789 of 798 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2000
Kenneth Higbee is very direct about his memory book. He writes that he fills in a very specific niche that isn't being filled by current memory books. I think that he is right.
I have recently read 4 other memory books, Kevin Trudeau's "Mega-Memory", Tony Buzan's "Use Your Perfect Memory", Harry Lorayne's "How to Develop a Superpower Memory" and Lorayne and Lucas's "The Memory Book". I have read some of them previously, but intentionally read them over with the intent to compare them to each other and see if there was any difference.
If you are already sold on various memory techniques (pegging, loci etc...) and only want to learn the techniques, it really doesn't matter which book you read, they all contain the same information about the actual techniques. All of them usually have a little history included as well about where the techniques come from and how they developed.
Higbee, however, goes one step further than all the other books. He is aiming this book at students (I'm sure this is a text book for his memory course), educators and intelligent readers. He gives answers to long time questions that are so often asked (what is a photographic memory? Do different systems interfere with each other?, will you forget what you remember? How good are the different techniques? etc...). Higbee answers all of these and more in a clear way with little ambiguity. He provides the latest research and references to medical and psychological journals on how the techniques work, results from various students in his classes and his own experiences. He looks directly at problems with the memory systems and addresses criticism from various sources.
The book left me impressed and addressed all of my questions and even questions that friends asked me after I'd read the book. I was able to answer all of their questions without problems. Also, I found that the extra chapter on study techniques changed how I read textbooks and technical information. In fact, I began reading the rest of his book in the same way that he suggested and found it worked very well for absorbing information.
To summarise, Higbee gives various memnonic techniques that are general enough to use every day, some suggestions on how to use them, references to books that give you even more suggestions and research evidence to back it up. Higbee also warns that these aren't always worth your time. If you are looking for an easy way to get a photographic memory, look elswhere. Most of these techniques take time and effort and some can even hinder your memory if you try to use them and only put only a little time in.
This book is the kind that I recommend to friends and I think every student should probably read at least once. There are tools here that are life changing and worth your time to learn. A simply outstanding book.
207 of 210 people found the following review helpful
There are many books about memory and memory improvement on the marketplace. Most of them tend to fall into one of two categories. Either a treatise on the brain, how memories are formed, the types of memories and the basics of recall or a treatise of memorization techniques that have been used over the centuries. The first type offers great information but very little useful advice for someone seeking to improve their memory. The second type offers lots of techniques that may work in one situation or another but don't give enough information on how they work to allow you to adapt them to your own personal needs.
This book offers a nice medium ground. It offers information on the various types of memories and current scientific research into memory and then follows up with several types of techniques to enable you to remember different things. The advantage to this book is that since it gives you both pieces information in a concise, integrated work it provides you with the framework to design and/or adjust the techniques to your personal needs.
The book does not offer any new mnemonic techniques or any groundbreaking work in that area. However, I found that by understanding how the techniques work and how to work with them I was able to adapt the systems and/or use multiple systems to quickly memorize material that had been problematic before.
The book covers basic systems from the common Loci system that is quick and easy to learn to the much more flexible and complex phonic system that requires much more study and practice to use effectively. While these are not new, a work that details the manner in which they work and encourages you to adapt the system to your needs is new. This is definitely one of the best single books that I have read on the subject and was immediately useful.
The only thing that I did not like about the book was the great multitude of references to other works, systems, and detailed applications of the system to various specific situations. The references are not a problem in themselves as they do not break up the flow of the book and are summarized at the end of the book in an easy to read fashion. The problem is that while they point out where information came from they do not point out where to get your hands on the information. This has not been a problem for me in the past as I have generally not really cared to follow up to the original source of footnotes and references. But this book was so well done that I found myself often wanting to follow up with the references and not able to locate them. For example, in Chapter 12 he mentions a book and a game that contain 1,200 Bible verses set out with mnemonic devices to help learn them and where they are located in the Bible. After a couple of examples to whet your appetite the only information in the reference material related to the footnote is where the book can be purchased. Not even a mention of the book's name if one should desire to purchase it. No mention of the game name nor where one might find it. Of course it may not be too difficult to locate if you had a name for the game or book or anything else other than just the publisher.
