to Think Like Einstein by Scott Thorpe, you could become a genius at things like this.

Ever since revealing his theory of relativity in 1905, Albert Einstein's held a special place in science, history, and culture. E = mc2 and Einstein = genius.

That was true in the early years of Einstein's career. Fresh out of university, he was alight with "truly revolutionary thinking" but, alas, the fire waned as he got older. "He was still brilliant," says Thorpe, but Einstein didn't do the kind of work he did when he was a lad. Thorpe blames Einstein's growing knowledge and his decreasing willingness to break the rules.

And that, Thorpe says, is what made Einstein so darn smart. He was happy to ignore conventional wisdom. Though we are trained to heed rules in life and in work, breaking them, he claims, is the "universal principle" for thinking like a genius.

Wrestling with the unsolvable starts with writing the problem as a statement that "focuses your mind." Identify why you want the problem solved and what you've already tried to do. What are the rules that might govern this issue?

Once you've identified the problem, create a better one by resizing the conundrum, making it simpler, and changing your attitude towards it.

Sometimes, it's too easy to get too close to a problem, which makes it impossible to get past the issue.How to Think Like Einstein might help.

However, I thought it odd that Thorpe puts the gist of his entire book on the bottom of the very first page: "you've got to break the rules." You know everything you need to know right there; what follows is just enhancement of those six words. It also struck me that problem-solving often doesn't have the luxury of time, of which Thorpe's process demands a fair amount.

Though readers receive a nicely-varied wealth of interesting anecdotes, they were more entertaining than helpful in the immediate raison d'être of this book.

Indeed, the solutions you'll find inHow to Think Like Einstein are not as plain as the nose on your face.

How to Think Like Einstein

Scott Thorpe, Sourcebooks

$16.99, 272 pages