Image courtesy HarperCollins

What if how you think about skydiving is just as important to your progress in the sport as what you think as you repetitively train for a certain jump?

What if you could add tools to your cognitive toolkit that will not only meaningfully improve your approach to skydiving, but also your approach to – and satisfaction in – your life off the dropzone, as well?

Every year for more than a decade, the thinkers-of-all-stripes-and-flavours that comprise the Edge collective have been asked to respond to a single annual question. These questions are different each year, and are designed to bring collective light to some important aspect of how we understand ourselves and the world around us.

The Edge presented a particularly utilitarian question-of-the-year in 2011: what scientific concept will improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit? This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking is the result of all the collected answers and, even though it was published more than a decade ago, remains as evergreen an offering as ever.

This Will Make You Smarter is, for one, aggressively useful. It shares the “thinking tools” that more than 150 of the world’s most influential scientists, authors and thought architects most ardently want the world to wield. The whole caboodle is wrapped up in a burly anthology of short – sometimes, downright bite-sized – essays, treating subjects as diverse as the power of networks, cognitive humility, the paradoxes of daydreaming, information flow, collective intelligence, and a miles-wide range in between.

There is, however, a theme. Most of the essays that comprise this book are about metacognition: in essence, thinking about how we think. That means that there’s something in this book for every proud owner of a brain, and it follows that there is a lot of useful and actionable material collected here. Happily, the anthology is constructed in a way that’s easy to set down and pick up again when the inspiration strikes.

It is also – as a book should be – occasionally discombobulatingly beautiful. “Amid all the charms to follow,” riffs anthology editor John Brockman, in a way that feels as if it’s being delivered directly to us skydiver-types, “that mixture of humility and daring is the most unusual and important.”

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