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Human history, modern life and our psychology - all told through the story of how we use our hands.

What do our hands say about us?

Our hands are always busy: stroking, pressing, prodding, swiping, tapping, fidgeting, gripping, scratching and rubbing. Even when at rest they refuse to be still. Though they are our most important tool for manipulating the world about us - you're using one or both of them to hold this book - they also send out subtle messages about who and what we really are.

Here, psychoanalyst Darian Leader examines the importance of our hands through a variety of examples from Hollywood movies to the Renaissance obsession with fans, from our craving for cigarettes to our addiction to smart phones. In so doing he uncovers the truth behind the ways we touch the world.


Clever, beguiling and confident

Sunday Times, Books of the Year

A breezy and diverting cultural history of fidgeting

The Times Literary Supplement

An intriguing meditation on how vital our hands are to our understanding of ourselves and our world

Sunday Times

Eloquent, thought-provoking . . . Leader conveys complex ideas with a light touch and sharp wit

New Statesman

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    September 18, 2017

    Penguin General UK

    128 pages

    RRP $22.99

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  • Hands
    Darian Leader



    June 2, 2016

    Penguin eBooks

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