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Use Google to ‘Talk’ to Books

Photo: Pixabay

If you’ve ever wanted to have a deeper conversation with the printed page—or scan a library of literature for answers to your many questions—Google’s Talk to Books tool is a fun little way to do just that. It’s not a Google search for books, but it does offer more conversational answers for your questions than a traditional search.

For example, if you pull up Talk to Books and try out any of its many pre-generated queries, like “Who are the smartest characters in Harry Potter,” you won’t get a list of books that you could use to find an answer to your question. Instead, you’ll get the actual passages from books that are most likely to provide a natural response to your question.

Screenshot: David Murphy

In this case, here’s Google’s top response for its Harry Potter query: “It is Lupin who acknowledges Hermione’s intelligence during the scene in the Shrieking Shack in which both Lupin’s and Sirius Black’s identities come fully to light: ‘You’re the cleverest witch of your age I have ever met.’”

While that answer doesn’t necessarily give you a roundup of the “smartest” characters, you can piece together a decent list from the rest of Google’s (bolded) answers:

  • “Harry is recognized as a magical prodigy”
  • “Among the adults, Professor McGonagall seems to mirror Hermione as a smart female of clearly secondary status.”
  • “Dumbledore is still looked upon as the ‘all- knowing’ leader, and many times Professor McGonagall still asks Dumbledore for validation, even though she is still highly intelligent and shows it often throughout the novels.”
  • “We see bravery in Hagrid and Hermione’s kindness, and in Hermione’s willingness to stand

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