Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ Free Shipping
Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything Paperback – February 28, 2012
|New from||Used from|
See the Best Books of 2017 So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year so far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Amazon Best Books of the Month, March 2011: Moonwalking with Einstein follows Joshua Foer's compelling journey as a participant in the U.S. Memory Championship. As a science journalist covering the competition, Foer became captivated by the secrets of the competitors, like how the current world memory champion, Ben Pridmore, could memorize the exact order of 1,528 digits in an hour. He met with individuals whose memories are truly unique—from one man whose memory only extends back to his most recent thought, to another who can memorize complex mathematical formulas without knowing any math. Brains remember visual imagery but have a harder time with other information, like lists, and so with the help of experts, Foer learned how to transform the kinds of memories he forgot into the kind his brain remembered naturally. The techniques he mastered made it easier to remember information, and Foer's story demonstrates that the tricks of the masters are accessible to anyone.
Author Q&A with Joshua Foer
Q: First, can you explain the title of you book, Moonwalking with Einstein?
A: The title refers to a memory device I used in the US Memory Championship—specifically it's a mnemonic that helped me memorize a deck of playing cards. Moonwalking with Einstein works as a mnemonic because it's such a goofy image. Things that are weird or colorful are the most memorable. If you try to picture Albert Einstein sliding backwards across a dance floor wearing penny loafers and a diamond glove, that's pretty much unforgettable.
Q: What are the U.S. Memory Championships? How did you become involved?
A: The U.S. Memory Championship is a rather bizarre contest held each spring in New York City, in which people get together to see who can remember the most names of strangers, the most lines of poetry, the most random digits. I went to the event as a science journalist, to cover what I assumed would be the Super Bowl of savants. But when I talked to the competitors, they told me something really interesting. They weren't savants. And they didn't have photographic memories. Rather, they'd trained their memories using ancient techniques. They said anyone could do it. I was skeptical. Frankly, I didn't believe them. I said, well, if anyone can do it, could you teach me? A guy named Ed Cooke, who has one of the best trained memories in the world, took me under his wing and taught me everything he knew about memory techniques. A year later I came back to the contest, this time to try and compete, as a sort of exercise in participatory journalism. I was curious simply to see how well I'd do, but I ended up winning the contest. That really wasn't supposed to happen.
Q: What was the most surprising thing you found out about yourself competing in the Memory Championships?
A: In the process of studying these techniques, I learned something remarkable: that there's far more potential in our minds than we often give them credit for. I'm not just talking about the fact that it's possible to memorize lots of information using memory techniques. I'm talking about a lesson that is more general, and in a way much bigger: that it's possible, with training and hard work, to teach oneself to do something that might seem really difficult.
Q: Can you explain the "OK Plateau?"
A: The OK Plateau is that place we all get to where we just stop getting better at something. Take typing, for example. You might type and type and type all day long, but once you reach a certain level, you just never get appreciably faster at it. That's because it's become automatic. You've moved it to the back of your mind's filing cabinet. If you want to become a faster typer, it's possible, of course. But you've got to bring the task back under your conscious control. You've got to push yourself past where you're comfortable. You have to watch yourself fail and learn from your mistakes. That's the way to get better at anything. And it's how I improved my memory.
Q: What do you mean by saying there an "art" to memory?
A: The "art of memory" refers to a set of techniques that were invented in ancient Greece. These are the same techniques that Cicero used to memorize his speeches, and that medieval scholars used to memorize entire books. The "art" is in creating imagery in your mind that is so unusual, so colorful, so unlike anything you've ever seen before that it's unlikely to be forgotten. That's why mnemonists like to say that their skills are as much about creativity as memory.
Q: How do you think technology has affected how and what we remember?
A: Once upon a time people invested in their memories, they cultivated them. They studiously furnished their minds. They remembered. Today, of course, we've got books, and computers and smart phones to hold our memories for us. We've outsourced our memories to external devices. The result is that we no longer trust our memories. We see every small forgotten thing as evidence that they're failing us altogether. We've forgotten how to remember.
Q: What is the connection between memory and our sense of time?
A: As we get older, life seems to fly by faster and faster. That's because we structure our experience of time around memories. We remember events in relation to other events. But as we get older, and our experiences become less unique, our memories can blend together. If yesterday's lunch is indistinguishable from the one you ate the day before, it'll end up being forgotten. That's why it's so hard to remember meals. In the same way, if you're not doing things that are unique and different and memorable, this year can come to resemble the last, and end up being just as forgettable as yesterday's lunch. That's why it's so important to pack your life with interesting experiences that make your life memorable, and provide a texture to the passage of time.
