Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

Despite the fact that Einstein is in the title, the book isn't actually about Einstein. It's about memory and how even an average person can train himself to be the US memory champion.

Joshua Foer is an online journalist, and after attending a few memory training competitions as a reporter, he decided to undergo a year of memory training in order to try his luck at the US Memory Champion. He uses his journey as an exploration about how memory works.

And it turns out, you can have an average memory and still become a US memory champion. Memorisation can be improved with tricks that make use of spatial memory and such.

What I found interesting were all the historical parts. Like how memory was "invented" by the Simonides of Ceos, who, after narrowly escaping being killed by a falling building, found that he could remember exactly where all his companions were sitting and invented the memory palace technique.

I didn't actually read this book to learn about how to improve my memory, and what I found is that the memory "tricks" are stuff that I have read before (Tony Buzan, for instance). That just means that there's no great "secret", if you use your memory (and those tricks), you will improve your memory.

Read this book if you're interested in how one guy made it a quest to improve his memory. It's not so much as a guide book on how "you too, can do it", but it's more of a journey that the author is sharing with you.

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