Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Book #54: Moonwalking with Einstein

100 Books My College Students Assigned Me:
Book #54 Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything.

This book is so amazingly awesome, I can hardly bear it.

You need to read it, especially if you have a brain or work/live/etc with people who might have brains.

 This book is the story of a man who decides to become a mental athlete and compete in the US Memory Championship and tries to figure out how to train for the big games.

At first I think I don't need this book. I can remember what I ate on a Tuesday in Boulder in 1991 and what I was wearing and reading that day. I can remember student handwriting, looks, glances and what shoes they wore years later. I remember everything, tiny and huge, except for the things I choose to forget.

I'm not looking to really learn how to remember things, I just want to read a good smart book, so I dive in.

Fifteen pages into the book I peek back to see what student assigned it to me and I know her name right away. She's something, a yoga-ing Latina with aura of fierceness and passion, tempered by wisdom and patience

Here's a small list of questions you will find yourself  VERY interested in after reading this book:

  • When did memory begin? 
  • How does memory affect perception of time?
  • How do we create ourselves and our world by the memories we hold on to and the ones we forget?
  • How did writing affect communal and individual memory? 
  • Why was Soctrates against writing?
  • Is memory internal or external? 
  • Is memory a skill? a talent? an art? 
  • Why do some people never remember, why do some people never forget?
  • What impact does it have on people today that they can access communal external memory? 

The review on the back cover is an endorsement by the funny-smart-shocking-author Mary Roach (the author of BONK who taught me the similarity between sinus tissue swelling and penis tissue swelling) says "You have to love a writer who employs chick sexting to help explain human memory. Foer is a charmer, a cracking mine, a fresh wind."

 I can't agree more. I'd add to the accolades that this book accessible, engaging, relevant and important. 

This book is now one of my all time favorites and I will definitely be recommending it for students who say they can't remember things on test day.