Memories are priceless. They make us who we are today and drive us forward. Now that I’m getting older, I’ve noticed my short term memory isn’t as sharp anymore. I’m also often sleep deprived, which has really taken a toll on me. But what’s great is that it is possible to strengthen our memory like a muscle. I read a fascinating book about it and want to share my thoughts on it in this Moonwalking With Einstein review.
One thing that scares me about getting older is the fear of losing my memory and losing track of time. My grandmother suffered from dementia for many years before she passed and it was heartbreaking. Even though it’s usually not inherited, when someone close to you suffers from dementia it’s hard not to think, “…that could be me someday.”
Chained To My Digital To-Do List
For the past few years, if I don’t write down an idea or a to-do list task right when the thought pop ups in my head, chances are high I will completely forget what I wanted to remember just a few minutes later. It’s frustrating to blank out and not be able recall things. I’ve become entirely dependent on using Notes and iCalendar on my iPhone to keep track of to-dos’, so if I ever lose those files and don’t have a recent backup, I’m totally screwed!
My reliance on technology to remember things is annoying and worrying. At least a few times a week I walk from one room to another and forget why unless I walk back where I came from and stop and think for a minute. I know I’m a busy person and it’s hard to keep track of so many things when I’m always on the go, but I’m too young to be this absent minded and losing my memory!
What Is Wrong With My Memory?
A few weeks ago I forgot to set my alarm early and almost missed an important client meeting at work. Not only did I screw up my alarm clock time, I didn’t even remember I had a meeting that morning until I was already halfway into my bus route – thank goodness I picked out a decent outfit that morning!
I was feeling more and more puzzled about what I was doing wrong for me to be that forgetful and baffled as to why my memory was full of holes. After poking around the web, I stumbled across the book, “Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything” by Joshua Foer and rushed out to read it.
I just finished reading the book and here are some of my notes I’d like to share. If you’ve ever been curious about how our memories work you’ll enjoy this book.
Moonwalking with Einstein Review
What I loved about the book
- HOW we use our brain, not the size of it, makes a big difference on what we can remember.
- The book is filled with lots of neat historical facts, results of memory studies, and info on how our memory works.
- Foer talks about his one-year journey training for the US Memory Championship, an amazing feat. He describes all sorts of memory tests he took, and the training and techniques he used along the way.
- These methods are described in detail and are oddly fascinating. It’s fun to try some of the easier ones yourself as you read along.
- He gives us a true inside look on memory championships and all the crazy, cool, mind boggling challenges the mental athletes tackle in the competitions.
- I now believe it IS possible to improve our memories to a certain degree & anyone can train to do amazing things with their mind if they are dedicated.
- Foer has a witty sense of humor and tells his story so naturally and with such detail you feel like he’s sitting right across from you.
- The descriptive, personal details from interviews he had during his year of research are vivid. One of my favorites was his interaction with Kim Peek, the real life inspiration for Dustin Hoffman’s character in the movie Rain Man.
What you should know before reading Moonwalking with Einstein
- It’s not written in the style of a self-help book.
- The nine chapters are a bit long and there aren’t punchy bullet points or chapter summaries. But keep in mind the author is describing a year’s worth of research and personal experiences.
- If you think learning how to remember large random sets of numbers, facts, words, names and faces, and cards is easy, you’re either already a National memory champ, or too apathetic to appreciate the book and the enormous challenges the author faced. Personally it blows my mind what he accomplished!
- Lastly, the techniques described in the book take time and serious practice to master, so don’t expect to become a memory champ overnight. As the author says, “…it takes a lot of remembering just to be able to remember.”
Ready to give the book a read? It is available on Amazon here: Moonwalking With Einstein
Untemplaters, how would you rate your memory skills and have you ever tried memory techniques? What types of things are you forgetful about?
Saw this talk by Joshua Foer yesterday on how experts learn/improve – thought it was pretty good:
So the book seems a lot more specific and focused on improving memory, not on learning tips in general?
That’s a great video link, thanks An! As for the book, it’s largely about Foer’s research and the events that lead up to his performance in the US Memory championship. He talks about several advanced techniques that most of us will probably not find useful in our day to day because they are difficult to master. However, he talks about the memory palace technique which is an easy technique that we can all learn and find quite helpful with a little practice. I recommend that chapter if you’re the most interested in memory tips.
Good review Sydney! But where is the link to the book? Or did I miss it? 🙂
Here you go, http://www.amazon.com/Moonwalking-Einstein-Science-Remembering-Everything/dp/159420229X It’s also available at Barnes and Noble online and in most book stores. Amazon actually lets you view the first chapter for free if you click on the Kindle Edition box in the sidebar, pretty neat!
Buck Inspire says
I’ve been getting a little forgetful myself. I’m thinking because I’m busier, which is a good thing. Need to check out this book, thanks for the review!
Glad to hear you’re happy being busier. I think I am too. I get too restless and lazy when I’m not working on something.
Hope you like the book. The opening chapters really drew me in. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing you can skim the middle chapters. The beginning and end are not to be missed though! 🙂
Memory Man says
The best thing about the book is that it teaches us that our memories CAN be improved upon, and great memory just isn’t for the gifted and talented.
Once people realize that they can improve their memory, they will! I had no idea until I read the book.
Thanks for sharing!
Glad you enjoyed the book! Our minds really are powerful and it’s awesome that the tips and techniques Foer talks about in the book really do work! I’ve already seen improvements in what and how much I can remember now, and I’m not worried losing my memory anymore. 🙂