“Moonwalking With Einstein” by Joshua Foer

Date finished: 7th March 2012

One of my local reading group books for March was Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer. Foer is a journalist who embarks on a journey to become a “mental athlete” and compete in the annual US Memory Championship. Along the way he looks in to history of memory training and techniques dating back as far as Cicero, as well as the medical background of the brain and memory, meeting amnesiacs and scientists, as well as savants, and explores the impact and meaning of memory in our lives.

I found this book absolutely fascinating. I loved how it mixed the light hearted sections of Foer’s training, with the historical and cultural look at the history of memory training, and the scientific neurological investigations that are being undertaken today to try to understand more about the brain and memory. My favourite part of his journey was when he met a man who had lost his short term memory after a virus destroyed part of his brain, leaving him unable to recall anything earlier than a few seconds before, but whose long term memory from before the illness was fine. It was heartbreaking to read although the man lives a happy life, but the explanation of how it had happened and how the brain works was really interesting. A fantastic book!

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