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Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  52,377 Ratings  ·  4,043 Reviews
Joshua Foer's Moonwalking with Einstein is an astonishing journey through the mind, and secrets of how our memory really works.

Can anyone get a perfect memory? Joshua Foer used to be like most of us, forgetting phone numbers and mislaying keys. Then he learnt the art of memory training, discovering the mnemonic ancient 'memory palace' technique first practiced by Simonides
Paperback, 307 pages
Published February 2nd 2012 by Penguin (first published January 1st 2011)
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Matthew Hayes One of the memory techniques discussed in the book is to associate the item to be remembered with a person and action. The more distinctive the person…moreOne of the memory techniques discussed in the book is to associate the item to be remembered with a person and action. The more distinctive the person and action, the easier it will be to remember. While memorizing a deck of cards, the author imagined himself moonwalking with Einstein to remember a pair of cards.(less)
Amy The book is not about Einstein. You might enjoy the following book about Einstein: Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain
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Community Reviews

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Aug 14, 2012 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here’s the hook. Suppose you want to commit the items on your to-do list to memory because you don’t have a pencil and paper. The first five items on your list are:

1. Buy a bottle of Bordeaux for tonight’s dinner party
2. Put Trainspotting at the front of the Netflix queue
3. Finish the office TPS reports before the weekend
4. Pick up the copy of The Master and Margarita that’s on hold at the library
5. Check the Haile Selassie wiki entry to see if the account of the attempted coup in Cutting for St
Mar 05, 2011 J rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Unimpressive - This is a great example of how misleading a book title can be. I'd give it one and a half stars but it is just not worth two.

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art & Science of Remembering Everything reads like a long magazine article - which is kind of where I found out about the book - The NY Times - last week. Having read the article, I was sufficiently impressed to get online and order the book. It arrived four days later and I couldn't wait to get started.

At the onset of his
Nov 29, 2011 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, nonfiction
Ignore the ridiculous title. Forget the hideous book cover. This is a fun and interesting read once you get past those stumbling blocks. Joshua Foer was a journalist who wrote a story on the U.S. Memory Championship, and he became so intrigued by the chance to improve his memory that he spent a year training to become a "mental athlete."

The book covers his year spent learning about mnemonics and memory palaces and all of the memorable (ahem) characters he met along the way. My favorite sections
Feb 14, 2013 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, brain, 2013
Cross posted atShelfinflicted

People do the oddest things in the name of winning.

I’m a competitive person (as are most of you reviewers out there). A few years ago I would have added the word “very” in front of competitive; I’ve mellowed as I’ve aged but I remember the lengths I went to in order to be the best at whatever I deemed important. But I’m fairly certain I would not go to such lengths to win a memory competition.

Joshua Foer thought it was a dandy idea…..

Joshua found himself in the worl
Richard Stephenson
Let me see if I have this right... pickled garlic, cottage cheese, Pete's Smoked Salmon, 6 bottles of champagne, 3 pairs of socks, hoola hoops, scuba diver in the sink, dry ice, send Sophia an email... I think I messed it up, but there's some simple proof that memory techniques *can* be useful.

Unfortunately, this book isn't about teaching memory techniques. It's about Josh's journey to winning the biggest little award in the US... which is NOT why I read this book.

Sure, the overall story was int
This wasn’t a bad book – I quite enjoyed some of it and the author sometimes had me laughing in the way you can’t help but laugh the first time you see the last scene of the very first Star Wars movie.

About twenty years ago I first came across Tony Buzan. I read a couple of his books and even learnt enough of his methods to be able to memorise an entire weekly shopping list and to go around the supermarket without paper. The problem was that I quickly came to the conclusion that ‘learning’ has
Joshua Foer begins exploring memory at the US Memory Competition, where he watches people who claim to have normal memory capacity memorize lists of phone numbers, the order of decks of cards, and poems in mere minutes. Intrigued, he eventually decides to compete in the competition himself and receives help from leaders in memory techniques along the way.

Foer weaves his experience in memory training with research and a history of the practice. With a casual, story-telling style he takes you on a
Mar 06, 2011 Oriana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
Well, I'm not going to lie, this book has already got two strikes: I basically hate the genre of "I did this wacky thing for a year, and then I wrote a book about it!", plus he is the brother of a famouser writer whom I more or less revile. But! OMG you guys, my memory is so laughably bad. And apparently this book might possibly have a side effect of helping me improve that, which would be worth slogging through a middling memoir.


Here's another book I'm sad I never found time to review. It wa
Apr 29, 2013 midnightfaerie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Moonwalking with Einstein was a phenomenal book that made me feel differently about myself. An average student growing up, I still felt I was a step behind everyone when it came to "getting stuff". So I made a point to know things ahead of time, go over itinerary for conventions, review code and new techniques for a meeting before the meeting or seminar happened, memorize rules and lists for activities in which I belonged to in a group, etc. Because of this I was often seen as being in the "top ...more
Mar 10, 2011 Grumpus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Arminius
I love his style of and chatty. Nice introductory chapters and a technique I learned while listening on the train (for half an hour) that allowed me to come home and impress my kids by having them write down a 50-digit number and then me recalling it digit-by-digit in order for them.