288 of 309 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2006
This review is written from the perspective of someone learning a lot of complex material who wants to retain the learned material for a very long time. The book does a poor job of helping with this goal, although it does address other goals (described below) fairly well.
The book starts with about 45 pages of general background on how memory works. The rest of the book is predominantly about mnemonics (124 of the remaining 172 pages). In particular, a great deal of time is spent on the Link, Story, Loci, Peg, and Phonetic systems. These systems are all very similar in both how they work and the type of information that one can learn. Essentially, they provide a framework for keeping track of an ordered list of items. Also, some can be adapted for remembering numbers. If you want to learn lists of words or some special numbers, then they will be useful. However, if you want to remember trigonometric identities or calculus, then they are not going to help much. (There was a mention in the book of Masachika Nakane, who applied mnemonics to trigonometry and calculus, but no information is given on how this was done.) The more abstract and/or procedural the material to be learned is, the less useful the mnemonics presented are.
Besides the limitations in the type of information that can be stored, most of the mnemonics are just temporary storage; if you want to memorize multiple lists and remember them at the same time, then these mnemonics are not going to be helpful. This is because the framework is recycled and this leads to interference between the lists. (There are some strategies presented to deal with this interference problem, but they don't sound very effective and they will not scale past a few lists.)
Most applications of Link, Story, Loci, Peg, and Phonetic mentioned in the book are pretty pointless. For example, the author claims that people can shout out 20 words in a row and he can recite them forward or backward, odd or even, etc. (Of course, when he has to reuse his system for the next demonstration, he will probably forget them all.) Another example is the author's claim that he learned the phone numbers of 100 people in one of his social groups. A third example is the woman who remembered her to-do list without notes. These feats may impress your friends, but the latter two can be done with a PDA; in fact, the first feat can also be done with the PDA if it has a voice recorder function.
In fairness to the book, I should mention some of the positives. It is probably one of the better in its class. It is well researched, written fairly well, and has extensive footnotes for further reading. It does describe how to use mnemonics to remember people's names: an important application that many people can use. Some information is given about how to memorize foreign language vocabulary; while not a lot of detail is given for this application, the task is sufficiently similar to many of the tasks outlined in the book that one could benefit from the book.
66 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2001
This book is a comprehensive treatment of useful memory systems. It claims to seek a balance between the "popular" memory books and the archaic, academic memory literature. This is a goal which it successfully achieves.
There are many great things about this book. It covers all the main mnemonic systems. The author provides up to date reviews of relevant literature to comment upon the effectiveness of the systems. He does this in a very clear, easy going style which makes the book enjoyable to read, unlike the hefty academic memory journals. The great thing about this book is that it doesn't hype "Super power memory" or "Photographic memory" or any such nonsense. It teaches you not only the techniques but the way in which to correctly apply techniques. Thus, you know what the mnemonic systems are and when to use them.
To be honest I can't think of anything that I dislike about this book. The author adopts a very no nonsense approach and I can heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about how to improve their memory.
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2004
I read this book before I read "The Memory Book" by Lorayne and Lucas and found that much of the same material is covered in both, but in entirely different ways. It's really an "either or" decision between the two based on what you want to gain.
Personally, between the two books, I prefer Higbee's book because of his thorough examination of memory, its history, case studies, analogies, and anecdotes. I find it to be inspiring to see its great applications and that most people benefit greatly from these techniques. This style helped me to retain enthsiasm to learn and yet was written in a plain and often humorous style.
