In review today is “Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything” by Joshua Foer. Let’s take a look at the key insights as well as themes from this book.
How our mind works is still one of the biggest mysteries of the universe. You try to remember a couple of random things and you can’t. But turn them into images and suddenly you are able to remember a deck of cards in a minute (before reading this book I was sure I couldn’t do that, now I think I could with enough practice).
What gives this book credibility is that the author (a journalist by profession) got intrigued by memory, then learned and practiced the techniques described in the book for a year and entered and won the U.S. Memory Championship!
It’s also witty, highly engaging and a pleasure to read. I found about this book reading the Bill Gates blog (mr. Gates seems to be a great book lover like us!).
Key Takeaway #1
People who win memory contests aren’t super-human. They just use certain , very precise, techniques for visualizing things. It then just takes months and months of practice (as with everything else) to achieve the top competition level.
Key Takeaway #2
The main idea of the book is the use of Memory Palaces, places you are so familiar with that you can visualize them at any moment without a problem. For example this can be your house. Then you would turn whatever you need to memorize into vivid images and place these around your memory palace.
Various techniques apply for remembering different things. For example to memorize a deck of cards, you would first assign each card a vivid image, composing of a Subject – Act – Object – for example “Tom Cruise flies an F14″.
Then you would grab three cards at a time, and take the subject from the first, act from the second and the object from the third, creating a completely new, even more vivid picture in your head (for example “Tom Cruise fights a postcard” and you would store this image at the door of your house and continue to walk around it and store new images.
Later when you want to remember this, all you need to do is walk around the house in your head and decipher all images that you see.
I will give this book 85 out of 100. It is a real page turner and will also offer unique insights into the “art of memory”.