Book: Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

I like this book. Learned many things and enjoyed listening to it as a story. I don’t think it’s life-changing for me, but it brought good insights and some curiosity about how I can improve my memory.

I saw some people mentioning that “this is not a book to teach you how to improve your memory”. I don’t even know why they were expecting that. The book makes no claims that it’s going to teach you techniques to improve your memory. This book is about the author’s quest to win a memory championship and what he learned in the process. You can learn memory techniques from this book, but it’s more of a side-effect than the original goal, IMO.

I decided to consume this book after I started to memorize the Mnemonica by Juan Tamariz. It seems Tamaiz’s book has many references to this one because of the techniques mentioned here.

I first heard about the “memory palace” when watching Sherlock Holmes by BBC. It’s a great concept and it makes total sense. When memorizing the Mnemonica, I adapted a story I saw on youtube and the images are what makes it stick.

I totally recommend reading this book. The whole story is cool and the techniques mentioned bring many pointers for the geeks.

Here are my notes for this book:

I can’t remember the breakfast I had yesterday but I can remember exactly the breakfast I had many years ago when the 9/11 attacks happened. Why? The Association of words with places, images, flavors, smells, etc. Is the best way to record something in our minds. Sometimes we may miss some of those words by not being able to see it in the place we virtually let them (e.g. an egg in a while wall) Experts see the world differently. They see things normal people don’t see. We can store an average of seven things in our short term memory by using a phonological loop (repeating it to ourselves) We don’t remember isolated facts, we remember things in context. There’s a study with chess masters that shows exactly that by showing valid and invalid chess positions. Monotony collapses time, novelty unfolds it. You can eat healthily and exercise to live a long life but perceive a short one. The full quote (added when writing the review): “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 important to change routines regularly, and take vacations to exotic locales, and have as many new experiences as possible that can anchor our memories. Creating new memories stretches out psychological time, and lengthens our perception of our lives.” It’s important to change your routine from time to time, so you can perceive your life better. Life seems to speed up when we get older because life is also less memorable when we get older The neocortex is not fully formed until the 3rd or 4th year of a child infancy As infants, we lack a schema to interpret the world, so it’s hard to store memory properly to be recovered later Natural memory is the one evolution brought to you. Artificial memory is the link to your natural memory. It’s like the software (artificial) running on top of the hardware (natural) The method of Loci, aka memory palace, makes use of the artificial memory to store things on your natural memory Akira Haraguchi mnemonic specialist Pi digits ( was mentioned The word “topic” comes from the word “place” (greek?). The sentence “In the first place” comes from this memory material. We teach the alphabet as a song because it’s easier to remember. Histories have been passed along by bards for generations It helps to do the action you’re leaning in a new language, it tends to stick easily To Socrates, the meaning of knowledge is knowing and remembering many things. There’s no point in writing down to pass the knowledge along In the past, manuscripts were copied for no reason other than remembering them. The Torah has no vowels or spaces – WAT In the past, books were not that accessible, so it’s better to memorize them as you don’t know if you will have access to it again You can’t read a page in one minute and expect to remember it for a long time PAO, person, action, object. Think about a person, doing an action, and holding an object. You can combine that to e.g. memorize three cards We all reach “OK plateaus” on everything we do. It’s when you move something to autopilot and stop improving Amateur musicians focus on playing songs. Expert musicians focus on training the tedious exercises to improve the hardest parts of songs. Deliberate practice must be hard by its nature The best way to improve typing is to type faster than it feels comfortable and allow yourself to make mistakes so you can learn and improve If not practicing deliberately, even experts will not evolve at a good pace Knowledge is required to acquire knowledge. Sometimes you need a base to understand other things. When traveling, you will miss a lot of things if you don’t understand the culture There’s a feedback loop in memory and knowledge. One is not required for the other, but it helps. Remembering can only happen if you decide to take notice

PS. this is another book that mentions EP’s case of memory loss. The nice coincidence of listening to this after the power of habit :)