Skip to main content

Book Review: Moonwalking with Einstein by Josh Foer

Journalist Josh Foer went to the U.S. Memory Championships to cover the event and write an article about it. But after meeting the competitors and learning more about what they do, Foer decided to train for the next year's championship. He won.

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything is Foer's memoir of that year. He takes us with him as he learns to hone his memory skills in such a way that he can memorize a deck of cards, or sets of faces and names, or long strings of random numbers, or unknown poems ~ each in just a few minutes. He does this by using memory palaces, which are basically places in his mind (usually houses and other buildings) into which he places each of the items he needs to remember. Then he can walk through that palace in his mind, and see everything on the list.

This isn't a how-to book, though. All of the negative reviews I've seen about this book are from people who go into it thinking they're going to learn how to remember better. It's not going to happen. While I expect I could memorize a short grocery list using the technique he outlines ~ and asks the reader to try with him ~ that's probably about it. This is a memoir of his experience, not a self-help book that is going to help you improve your memory.

In addition to telling about his training and all the quirky people he interacted with during that time, Foer also gives some amazing stories of people who have extraordinary natural memory, and others with extreme amnesia. He talks of the history of memory training, and the current lack of education about memory in today's schools.

If you are interested at all in the art of memory through the ages, how people in the past were able to memorize all the stories, songs and poems because there was no written language, and how memory training has evolved over the years, as books and later technology took over the remembering for us, I highly recommend Moonwalking with Einstein. I found it to be a fascinating look at how memory works.

My Rating: 5/5

Watch the author's TED talk:

This review was written based on an ebook copy of Moonwalking with Einstein that I purchased.


  1. I saw a book recently that I think uses the same technique you talk about here. The author envisioned a house and he went room by room and remembered the rug meant this and the table meant this and the door meant this, etc. Sounds fascinating!

  2. This was one of those books I meant to pick up last year and didn't. Thanks for the review, I will try to fit that one in this year!


Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Popular posts from this blog

Getting back to blogging

It seems that blogging has dropped to the bottom of my list for the past year, and was pretty low for the year or two prior to that. I love to read, and am continuing to do so, but as my regular readers know I haven't been around much. My last blog post was almost a year ago!!

There are many things that have taken me away from blogging. Work has been much more challenging and interesting these past few years, but that means I really don't want to get back on the computer when I get home at night - or on the weekends.

Family life has been more busy with kids having multiple activities in the evenings, leaving little time to just hang out and write about the books that I read.

I will admit to a bit of a Facebook addiction, which means way too much time spent scrolling through my newsfeed instead of doing something more productive. This is one of the things I'm working on and hoping that this will free up some time for getting back to the blog.

Overall, life is good. Work is …

Book Review: The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett

Peter Byerly is distraught over the loss of his wife nine months ago. He has retreated to their cottage in the English countryside, hoping to return to his love of collecting and restoring rare books. But when he opens a book about Shakespeare forgeries and finds a Victorian watercolor of a woman who looks just like his wife, Peter is soon on a search for the origin of the painting and the truth about Shakespeare's real identity.

The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett is a wonderful journey for anyone who loves books. It follows Peter's search in 1995, which turns into a bit of a thriller at times. But Lovett also takes the reader back in time a bit so we can learn the story of his relationship with his wife and how he came to be a bookseller. He does a beautiful job of expressing Peter's feelings about the rare books he encounters, and his feelings are contagious.

And then he takes us back even further to the history of one particular volume, whos…

Banned Books Week: Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park

This is the end of Banned Books Week and unfortunately, I haven't had a lot of time to write about banned books this year. But I did want to include at least one post about it, so today I wanted to share one of the book series that it seems most people are surprised to find on the list: Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park.

According to Wikipedia:
The Junie B. Jones series came in at #71 on the American Library Association's list of the Top 100 Banned or Challenged Books from 2000-2009. Reasons cited are poor social values taught by the books and Junie B. Jones not being considered a good role model due to her mouthiness and bad spelling/grammar. This is an interesting example of a banned book. Many times there are serious, controversial topics featured in books that are challenged. Things like homosexuality, drugs, vulgar language, etc. You can actually understand why people may not want their children to read those books, and why they may challenge their inclusion in school libra…