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Showing 1-10 of 12 reviews(4 star). Show all reviews
on April 6, 2011
I bought this book after reading Moonwalking with Einstein which sparked my interest in the art of memory. I am also a pastor and my wife home-schools our three young children.

This book employs the same ancient technique advocated in Moonwalking, the "loci method" which "helps you to create vivid mental images of the information you wish to remember and to place these images in a setting as familiar as your own home" (10).

Vost, relying on Aquinas, outlines "four things whereby a man perfects his memory" (26):

1. What a man wishes to remember a thing, he should take some suitable yet unwonted illustration of it.
2. Whatever a man wishes to retain in his memory he must carefully consider to put in order.
3. We must be anxious and earnest about the things we wish to remember, because the more a thing is impressed on the mind, the less it is liable to slip out of it.
4. We should often reflect on the things we wish to remember.

To those new to this memory technique, Vost makes this outstanding claim: "If you read slowly and carefully, look at the pictures, and follow the instructions, by the time you finish, you'll be able to remember and name the Ten Commandments, the seven capital sins, the seven virtues, the nine Beatitudes, the seven sacraments, the twenty mysteries of the Rosary, and yes, if you are ambitious enough, even the names of the forty-six books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. And all of these in order, both forward and backward" (5). Vost continues, "You'll acquire specialized memory skills to retain any biblical passages of your choice (chapter and verse), to learn Greek and Latin religious terminology, to remember prayers and creeds--in fact, to recall virtually any material you desire" (6).


Part 1 (How to Use this Book and the Memory System of Aquinas) is important and helpful.

Parts 2-4 (Memorizing specific lists) is less helpful if you are not a Catholic. As a Baptist pastor I have little need to memorize the Ten Holy Days of Obligation in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, for example.

Parr 5 (Application for All Ages and How to Teach this System to Your Children) is invaluable.

A great tool for everyone, especially for Catholics. Non-Catholics can still enjoy much of the content, but many of the lists are not as useful.
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on November 26, 2013
Full disclosure: I actually did not intend to purchase this book. I wanted the other book, Memorize The Reasons, but it is not yet available in Kindle. I'm happy to have this book because I needed something to help me memorize the twenty Mysteries of the Rosary.

I'm actually going to write the kind of the review that I wish I had read before buying this book. I had no idea what to expect; I know a little something about studying and memorizing since I have a PhD so I couldn't imagine what new method of memorization I was about to learn.

For each group of items that you are going to memorize the author describes, and has a drawing of, a common room in an ordinary house. For example, let's say you are going to memorize the Ten Commandments. You see a drawing of the living room and ten numbered items. Number one is the front door, number two is the doormat and so on. To each of these ten items he associates a (sometimes wild or uncommon) idea, and then that idea is associated with one of the Commandments. At first I was taken aback, after all why would I want to picture of gun rack on the wall with a padlock over it. But when you think about it it makes perfect sense because I instantly remember that as Commandment number five, Thou Shalt not Kill.

The method really works. So far I have memorized the 10 Commandments, the seven deadly sins, the seven virtues and the twenty Mysteries of the Rosary. The reason for four stars and not five is not the content at all but the Kindle version. The drawings and the text do not go together there are blank pages were there shouldn't be blank pages it is all kinds of messed up. Since we Kindle users did not have the luxury of flipping back and forth quickly to see the drawings, there should be a bank of all the memory devices made available to us in one place, maybe at the back of the book. If you think that the rating should reflect only the content and not digital formatting, think again. Publishers (and ultimately authors) must demand that digital users be afforded a quality product. At least furnish us with a well-made app to accompany it.

I haven't read the rest of the book only because it has already served its purpose with the Mysteries. I just hope Memorize the Reasons comes out soon on Kindle, but in a suitable format.

UPDATE: At the time I wrote this review, the Kindle version of the other book was not available, but now it is!
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on June 18, 2010
As the title--Memorize the Faith! (And Most Anything Else)--indicates, this book does two things. First, it walks the reader through the memorization of a number of lists important to Catholicism (Twenty Mysteries of the Rosary, Fourteen Stages of the Cross, etc). Second, it introduces a memorization method used in antiquity and the Middle Ages that can be applied to virtually any aspect of life.

I ordered this book because I have an interest in old modes of living and looking at the world. What I was expecting was to be introduced to a "lost" memorization technique (perhaps with dubious utility) and documentation of this technique's usage among medieval monks and clergy. In fact, the technique is not lost, forgotten, or very unique. It is a form of associative memorization that can be found recommended in one form or another in a multitude of locations, such as the book Mind Hacks. It is of some interest (at least, to me) that these techniques were known among the Greeks and Romans and also used by medieval scholars. However, the book does not go into great detail about this history. The author recommends two other books about the history of memory techniques (The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture and The Art of Memory), and if that's what you're interested in, I suggest you pick up one of those rather than this book.