"The Memory Book" has its own benefits. It lays everything out in easy to understand instructions and lists a few dorky "party tricks" you can do with some of the techniques (though who's really going to entertain friends with "memory feats"?). Lorayne and Lucas do offer something not offerred in Higbee's book: short chapters dedicated to using memory techniques for specific tasks such as learning music, stock symbols, sports plays, or locations. These chapters make up a small portion of the book and could easily be read off the shelf at a local bookstore.
To sum up, both books offer up basically the same exact memory techniques. It's up to your own learning style to decide which one you prefer.
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2003
WHAT DOES THIS BOOK CONTAIN? This book is an excellent resource for those who are looking for answers like why digits in excess of about 7 are hard to remember after hearing them only once, why a name so familiar cannot be remembered sometimes, why is it easier to remember the colors of the spectrum by remembering the phrase Richard-Of-York-Gave-Battle-In-Vain, etc. The book contains enough information on how your memory works (not enough for a memory researcher though) and also contains references to other papers which a interested reader may consult for further information. The book also has effective ways of learning something, like studying two different subjects in two different rooms to reduce interference, making things that need to be learnt meaningful (like the spelling of Arnold Sch-War-Zen-Egg-Er), etc. Finally, the ending chapters contain the following memory techniques (mnemonic): link and story mnemonics, loci mnemonic, peg mnemonic, and phonetic mnemonic. It also contains a chapter on remembering peoples' names and faces.
WHAT CAN BE LEARNT FROM THE BOOK? Using the effective study techniques and mnemonic techniques from the book, you can make effective use of your memory and will not forget things as easily as you used to. You can learn a whole year's calendar by remembering only a 12 digit number. You can learn the value of "pi" up to as many digits as you want to. You can learn a list of up to 100 or more items on a list. You can put all the telephone numbers of your relatives and friends in your head. You might not have to carry your PDA, provided you use your PDA solely for information retrieval.
WHAT'S THE BOTTOM LINE? No memory book will improve your short term memory from 7 items to 7+ items, provided you are a normal person. All memory books contain techniques to make effective memory usage - do not expect to remember what you were doing yesterday at, say 2.27 PM studying all the memory books in the world and applying all the mnemonic techniques in the world. If you want something like that, travel into the future and get electronic chips implanted in your brain. This book does not contain enough examples on application of the mnemonic techniques. I suggest you get Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas's "The Memory Book" in addition to this book for more applications and examples of the mnemonic techniques.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 1998
Dr Higbee reviewed literally hundreds of papers, books, etc, on memory. Here he distills what's fact & fiction. He teaches methods that really work. But, they do take some practice. The easiest ones can be picked up in minutes. Others take prep time & practice of an hour or more, but will help from then on. For instance, want to know how to remember long strings of numbers? It's here, it's easy (once you learn the technique) and it's probably not what you think.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2005
I actively used the techniques in Dr Higbee's course [not all of them] and made an A in BIO 100 and Astronomy at BYU. Now I am buying the updated book for my daughter who is beginning high school courses online thru BYU. I wish I could find the online course for her, but the book will carry her far.
I wish I had this book before my first college course in 1977 instead of 2000! I also read all 26 reviews and will not reiterate contents. Several reviewers mentioned a game, but I think this was part of research on Dr. Higbee's part and not a retail item, but you might check an LDS Bookstore like BYU Bookstore, or Liahona in Atlanta, GA, or Deseret Books, which has an online store. If it was created for a research study, that would explain the lack of info on where to purchase it. But, his chapter on how to memorize the main points of the Book of Mormon apply to the Bible also....
I think the previous edition was a good balance between scholarly topics and lay language. One cannot please everybody :) If he quoted stats from so many studies, the book would be inaccessible to most non-psych majors. I am a former one, but I enjoyed the relaxed, lay manner of the book. I read Harry Lorayne's book in 1977 and never got past attempting the peg method. Dr. Higbee's approach made the peg and phonetic methods come alive for me, and I was able to successfully use them, not only for 2 A's in academic subjects, but I got my Ham license [Technician Class-the entry level, plus Morse Code, that I had tried to get for years].
