Book Review: The Memory Book: The Classic Guide to Improving Your Memory

During the weekend, I read The Memory Book: The Classic Guide to Improving Your Memory at Work, at School, and at Play. As the name suggests, the book has techniques to improve your memory, and as someone who is really absent minded, and has a poor memory, I found it quite useful.

I was familiar with some of the techniques mentioned in the book, and while I read the first 100 pages or so I thought this was good material, but was more apt for a 4,000 word essay than a book.

The first few chapters discuss the basics of memory techniques which involve things like creating a story out of the things you want to remember, form a link between them, and I’m quite familiar with those techniques, and have used them in the past with some success. However, the authors improvised on the technique I already knew by their advise of forming truly ridiculous stories and images in your mind, and in the brief time that I’ve used this method – I can say that it works far better than just making plain vanilla stories.

I enjoyed the chapter about absentmindedness quite a bit because I could relate to that quite a bit, and there are several times when I open the fridge, and stare at it not remembering what I wanted to take out. Their advise of being “originally aware” and visualizing what you’re planning to do is quite effective, but the hard part is to remember that you have to visualize everything!

Up until this point, I thought that the book was good, but all this material could be easily condensed into a longish article, and was probably not enough material for a whole book.

The next few chapters changed my opinion as they introduced me to something I wasn’t aware of, and what I feel is a very powerful memory technique if you learn to apply it.

These are to do with remembering long string of numbers like say 432780370182733. The technique is assigning a phonetic sound to each number, and then learning to build words and phrases using these phonetic sounds, and then transposing the words back to numbers to recall the original number.

This is quite an involved method, and will probably take months of constant practice to master, and I think it will take at least a month or so to become so proficient so as to make this practical.

Whether all this work is worth it to learn a technique to remember numbers that can be easily stored in your smart phone?

I don’t know the answer to that for you.

But for me, I’ll try the technique for a month, and if I can master it in that time, I’ll continue using it, else I will probably move on to something else.

I’m happy to say that I have already memorized some of my credit card numbers using this technique; something I wanted to do for years, but found very hard.

Other chapters that I liked were the technique of remembering names and faces, and if I can master that then that will definitely be a very useful thing to have learned.

Overall, I quite recommend The Memory Book, and it is a useful read for everyone who wants some techniques to improve their memory and willing to put some work in it.

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