Amazon Best Books of the Month, March 2011: Moonwalking with Einstein follows Joshua Foer's compelling journey as a participant in the U.S. Memory Championship. As a science journalist covering the competition, Foer became captivated by the secrets of the competitors, like how the current world memory champion, Ben Pridmore, could memorize the exact order of 1,528 digits in an hour. He met with individuals whose memories are truly unique—from one man whose memory only extends back to his most recent thought, to another who can memorize complex mathematical formulas without knowing any math. Brains remember visual imagery but have a harder time with other information, like lists, and so with the help of experts, Foer learned how to transform the kinds of memories he forgot into the kind his brain remembered naturally. The techniques he mastered made it easier to remember information, and Foer's story demonstrates that the tricks of the masters are accessible to anyone.
In this marvellous book, Joshua Foer invents a new genre of non-fiction. This is a work of science journalism wrapped around an adventure story, a bildungsroman fused to a vivid investigation of human memory. If you want to understand how we remember, and how we can all learn to remember better, then read this book -- Jonah Lehrer A marvelous overview of one of the most essential aspects of what makes us human - our memory ... Witty and engaging -- Dan Ariely Captivating ... Engaging ... Mr. Foer writes in these pages with fresh enthusiasm. His narrative is smart and funny and, like the work of Dr. Oliver Sacks, it's informed by a humanism that enables its author to place the mysteries of the brain within a larger philosophical and cultural context. -- Michiko Kakutani New York Times Memory ... makes us who we are. Our memories, Foer tells us, are the seat of civilization, the bedrock of wisdom, the wellspring of creativity. His passionate and deeply engrossing book means to persuade us that we shouldn't surrender them to integrated circuits so easily. It is a resounding tribute to the muscularity of the mind. ... though brain science is a wild frontier and the mechanics of memory little understood, our minds are capable of epic achievements. The more we challenge ourselves, the greater our capacity. It's a fact that every teacher, parent and student would do well to learn. The lesson is unforgettable. Washington Post [An] endearingly geeky world...witty and revelatory...[The] journey certainly demonstrates how much memory matters...Apart from anything else, filling up our mental storehouses in the right way can make life feel longer. -- Oliver Burkeman Guardian Riotous...[Foer] makes suspenseful an event [the World Memory Championships] animated mostly by the participants' "dramatic temple massaging". By book's end Foer can boast the ability to memorise the order of nine and one half decks of cards in an hour. Yet he still loses track of where he left his car keys, like the rest of us. -- Alexandra Horowitz New York Times One year, Joshua Foer is covering the US Memory Championships as a freelance journalist, the next he returns as a competitor - and wins it...How he pulled off this extraordinary feat forms the spine of this crisply entertaining book. -- Matt Rudd Sunday Times Combines erudite analysis, historical context, a mind-bending adventure and extremely suggestive sex - some of it involving Foer's grandmother. -- Tony Allen-Mills Sunday Times A labyrinthine personal journey that explains how our author ended up in the finals of the US Memory Championship - a compelling story arc from sceptical journalist to dedicated participant. I can't remember when I last found a science book so intriguing. -- David Profumo Literary Review [D]elightful...empathetic, thought-provoking and...memorable. -- Elizabeth Pisani Prospect [A] charming book...interwoven with informed exposition about the psychological science of memory. -- Professor Larry R Squire Nature A fascinating, engaging and very well-written book. -- Dallas Campbell Science Focus Addictive and fascinating...extraordinary. [Foer] attended the US Memory Championship as a journalist and returned the next year as a competitor and won...It is Foer's gifts as a teacher and a storyteller that make this book essential reading. -- Leo Robson Scottish Sunday Express Take, for example, the emergence of Downing Street as a salon for intellectuals from around the world, and not only economists and political scientists. Under David Cameron-or, more accurately, Steve Hilton, the prime minister's most influential adviser-the thinkers invited to hold court there often have little to say about policy per se. Joshua Foer, a young American who has written an acclaimed book about how memory works, was a recent guest. Mr Hilton's rationale is that governments have more to learn from fields of research that investigate how humans behave, such as neuroscience and social psychology, than from conventional technocrats. There is now a policy team devoted to "behaviourial insight" in the Cabinet Office. Bagehot, The Economist Foer's book is great fun and hugely readable, not least because the author is a likeable sort of Everyman-science nerd whom we want to become a memory champion. Always fascinating and frequently mind-boggling, Moonwalking with Einstein is a book worth remembering. -- Mark Turner The Independent In the most entertaining science book of the year, Foer describes how, though claiming to have an average memory, he became America's Memory Champion after just 12 months in training. The best way to recall an array of disparate objects is to place each object within some bizarre visual narrative. The more bizarre the better, hence the title of the book. Foer's personal story frames a history of memory from early hunters needing to find the way home to modern-day investigations (still very much in their infancy) of memory's neural workings Sunday Times Science Books of the Year