The majority of the book's content is not instructive, per se, but actual exercises through which the reader is led. So, if you're interested in the technique but not in actually memorizing aspects of Catholicism, this is not a good book for you. However, if you are a serious Catholic or in particular a serious Catholic homeschooling parent, I would think this book would be extremely useful to you.

If, like me, you have been exposed to associative memory techniques in the past and dislike them for one reason or another, I suggest you Google "SuperMemo" and "Mnemosyne" for something you might find more appealing. (Apparently, Saint Thomas Aquinas might blame our intransigence with regard to associative techniques on Obstinacy, Inconstancy, or Faint-Heartedness--aspects of the Capital Sins you would learn by using this book!)
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on May 12, 2011
This is one of the more useful books I've read in a very long time.

I have a memory problem that has gotten progressively worse as I grow older. I read a lot, and had encountered the loci method before (as presented by Cicero), but didn't understand it and dismissed it as being of any relevance. Although I was familiar with Aquinas, I didn't know that he'd ever written on the subject (or if I did, I forgot). When I first opened this book, and saw that it was built around the loci method, I was skeptical and prepared for disappointment but I read on.

I'm so glad that I did Dr. Vost presents the technique in a practical and effective manner. The fact that his examples are built around things that I'd already learned in my youth - but largely forgotten - was a good thing. Other book on the subject I've read started with arbitrary and meaningless lists. Memorizing a random list of things didn't seem relevant - starting out with memorizing the Ten Commandments as the first example, really felt like I had accomplished something relevant and propelled me further into the book, and on to greater accomplishments.

Artificial memory (memory that is trained, rather than natural memory -stuff you just remember) is a skill, and like any skill, requires practice. Using the tenets of faith provides plenty of material to practice with, and the techniques are immediately transferrable to other aspects of life.
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on April 20, 2012
I have a very good memory to begin with, but I was intrigued to see what I could learn from this book. I have to say, I am very impressed with the techniques I found in these pages, laid out very well and with good diagrams to get the process going. For Catholics, the information he is using to demonstrate the memory strategy is very useful. For Non-Catholics, the mileage may vary, but the memory techniques will still be useful and valid.
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on July 25, 2014
Kevin Vost seems to be very well read on this subject and able to teach to others the method of memorization St. Thomas taught. Time and my own effort will tell how effective it is but right now, for me, it seems to work.
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on November 5, 2010
I found this book to be nice little exercise in how to get the wheels of memory in motion. The use of rooms and articles within the rooms to bring back a particular point into memory was worthwhile.

The only little tiny gripe I had with the book is that I wish he had used the examples of the rooms for all of the exercises. I tend to be a more visual person so having to set up a couple of the memory exercises myself did not really work for me. But other than that I was pleased with this purchase.
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on January 6, 2014
This ancient method for memory can still be helpful today. I taught a class exploring the mechanics and physiology of memory along with this book. I can't wait to teach one on his new book, Memorize the Reasons. You can and probably do know your faith better than you think! The exploration of memory helped me in all areas of my life. I got to know myself better and the best way to utilize my memory.
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on April 13, 2015
Excellent read. I was familiar with Dr. Vost from some podcast interviews he gave and I enjoy his layman's approach to this memorization technique. There are some other, more academic works out there on the subject, particularly Aquinas himself, but still good for children or adults looking for a quick overview with some examples.
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on September 23, 2010
I've been studying the art of memory for many years, so it's wonderful to see this great mnemonic tradition demonstrated in practical examples. The art of memory had its beginnings in ancient Greece, then developed and matured through the Catholic tradition. Thomas Aquinas, in particular, was a key practitioner and spokesman for the art.

Kevin Yost does a good job here in presenting this memory art in simplified fashion. Anyone interested in memorizing church doctrine will find this book useful. Another benefit of the art of memory is its use in memorizing other information. Once learned the techniques Yost describes can be applied to remembering other lists, and so on.

If this book whets your appetite for this wonderful art, you might be interested in two other fascinating books, Frances Yates, The Art of Memory
and Gary Entsminger and Susan Elliott's Remembering the Parables: Using the Art of Memory to remember Jesus' parables.

Yates book provides an indepth history of the art of memory and is the standard reference. Entsminger and Elliott's book demonstrates more advanced use of the art of memory to memorize the parables of Jesus. Their journey method extends the method Yost describes to remembering more information. They also show how prose and poetry can be memorized as an aid to memory. This book is accompanied by fine artwork and includes useful information about the early Christian church and ancient memory traditions as well. All three books are highly recommended.
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