So as I walk in, I'm thinking This is dumb. Who puts an art gallery in a sporting goods store? But as I walk out, I'm paying for $40 bucks of tube socks and ch– What? Book? Oh, right. Moonwalking with Einstein. OK, yeah, I can talk about that.
Some folks are competitive memorizers. They build memory palaces, design mnemonics. And then they get together for contests: who can memorize the most decks of cards in two minutes? Who can memorize this random poem best in a few minutes? This book is about these people. I already had learned a bit about memory palaces and other mnemonic techniques, so this part of the book dragged for me; it might for you. A bit of the book was kind of like Word Freak: journalist finds out about geeky contest,
becomes a Shao Lin monk and trains really hard, becomes a viable competitor, meets interesting geeks, writes about it. And there's also a bit about scientists who study memory. (I'm not the only one to notice this: the author of Word Freak has a blurb on the back of Moonwalking with Einstein)I think if I hadn't already known anything about memory palace stuff, I would have liked this book plenty. Since I was already kinda sick of hearing about that stuff, though, I found myself drifting. But there is other stuff in here, good stuff. Brain-damaged folks with interesting memories. Daniel "Brainman" Tammet's history of fraud (which leads to some fun back-and-forth in Tammet's wikipedia article edits). The changing role of memorization with the advent of writing and the printing press. If you aren't already sick of hearing about memory palaces, check it out.