Nutting Memorial Library

Desire to Learn

What is the one book on the Commandant’s recommended reading list that everyone should read?

Ian Leslie’s Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It examines the origins and powerful potential of the human drive to understand the world around us. All too often, Leslie points out, we fail to indulge the impulse to be curious: we are too busy, or too afraid of revealing our ignorance, or we don’t know what questions to ask. Curious makes an excellent case for the value of overcoming those barriers and exploring the unknown.

“Curiosity,” Leslie argues, “is a life force.” Pursuing life’s “whys” is a part of who we are: our brains, he explains, are naturally wired to take pleasure in learning. And rather than being a distraction, our pursuit of understanding is an essential part of what makes us human, and a driving force behind our success as a species.

Technology has put an unimaginable amount of information within easy reach, but simply looking up facts cannot provide meaningful intellectual satisfaction. Real curiosity is more than that: it allows us to build connections between ideas and move from mere knowledge to the kind of world-shaping discoveries and innovations that we admire in the work of everyone from Benjamin Franklin to Steve Jobs.

Leslie argues that curiosity is not an inherent trait that some people have more of than others, so much as a deliberate approach to the world around us. “We can arrange our lives to stoke our curiosity or quash it,” he observes. Curious provides readers with practical advice for how to harness the power of open-minded inquiry in their lives.

—By LAUREN GARGANI, HEAD LIBRARIAN

Photo: BILLY R. SIMS

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