I must admit that I have not been reading as much as I would like to even though it’s a favorite pastime of mine. I’m slowly starting to get back into it and just finished the book “Moonwalking with Einstein” by Joshua Foer.
This book is about the author’s interest in, and then journey into, the memory champion circuit. As a journalist, Foer attended and covered memory championships where he caught the memorization bug. He wanted to see if he could become a memory champion (or mental athlete) and compete against some of the world’s best in the field. He decided that he would train, using the techniques of the current and past greats, and compete in the next USA Memory Championship.
In addition to telling readers about his year-long training and conversations with his mentor, Ed Cooke, Foer also researches and discusses the art of memory, its roots and why it has become a thing of the past with advances in technology as well as the advent of ink and paper. On his journey, he also interviews famous mnemonists and savants that have made their names by their unique abilities to memorize (including Kim Peek, who was the inspiration for Dustin Hoffman’s character Raymond Babbitt in 1988’s Rain Man).
While Foer does not go into the specific details of the techniques to actually teach you how to start becoming a mnemonist, he does touch on them enough to get you interested in the subject and the logic behind it. The most interesting part of the book to me was the question of “is it worth it to become a better memorizer when we now have everything to do it for us?”. I think this is a question everyone needs to answer on their own, but I definitely agreed with his answer and rationale. Since I don’t want to spoil anything, I’m not going to tell you what that was (or how he did in the USA Memory Championship). You’ll have to read the book, which you’re more than welcome to borrow from me.
Overall, as someone who is curious about lots of things, I definitely liked this book and it was a quick and easy read. I would say that the subhead of “The Art and Science of Remembering Everything” is misleading as this is not a book to teach you how to do it, so keep that in mind. But it’s still interesting and worth the read.
Author: Joshua Foer
Date Published: 2011
Total Pages: 271
Favorite line: “Remember not to forget.”
Do you have any book recommendations? I’m always looking for books to add to my “To-Read” list.