Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Moonwalking with Einstein- Joshua Foer

The first time I heard about this book, I was pretty interested in learning about memory strengthening and 'the art of remembering everything'. About an hour after seeing the title, however, I promptly forgot about it until I saw it again on a subway train in NYC and wrote it down so I wouldn't forget again.

This is a pretty interesting book, delving into the history of the 'memory palace', and explaining all the tips and tricks used by the world's foremost memory champions in their efforts to memorize random words, digits, and even the orders of shuffled decks of cards! While the epilogue does mention that these memory tricks might not be the most useful in everyday life, it's still a great read, and a good way to get you thinking about your own memory, and what you could be doing to start using it again instead of relying on external memory and stimuli.

At first glance, I truly thought this was going to be a boring book, hidden in a fun-looking and sounding cover. I mean, who wouldn't want to moonwalk with Einstein?! That would be too good to pass up! Once I got into the book, I realized that it was actually very interesting, combining one man's dedication to journalism, and his search for improving his memory, with the history and art of memory beginning with Simonides, alleged creator of the "Memory Palace" and of the art of memory in general. Foer accents stories regarding his year's training for the US Memory Championship with little tidbits and philosophies about memory that were collected throughout the centuries, and it makes for an educational, but fascinating, summer reading. It's quite sad to think about how I won't be able to memorize a deck of cards in under a minute, or be able to remember the names and faces of everyone I met at a party. It was, however, very eye-opening to realize just how much I've neglected my own internal memory in favor of external memories, like a calendar, GPS, cell phone... I can recall just a handful of phone numbers and addresses, and after reading Moonwalking with Einstein, I'll be trying my hardest to remember things like that a little bit better without using other devices, and I recommend that you all do the same.. For example, Jenny's number is 867-5309. Now, get cracking on memorizing your friends' phone numbers!

- Justin