Even though this book was on my soon-to-read list, Mark beat me to it and reviewed it already. I’m glad that he did, as he has been propagating the memory palace idea in our discussions lately, and it spurred me on to read it sooner than I would have. Drew also reviewed it. I’m last on this.
The book is more of an overview of memory history rather than specific techniques to help readers improve our own memorizing. Although through the narrative of having Foer report on memory and eventually winning the U.S. Memory Championship, he discusses many little tricks along the way. These were helpful in my own thinking about memory. I also found some of the case studies of memory prodigies and memory-deficit people particularly fascinating.
Foer is overly critical and insulting about Tony Buzan, the granddaddy of memory techniques, an aspect about the book that I found to be mean and ungracious, as Buzan seemed kind enough to grant him an interview. I also am hesitant about how ingrained Foer is within his own story here. Unlike another similar journalist-becomes-subject account Born to Run, Foer borders on self-serving.
While it starts to feel too long toward the end, I really did enjoyed reading this. It helped me to think more about memory and how I can memorize more Scripture and poetry. Maybe even a deck of cards or two.