First thoughts

How Is The Internet Changing The Way You Think?

Edited by John Brockman

Atlantic Books,

£19.99, Kindle £5.73

Review: Nilima Dey Sarker

“The internet has supplied me with an answer to a question that has exercised me interminably: When I reach Heaven (surely!), how can I possibly spend infinite time without incurring infinite boredom?” asks cognitive neuroscientist Marcel Kinsbourne in his essay A Gift To Conspirators And Terrorists Everywhere.

“Well,” he then answers, “As long as they provide an internet connection, I now see that I can.”

How Is The Internet Changing The Way You Think? is a collection of essays from 154 intellectuals from different walks of life.

Leading thinkers such as Marcel Kinsbourne, Brian Eno, Matt Ridley, Martin Rees, Douglas Coupland reflect on how the internet has changed our modes of thinking and shaped our minds. founder John Brockman has complied a potpourri of philosophical reflections on the influences of the internet.

Standout pieces include Brian Eno’s What I Notice and Eric Drexler’s The Web Helps Us See What Isn’t There. Food for thought!

Under The Hawthorn Tree

Ai Mi Virago;


Review: Natalie Bowen

This translation of a hit online blog, written by an anonymous Chinese author now living in America, is a simple, classic love story of two young people divided by class differences.

It is set during China’s Cultural Revolution of 1966 to 1976, when city worker Jingqiu is sent to the country to interview peasants.

There she meets Sun Jianxin, a military official’s son, and despite her obedient nature she becomes agonised by an innocent love in a politically distrustful, paranoid society.

The novel’s depiction of life under communism is its strength, peopled by fascinating characters and conflicting attitudes, not unlike a Jane Austen tale.

Despite Jingqiu’s startlingly naivety, her plight is heart-wrenching and admirable.

But while the writing is engaging, at times its levels of angst are worthy of the Twilight series.

Lone Wolf

Jodi Picoult Hodder & Stoughton;


Review: Ben Major

Jodi Picoult, author of My Sister’s Keeper, which was adapted into a 2009 film, returns with Lone Wolf.

An estranged family face the toughest decision of their lives when father Luke is involved in a car accident that leaves him in a coma, and brother and sister, Edward and Cara, in disagreement about whether to turn off his life support.

With each sibling trying to do the right thing, and Luke’s ex-wife playing peacekeeper, the novel deftly exposes the moral dilemmas facing them, and ultimately, who has the right to decide whether somebody should die.

Picoult has again created a heart-wrenching situation for a cast of troubled characters, who take an emotional journey into the controversial world of assisted dying.

A solid work, especially for fans of the writer.

The Stag And Hen Weekend

Mike Gayle Hodder & Stoughton;


Review: Debbie Murray

In keeping with his recurring theme of relationships, Mike Gayle’s 10th book follows an engaged pair on the verge of getting married. But in a novel twist, the tales of the characters’ respective hen and stag weekends are told separately, doubling the anticipation of a new Gayle offering.

It really is like two books for the price of one and requires the reader to flip the book around to read each story. And because the stories include common characters, the reader can enjoy either tale first.

The stories spill the beans on the hen and stag nights of Helen and Phil. The weekends start off well for both sides but nothing goes to plan, with events conspiring to test the couple’s love for each other. And cleverly, the ending of neither the hen nor the stag story ruins the ending of the other. A must for Gayle fans.

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