Q: How is your memory now?
A: Ironically, not much better than when I started this whole journey. The techniques I learned, and used in the memory contest, are great for remembering structured information like shopping lists or phone numbers, but they don't improve any sort of underlying, generalizable memory ability. Unfortunately, I still misplace my car keys.
(Photo of Joshua Foer © Emil Salman Haaretz)
If you sometimes can't remember where you put your car keys or, like Foer, the car itself, don't panic. You're not alone, and you can do something about it. In this intriguing look at the nature of memory, Foer reassures us that we don't need to acquire a better memory; we just need to use the one we have more effectively. Foer introduces us to people whose memories are both astonishing, like the man who could memorize 1,528 random digits in order, and frightening, such as a man with such an extreme case of amnesia that he doesn't know his own age and can't remember that he has a memory problem. He explores various ways in which we test our memories, such as the extensive training British cabbies must undergo. He also discusses ways we can train ourselves to have better memories, like the PAO system, in which, for example, every card in a deck is associated with an image of a specific person, action, or object. An engaging, informative, and for the forgetful, encouraging book. --David Pitt --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top customer reviews
The book follows the journey of Joshua Foer, who as a journalist writing for several publications (although I forget which one at the time he was writing for), as he is covering the Memory Championships that are being held in the United States. Now, if you haven't heard of the Memory Championships, you aren't the only one as I was completely clueless as to what was going on in the description, but after Foer details what goes on in these Memory challenges, you can't help but be curious as to how and what it looks like. Events like speed cards, remembering names and faces, random words and digits are standard fare, and while daunting to the passerby, these competitors flourish and show remarkable capability for memory. Foer becomes involved with the Memory Scene and meets several people who have taken part in Memory Championships and takes on a challenge to compete in the Championship in the following year. What follows in the book is an incredible journey into the history of Memory and how it can be a huge help or hindrance, and how one is able to achieve such a memory.
The book has many interesting aspects to it and the way that Foer writes makes it all palpable and enjoyable. You get a mix of methodology, history, science, and case studies.
The whole system for these incredible memories, however, can all be explained by the Method of Loci which is said to be first introduced by Simonides of ancient Greece. Loci is the ability to take different, familiar places that you have been to, and place objects there that you can associate to what you want to remember. It's like a visualized road map which you can follow from point to point and, at each point, will be someone, something, etc. Just this part at the beginning of the book was fascinating to me, as I have never heard or read anything like this. It all seems so simple, yet can be so detailed and useful when you practice it.
Another section of the book that was enjoyable was Foer attempts to get even better with regards to his memory. In his training for the Championship, he had hit a wall and was struggling to surpass times in his practice for certain events. After speaking with several people, he discovers that he just needs to push himself harder with deliberate practice, to make himself go faster, in order to get better. He is trying to get off, as it is termed in the book, the "OK Plateau." This is the key part of the book for me personally. I am very intrigued with Performance Psychology and what makes people get into certain mindsets in order to perform, or perform better than they had been. This section gave me a first hand look at this process that I have seen in any other book to date.
To conclude with a final thought, what's great about the book is that while you can consider it a "Self-Help" book, you can also just see it as a great story with tidbits that you can pick along the way which you may consider helpful for yourself. It's not a carbon copy self-help that you see in so many other books. The Secret to doing this, or How to do that, blah, blah, blah, they all have the same steps, but very few provide a context, or an interesting road to get there. It all comes off as demanding and just a check list of things to do, and they are just not that much fun to read. They become more like a chore, more of "I need to" instead of "I want to." That's not what you'll find in this book.
So, should you read this book? Well, just from a story standpoint, yes, I would say that the story here is good enough for you to want to pick up this book. Does the book solely focus on Foer going nothing to the championship in a year? No, there is a lot of side information about memory, brains, how people are affected by their own memories and other people Foer comes across. But even with all that, it is all very interesting and cool to know and read about. You can think of this book as a documentary like King of Kong in print. It's a fun read.
The author notes more than once that is very important for us to be mindful of the world around us and also how significant our worldly perceptions are. Anyone can train their brain with time and commitment. “Remembering can only happen if you take notice.”
This book kept me interested until the last page. If you want to learn memory tricks, this is a good first book as it takes you step by step through the methods that have worked for centuries.
but it is written for the lay person .. me and it flows easily ... here I go at 78 learning new and important memory info