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Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything [Paperback]

Joshua Foer
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 28 2012 0143120530 978-0143120537 Reprint

The blockbuster phenomenon that charts an amazing journey of the mind while revolutionizing our concept of memory

An instant bestseller that is poised to become a classic, Moonwalking with Einstein recounts Joshua Foer's yearlong quest to improve his memory under the tutelage of top "mental athletes." He draws on cutting-edge research, a surprising cultural history of remembering, and venerable tricks of the mentalist's trade to transform our understanding of human memory. From the United States Memory Championship to deep within the author's own mind, this is an electrifying work of journalism that reminds us that, in every way that matters, we are the sum of our memories.



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Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything + The Memory Book: The Classic Guide to Improving Your Memory at Work, at School, and at Play + Triple Your Reading Speed: 4th Edition
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From Amazon

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.
--Miriam Landis --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Rule 62 Ken TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Who knew that there were international memory championships and that reading about them could be so interesting? In Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, author Joshua Foer writes about how he went from being an internet journalist assigned to cover this event to becoming a competitor in one, one year later. This is one of the most interesting accounts of participatory journalism ever told. But the book is much much more than this. In between the continuing tale of how the author first becomes exposed to this unique competition, how he befriends several of the competitors, is seen as a curious annoyance to others, how he is mentored and trained, how he actually trains for the competition, culminating in his competing in the American Memory Championships, Foer weaves in many pieces of interesting information. These include the techniques actually used to improve memory and to memorize vast chunks of information, a user-friendly explanation of the physiology and neurology of memory, the history of mnemonics beginning with the Greek Poet Simonedes of Ceos (who, according to legend, was able to recall the names and seating plan for all the attendees of a banquet hall suffering a roof collapse), the difference between remembering words and remembering images, profiles of those who have exploited memory techniques for personal gain and those who haven't, a wonderful discussion about the place of memorization in education, a profile of an inner city school utilizing memorization to improve the performance of its students, as well as interviews with some of the interesting personalities in the world of memory. Read more ›
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good as far as it goes, but could go farther April 5 2011
Format:Hardcover
This book is well-written and researched -- indeed, it's one of the most outstanding examples of participatory journalism I've come across. Its chief value for me is that it contains lively and well-informed discussions of memory techniques which have been lost to our culture through the ages; however,the chapter "How to Memorize a Poem" -- the main reason I bought this book, and ditto for songs, my rote memory being frustratingly porous for these things -- did not live up to its billing. It's hard to imagine applying "Memory Palace" techniques to material that already contains its own "mental landscape": wouldn't they interfere with each other? What do you associate with each room, a word or a phrase or a stanza? He ends that chapter with the strange and discouraging assertion that poetry is among the more difficult things to remember using these techniques -- and yet, wasn't that one of the main purposes of memory techniques in times past? This book did make me interested in other writings that might elucidate the process or memorizing verbal material better. One I'd recommend is "By Heart -- 101 poems to remember" edited with an introduction by Ted Hughes. That short introduction does far more to clarify the process than this book. I perhaps wouldn't have found value in that book, though, without having my curiosity piqued by this one. It's been on my bookshelves for years; only now may I make use of it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
This is absolutely not a self-help book on how to improve your memory, but it's a fun and compelling read, with some very thought-provoking ideas. The descriptions of the various events, the people involved, and the author's own journey is very compelling. Apart from that, some of the ideas introduced in the book, looking at the role and meaning of education in relation to memory for example, were really interesting to me. They were not probed particularly deeply in the book, but it is something I definitively want to look further into, and this was a great start. The demonstration of how the techniques work are great, but some of the examples are bit overly detailed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Talent vs Training Sept. 3 2011
Format:Hardcover
Although the book is in no way an exhaustive scientific research on memory and mnemonics, it touches on an interesting topic. Is there such a thing as an inborn talent or genius? Or is it something that any human can train and develop? After conducting an interesting and fun field experience, the author seems to be more inclined to believe that memory capacity and recollection genius are something that anyone can train and develop. On the other hand, the author also gives a couple of neurological examples on extreme human memory capacities that seem to be inborn and have more to do with physiology than conscious training efforts. The weakness of the books is that the author never gets more into details on the topic of memory, but it still can serve as an exciting, fun, and contemporary introduction into the world of memory training.

I particularly liked the chapter on the so-called OK-plateau. It is true that apart from the neurological disorders and accidents that could slow down our memory capacities, our simple human tendency to be lazy is also to blame.

In any case, the book is fun to read and lets you want to read further into the topic...
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting read. June 18 2011
Format:Hardcover
I completely enjoyed "Moonwalking with Einstein". But I think some people (including the extremely Negative Nelly who gave this book a 2 out of 5), may pick up this book looking for ways to cheat their way to an unbeatable memory. If you are one of those people, don't buy this book. More than anything it's about one man's journey into the underground world of memory championships, which is filled with truly fascinating characters. By no means are any of these people "losers". They are interesting and compelling individuals who each try to push their memory to it's limit. Foer's adventure was compelling and intriguing and I was totally hooked. I finished this book within 3 days. I simply couldn't put it down!

There are memory tricks in the book which are explained with much detail and, I must say, do really work! However, they require a great deal of time to hone and implement. I definitely don't think that simple memory tricks were the inteded purpose of this book, and to me, that wasn't the most interesting part of the story. What I did love was how this book offers a unique view into a world most of us have never heard of before. Foer does a great job of describing the strange and fascinating world of the memory olympics!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to memory techniques
This book really gives you insights and motivation to go more in depth in memorization techniques as well as there limitations.
Published 5 months ago by Jamie H
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
Very good mix of recounting his story with side tangents that help to further educate the reader, definitely worth reading!
Published 9 months ago by Craig
2.0 out of 5 stars Moonwalking
I expected a different book, more info on how to remember. Not quite through the book. but will finish it.
Published 11 months ago by Frank Nuspel
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent tour through the garden path of memory
I quite enjoyed reading this text because the author went on a mnemonic pilgrimage himself, personally interviewed many people involved in competitive mnemonics, as well as... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Matthew Millard
4.0 out of 5 stars so helpful
I started reading this book before my PMP exam and used some of the techniques to remember key things for the test. I passed and I'm pretty sure this book helped. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mel
4.0 out of 5 stars Read this book
A very thought provoking book on memory, It may change the way you think of your ability to remember. Written in an easy to read fashion.
Published 20 months ago by Robert Van Tol
4.0 out of 5 stars Help for short term memory loss
I bought 3 copies one for a friend and another for a relative having short term memory loss and myself as curiosity
Published 20 months ago by Patricia Miller
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, intelligent, thought provoking book on memory
I read this book to get inspired on how to be more intentional about memorization and appreciated the effort the author put into examining history and methods that have been used... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Cherisse Bank
5.0 out of 5 stars I do have a memory!
if you think you are losing your memory or have never had a good memory - buy this book and try some of the suggestions!! You will be pleasantly surprised!
Published on June 11 2012 by Kim
1.0 out of 5 stars Einstein had Aspergers Syndrome; a kind of Autism. Where's the mention...
This all sounds great, but there doesn't seem to be any mention of Einstein's Autism. It is well documented in science that people with Aspregers Syndrome: (a form of Autism), and... Read more
Published on Nov. 17 2011 by D. N. G.
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