I finally finished reading "Moonwalking with Einstein” by Joshua Foer, where he documents his quest to win the US Memory Championship (even though the quest starts out with a less ambitious goal). It was a very easy to read and contained a lot of interesting facts. For one, I had no idea that memorization was such a big part of life in ancient times. When you think about it, it makes sense – many people didn’t know how to read and those who did couldn’t afford to own every book. But I never really thought about it.
Joshua also explores the status of memorization in various spheres of life today, from the Memory Championships and those who participate in them, to scientists who study memory, to educators who debate its role in education. He describes several past and present memory savants and even accuses one of them of being a well-trained mnemonist. Overall, it’s a worthwhile and entertaining read.
Earlier, I wrote about using the memory techniques in this book to memorize all the countries in the world. I made it through all of Central/South America and 2/3 of Africa. The techniques work really well. But you have to be motivated to use them. And, as the author discusses in the book, we live in a world where memorization is mostly unnecessary. Although I may try to use it to memorize names of people I just met.