Josh's Reviews > Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
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's review
Jun 11, 2012

really liked it

As someone with a concerning lack of memory (my fiance swears I'm looking at Alzheimer's if I don't do something about it soon), reading about Joshua Foer's path to memory greatness was an experience that I was very much looking forward to. And it was worth it. While he makes it very obvious at the conclusion of his book that having a great memory is more about technique than it is about pure ability, he constructs in his work a fascinating path towards greatness through training and diligence. Truly, as he states, anyone could do what he did, as long as they are dedicated and committed to learning the techniques and practicing them over and over again. He did it in just a year, so I would like to think that I would be able to do the same, if I was so inclined. Which, unfortunately, I'm not. However, I do see myself employing some of his techniques whenever the occasion arrises. In fact, I still remember the pickled garlic at the end of my driveway, a giant salmon smoking on my mom's old love seat, and tube socks doing the cancan in our old living room. All of that will make much more sense when you read the book, I swear. But the amazing thing is, it's been two days since I read that passage and committed those scenes to memory. And for someone who's always been concerned about his memory, it's a wonderful feeling to know that something's locked in there, waiting for recall. You know, even though my life is unchanged by the memory of smoked salmon and talking wine glasses.

Aside from Foer's personal journey, though, he also goes into the scientific study of memory, and the cases of extraordinary memory that confound scientists to this day (including a wonderful section in which he interviews the real life "Rain-Man"). Overall, I was extremely pleased with this book, and I thought the writing was superb -- entertaining, enthralling, and engaging. All the good e's. The only reason I felt that it deserved a 4-star rather than a 5-star rated was because I thought that he could be a bit verbose at points, describing beyond the necessary in order to increase drama, or simply reveal something already understood. That small issue aside, though, I liked everything else about the book and would wholly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a story about personal triumph, fascinating scientific research and understanding, and techniques to make yourself a better rememberer -- even if only for parlor tricks and phone numbers.

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