Moon walking with Einstein – Joshua Foer (2011)

Think of a bunch of things you want to remember (think of around ten-twenty things to start).  Now think back to your childhood home, really think about he driveway and the walkway, the front door; it’s color it’s design.  Walk through it with your mind, the staircase leading to the second floor.  Where was the kitchen, your room the den?  Where was the TV, how was the kitchen laid out?  Think of as many details as possible.  Now go back to those ten to twenty items.  Create the most lewd, crass animated strange obscure pictures of these things possible.  Now with each item, in it’s strangeness place it along the design of your childhood home that you’ve made with your mind.  Place the first item along the driveway, place the second item at your garage door, another at the doorstep and so on.  The object here is to connect things you need to remember alongside something that you know better than the back of your hand.  This is a memory palace and it’s how many competitors memorize ridiculously huge amounts of items for the Annual Memory Competition held in NYC.  I’ve used it and it works 🙂

This book was a blast, from start to finish.  While researching the above mentioned Memory Competition the author becomes imbedded in it’s culture and while your along for the ride you learn several of the tricks.  The author does a wonderful job of making note of possible pseud0-scientific claims made by some of the professional in the business which I admire.

Recently I’ve actually watched a young man utilizing some of the tricks (mainly swapping words for large numbers) in his act of mathamagics at the Northeast Conference of Science and Skepticism.

An informative and fun read about not only the history (and what a history) of memorization, but where our education system went wrong with it (and where it can get back on track) and the power of the brain (all backed up with a little thing called science).