Right from the title the book excites you to read what it has memory game it has in store for you… ‘The Art And Science Of Remembering Things’ .
The book provides a first hand experience of a journalist Joshua Foer while covering the USA memory championship. He covers the scientific basis of memory creation and historical attitudes towards memory. He discovers a form of the method of loci, in which data is stored in a sequence of memorable images that can be translated back into their original form. This form has various methods of remembering things like :
1. The techniques of Roman rhetoricians
2. The Tannaim (“reciters”) of Judea,
3. The Major System
4. The PAO System for memorizing numbers and cards
5. Mind Mapping , a note-taking technique developed by Tony Buzan.
During Joshua’s journey, we are also introduced to various memory champions like Kim Peek ( the protagonist of the movie Rain Man) , Danniel Tammet, Ben Pridmore.
Talking to so many people at the championship he too decides to try using the techniques of memory and under the guidance of Ed Cooke. He practices traditional memory techniques for a year and finally wins the 2006 USA Memory Championship , breaking the U.S. record in speed cards.
He further goes on to represent the US at the World Memory Championships in London, placing thirteenth and winning bronze in the “Names and Faces” event, but failing to become a Grand Master of Memory.
The below lines summarize the book in my favorite form ‘A Poem’.
We say they have a gifted mind,
therefore they can retain so much inside.
But Joshua clears the air around,
And shows how he won all the US memory championship rounds.
As a journalist he started to cover the game,
And before he knew he was on his journey to memory castle and the mind lane,
He was startled how everyone knew the deck of cards,
And like a nursery rhyme they spell it all
They saw the projections with thousands of slides
And created a replication of the pictures in their minds.
He talks about the 87 point IQ of Kim Peek,
And Daniel’s whose calculations were at finger tips.
Tamer and Ben explain him the magic of retention,
And that is how Joshua learns about the brain through his varied sessions.
Caught in the dilemma of confusion and curiosity in the heart
He decides to check for himself if these theories would last.
He stepped up to participate in the championship,
And with all the mind games tried taking a career flip.
He worked hard and used all the tricks,
And before he knew he was among the top picks.
Competing with the best in the world,
Joshua finally a winner he emerged .