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Hands by Darian Leader

Hands by Darian Leader
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In this entertaining book, the psychoanalyst Darian Leader examines the many ways in which hands are central to our lives, said Lewis Jones in The Daily Telegraph. He points out that we’re a “species of fidgets”, and argues that while we invented tools to do many things, they’re often little more than a means to “keep our hands busy”. Examples of such “hand technologies” include gloves, fans, canes, handkerchiefs and pocket watches. Today, of course, they’ve been “superseded” by laptops, smartphones and tablets, on which we’re forever “clicking and swiping”. Although some of Leader’s arguments are a bit “tenuous”, he pursues them with such vigour that one “goes along for the ride”.

While this book has plenty of thought-provoking ideas, Leader’s determination to “think of everything in relation to hands” leads him to make some odd claims, said Julian Baggini in The Observer. For example, he asks why it is that almost every adventure film “has a scene in which one person holds another dangling by the hand”. Surely, though, this trope’s popularity has “nothing to do with the deep significance of hands”; try “gripping someone with your teeth or toes”. Leader’s determination to “leave common sense behind” is the source of both the book’s “joys” and its “frustrations”.