I never thought about it before, but the book points out that before pen and paper, anything that needed to be preserved had to be memorized. That is why so many of the techniques mentioned in the book
Atila Iamarino
Jan 17, 2017 Atila Iamarino rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mente, cerebro, memoria
Ótimo livro sobre memória. O autor começa a investigar como funcionava o sistema de memorização usado até a popularização dos livros e acaba se inscrevendo no campeonato americano de memória (e concorrendo).

O principal do livro, como funciona o palácio mental e os sistemas de memorização, é algo que poderia ser resumido em bem poucas páginas. Mas o embrulho dessa mensagem é muito bom, com histórias e feitos de memorização, o caminho do autor se preparando para o campeonato e uma série de coment
Clif Hostetler
This book explores technics that can be utilized to remember things. It's not a "how to" book, but rather it's an account of a year in the author's life dedicated to the training in the use of mnemonics to change from being a person with "normal" memory to winner of the USA Memory Championship. The basic point seems to be that you don't need to have a good memory to remember things. What's needed is to use the human brain's natural abilities at remembering images as a means to remember the esote ...more
One more disk to listen to but I can safely review it now.

I listened to this as a flier thinking it to be a how to on Mnemonics. It's more of a participatory journalism book like the Omnivores Dilemma, The Wave, Born to Run and Word Freak. These books share a common formula. 1 Part History,1 Part Science, 1 Part Interview with Characters, 1 Part How to, 1 Part Essay and 1 Part Personal Quest: training and competing in the America Memory Championship which he entered on a lark.

I found it to be w
Mar 24, 2011 Elyse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm an expert mnemonicist now! Ha ha.

This book is a fast read..(funny, somewhat interesting, somewhat useful)

June: 2015... 4 years later: i've come back to change my rating from 2 stars to 4 stars

This book actually is brilliant I remember it quite well. It didn't deserve 2 stars. The ending is actually very touching. My reason for giving it 2 stars four years ago is I didn't think I personally was very good at the techniques in the book.

This book came to my attention today from another friend
Jun 20, 2011 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Chicken sexers, chess masters, SWAT officers, people with bad memories
What do chicken sexers, chess masters, and SWAT officers have in common? They all become good at what they do by memorizing a vast amount of highly specialized information that allows them to make instant judgments. Moonwalking with Einsein is about memory, and is the most interesting non-fiction book I've read in the past year. It's full of interesting facts, a history of the art of memory and how it relates to the history of reading, and a lot of surprising information I did not know about how ...more
Nov 17, 2013 Carmen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in memory
This was a book about a man who learns to improve his memory in order to compete in the memory competition. The book talks a lot about creating 'memory palaces' in your mind in order to remember things. One thing that really annoyed me about this book was the sheer amount of time and effort these people put into memorizing useless stuff when I struggle so much with foreign language acquisition. This book also teaches that one should 'practice better, not harder.' Also, their methods of memorizat ...more
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I enjoyed Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer. I guess I just wanted it to be And I resented its movement between a theoretical examination of memory, a history of memory and memory techniques, and the author's experience with a group of hard-core champions of memory contests.

The author happens upon the world of memory training in which people perform amazing feats of memory and claim that their memory is only average, th
Oct 22, 2013 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A deeply interesting book. Joshua Foer covered a US Memory Championship and was inspired or stumbled into the world of memorization to the extent that a year later he competed and won the US memory championship. Now accounts of journalist undertaking some droll activity, with some appealingly oddball characters, are pretty common place and usually feel like a great magazine article was stretched out to painful lengths.

What made Moonwalking with Einstein so enjoyable was the mixture between lear
Robert Delikat
Aug 02, 2012 Robert Delikat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I just realized that my last three books had to do with memory: Remembrance of Things Past, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Moonwalking with Einstein (MwE). It was certainly not intentional and the Proust was not really about memory per se, only the title suggests that. But MwE is all about memory.

If you are looking for a self-help book on improving your memory, you might wish to look elsewhere, perhaps something by Tony Buzan who is a very important character in MwE. This is not to
Jan 03, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating book about the subculture of memory competitions. Joshua Foer, a journalist, decided to explore this subculture by attending competitions and talking with a number of the competitors. He relates some of the astounding feats of memory, like reciting 50,000 or even 80,000 digits of pi. He interviews Kim Peek, about whom the film Rain Man was written. Kim Peek really has the mental abilities portrayed by Dustin Hoffman in the movie, but is much more sociable (maybe even overly ...more
Mar 10, 2012 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started this one with somewhat lowered expectations, feeling like I was revisiting too-familiar territory. Being the clever woman I am, I had diagnosed a trend of immersive journalism about "brain sports" (I just made that term up), profiling the odd sort of people that tend to become obsessive about such things, and learning how to become obsessive oneself. And having spotted this trend, I was (of course) subsequently dismissive, skeptical that this book about memory competition would enterta ...more
Nov 12, 2013 Cher rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1.5 stars - I didn't like it.