One warning: Memorization takes work, and no method will take the work out of memorizing a lot of material. Dr. Higbee emphasizes this frequently. But, using the methods with his student-friendly approach, along with your usual effort to memorize, will get better results than your usual, if you are not already applying these methods :) Your results will depend on a lot of factors, including how important the material is and how often you will review it. He gave an example in the previous version of memorizing the latest issue of Time magazine enough to give a demonstration. Dr. Higbee admits that previous issues are quickly forgotten without review of the issues. It is a matter of how important the material is, and how often the review. I have forgotten much of my A courses because I haven't reviewed them, and that's not Dr. Higbee's fault. I really enjoyed his online course at BYU Independent Study, and wish I could've taken his course in person. Health failed and I had to leave school before finishing my degree, but I will never forget how I enjoyed my time at BYU. I am grateful to Dr. Higbee, and hope I can find the online course again [apparently I missed it or it is not offered at this time] for my daughter to take. It was Psych 270, I think, or maybe the online version was Psych 100, but it was a 1 semester hour course, and the best hundred dollars I ever spent.
If you buy this book, be sure to take the time to do the exercises, and I think you will get a lot more out of it than just reading it. After all, when you study, you do a lot more than just read :) Enjoy!
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2004
Higbee's book, Your Memory, is a combined survey of mnemonic techniques and systems, with supporting research, and an introduction to memory - processes, myths and misconceptions, basic techniques. It contains numerous examples of memorizing lists, numbers, names, and faces. The chapter on study skills I found useful. But its relative lack of examples illustrating the application of mnemonic systems to complex, abstract material was frustrating.
The book progresses smoothly and logically. Higbee's style is clear and readable; though his analogies are awkward, the explanation of which often taking up more space than the concept they were meant to illustrate. Touted as a practical guide, I found it more of an introduction and a defense of the benefits of memorization - and a good one at that. Throughout he includes research supporting the effectiveness of the techniques he describes, references to other textbooks and guides, and explanations for why some material is remembered better than others. Higbee uses the first three chapters to dispel some common misconceptions of memory, such as the belief that it is a thing rather than a process, and to describe what memory really is and how it works. Chapters four and five form the core of the book. In these chapters the basics are described: meaningfulness, organization, association, attention, repetition, and context. The rest of the book is largely built on these principles. Higbee covers the Link and Story, Loci, Peg, and Phonetic mnemonic systems. Enough detail for each is given that, with practice, the reader can master them for memorizing things such as to-dos, names and faces, speeches, concrete facts, dates, and numbers. He tantalizingly mentions that they can also be used for memorizing material beyond facts and figures, such as abstract concepts, but fails to provide more than cursory instructions on how to do so. The instructions to substitute abstract words and ideas for concrete ones are well taken, but insufficient information is given on how to systemically apply memorization techniques while reading a history book, for example. Higbee also describes the synergy obtained combining some of these mnemonic systems.
I would recommend this book as a good starting place but with the proviso that it is not a workbook. Higbee himself stresses that efficiency in these techniques only comes with hard work and practice - but you will have to provide your own homework. It is also important to keep in mind that these techniques will not magically create a photographic memory (the existence of which Higbee largely dispels) nor will they prevent you from ever forgetting anything again. What you will get are processes for *improving* the chances of recalling needed information.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2005
This book is biased towards visual mnemonics. I think this is fine because the author is a published researcher of visual mnemonics. He gives advice for when AND when not to use visual mnemonics. This is extremely helpful.
He does cover a range of other methods though, including SQ3R. But the most impressive thing is the use of good solid science to back it all up.
I like visual mnemonics because they work like magic. In qualifying his statements about the use of visual mnemonics, Higbee does his writing great credit.
As far as helping me, the book has been of great use to me in my A levels, degree, and Masters. But more worthy is that he has helped me enjoy learning in any context. I apply the principles rather than just the techniques.