Curious Minds

Curious Minds

The Power of Connection

By Perry Zurn and Dani S. Bassett

An exhilarating, genre-bending exploration of curiosity's powerful capacity to connect ideas and people.





An exhilarating, genre-bending exploration of curiosity's powerful capacity to connect ideas and people.

Curious about something? Google it. Look at it. Ask a question. But is curiosity simply information seeking? According to this exhilarating, genre-bending book, what's left out of the conventional understanding of curiosity are the wandering tracks, the weaving concepts, the knitting of ideas, and the thatching of knowledge systems—the networks, the relations between ideas and between people. Curiosity, say Perry Zurn and Dani Bassett, is a practice of connection: it connects ideas into networks of knowledge, and it connects knowers themselves, both to the knowledge they seek and to each other.

Zurn and Bassett—identical twins who write that their book “represents the thought of one mind and two bodies”—harness their respective expertise in the humanities and the sciences to get irrepressibly curious about curiosity. Traipsing across literatures of antiquity and medieval science, Victorian poetry and nature essays, as well as work by writers from a variety of marginalized communities, they trace a multitudinous curiosity. They identify three styles of curiosity—the busybody, who collects stories, creating loose knowledge networks; the hunter, who hunts down secrets or discoveries, creating tight networks; and the dancer, who takes leaps of creative imagination, creating loopy ones. Investigating what happens in a curious brain, they offer an accessible account of the network neuroscience of curiosity. And they sketch out a new kind of curiosity-centric and inclusive education that embraces everyone's curiosity. The book performs the very curiosity that it describes, inviting readers to participate—to be curious with the book and not simply about it.

Pre-Order Hardcover

$27.95 T ISBN: 9780262047036 312 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 29 b&w illus.


  • "Zurn and Bassett changed my mind about what curiosity is at its essence. I am now convinced that curiosity is more than wanting to know—it is wanting to connect. This bold new theory for curiosity has enormous implications for building a more curious, creative, and equitable society."

    Angela Duckworth

    Founder and CEO, Character Lab, Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang Professor, University of Pennsylvania

  • "Curious Minds not only opens up a stunning new landscape for the study of innovation and creativity, but also provides fresh, practical insights into the kernel of inquisitiveness in each of us."

    Scott Barry Kaufman

    host of The Psychology Podcast and author of Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization

  • "Here is a story of the small network connecting siblings, with its intimate possibilities, expanding into the network of ideas connecting the world, with its infinite possibilities. Herein science, philosophy, and art assert their equality in a matrix of the mysterious."

    David C Krakauer

    resident and William H. Miller Professor of Complex Systems, Santa Fe Institute, and John W. Krakauer, John C. Malone Professor, Professor of Neurology & Neuroscience, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

  • "A brilliantly original exploration of curiosity. Reading this ambitious and joyful book is a marvelous experience in expanding the mind and the heart—in connecting all the dots to envision a better world."

    Barbara M. Benedict

    Charles A. Dana Professor of English, Trinity College, author of Curiosity: A Cultural History of Early-Modern Inquiry