This book had languished on my TBR shelf for over a year before I finally picked it up. Alas, it was not worth the wait. There are tiny moments of interesting information regarding how the human memory works, but for the most part, the author drones on about mundane details regarding his tedious preparation for a memory contest. It was a repetitive read, and very difficult to maintain focus and interest in the book. Sadly, I do not feel it will be very memorable, tho
Genia Lukin
Joshua Foer tackles in his book the issues of memory - how it is formed, how it has been lost, and how to improve it.

Aside from the anecdotal - the rather interesting glimpse into the world of the mental athletes, amusing to me personally because of my familiarity with (and let's be frank here, membership in) the geeky society at large, Foer also presents the more general - research into memory and amnesia, as well as a historical perspective on the memorisation techniques and learning of the p
So this was a lotta fun, a lotta more fun than I 'spected.

Joshua Foer (of the illustrious Foer family, of whom I am envious) ran into some weird people who call themselves "memory athletes". They do things like memorize 20thousand digits of pi or memorize the order of a deck of cards in a very short amount of time or memorize a long sequence of numbers or letters or words or pretty much anything for almost no reason at all. There's even something called the US Memory Championship (which the auth
Nyamka Ganni
Ой тогтоолтын талаар сайхан дэлгэрэнгүй ярьж өгч байна.
Нөгөө бидний гайхан биширдэг мундаг цээжлэгч нөхдүүд олон төрлийн дасгал ашиглаж цээжилдэг юм байна. Хэдий ой тогтоолтоо янз бүрийн аргаар дээшлүүлж болох ч хүний бие оюун гэдэг хэмжээтэй бололтой. Уйгагүй дасгал сургуулилт, үнэтэй цагаа зарцуулж байж тийм чадварыг олж авах нь тун амаргүй. Тийм гайхалтай цээжлэн тогтоох чадвартай боллоо гэхэд орчин цагийн гар утас гэх мэт технологийн дэвшлүүд биднийг байнга мэдээллийн илүүдлийн ядралд оруул
Cassandra Kay Silva
May 04, 2014 Cassandra Kay Silva rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This book helped my father get into and excited about challenging his memory, and he has now memorized a good portion of paradise lost and can recite for over an hour because of it. So I was pretty shocked to find that this work has almost no "how to" information in it. It is mostly just a memoir of getting into a memory competition and what this competitive world looks like. It does convey a fascination with memory and was fairly fun to read anyway. It gets an extra star for what it helped moti ...more
Tom Tabasco
Dec 02, 2015 Tom Tabasco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truly excellent work of participatory journalism. The author set out to explore the world of "memory competitions", and from there he made himself the subject of a study on skills-improvement, to the point that he won a national memory competition.

This book paints a high-level fresco on the subject of human memory: the history of how we recall things, how massively that has changed throughout the centuries, and how some ancient memory techniques (almost forgotten today) are surprisingly efficie
I picked up Joshua Foer’s intriguing study of memory and memory champions out of sheer curiosity. You see I am a big language enthusiast. At one point or another you can find me studying French, Japanese, or Swedish, and as many language students will tell you, learning that pesky grammar or vocabulary can be exhausting. You can be drilling the same set of words entire night, remember them for the next morning’s test, and then forget them completely by suppertime. To our great frustration, human ...more
Crystal Starr Light
Bullet Review:

Stupid Goodreads ate my bullet review!!! GAR!!

Very insightful and useful - more useful than that dumb "Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes". I love learning more about how the mind works and even picking up on some helpful tips (though don't be confused: although it's placed in self-help, it's not strictly self-help).

About the only bad is how dense it could get and how not useful memorizing random digits and cards are. I just can't help but wonder...why bother???
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Personal life

Foer is the younger brother of New Republic editor Franklin Foer and novelist Jonathan Safran Foer. He is the son of Esther Foer, president of a public relations firm, and Albert Foer, a think-tank president. He was born in Washington, D.C. and attended Georgetown Day School. He then went on to graduate from Yale University, where he lived in Silliman College, in 2004.

Foer is married
More about Joshua Foer...

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“Monotony collapses time; novelty unfolds it. You can exercise daily and eat healthily and live a long life, while experiencing a short one. If you spend your life sitting in a cubicle and passing papers, one day is bound to blend unmemorably into the next - and disappear. That's why it's so important to change routines regularly, and take vacations to exotic locales, and have as many new experiences as possible that can serve to anchor our memories. Creating new memories stretches out psychological time, and lengthens our perception of our lives.” 141 likes
“It is forgetting, not remembering, that is the essence of what makes us human. To make sense of the world, we must filter it. "To think," Borges writes, "is to forget.” 56 likes
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