Read in Dec 2017
Book by Kevin Horsley
I picked this up as a refresher on memory techniques since I've accumulated a few frequently used checklists I'd like to build memory structures for. This is a quick read, but fairly mediocre writing with a lack of focus. Instead of focusing exclusively on memory techniques, the author periodically indulges in his personal philosophy on productivity, habits, and life. Given that he's managed to compress a series of topics and that I (somewhat) got out of it what I came for, I forgive him—but this would be better if focused entirely on memory.
There are several topics I wish he would've dived into, e.g. tools to help build these techniques into a consistent habit, such as exercises (or an app). I'd like to have known more about how this is useful day-to-day, e.g. if I'm using the same memory palace today as yesterday, it's still cluttered. Do I clean it, or do I have a few for every day of the weak? What about permanent structures? I'd like to see a success story of someone who's not a World Memory Champion (for which I have no interest), but who uses these techniques daily (checklists, grocery lists, names, numbers). There must be a point where you hit diminishing returns, e.g. I'm interested in being able to remember my passport number, credit card number, and phone numbers easily, but I'm OK to do that in 30 seconds, not a second (like a champion) or many minutes (where I am now). The book, as a result, feels like a braindump of personal philosophy and memory techniques. If he'd sat down and thought about his audience, this could've been a fantastic 100-page book for anyone.
The first chapter is about how memory is underrated and that it should be at our fingertips to readily make complex connections across topics. However, the author doesn't do this defense justice by losing focus on the pragmatic in favour of other digressions.
That said, a good takeaway is that 'memory is a habit'. How we incorporate a new piece of information in with everything else is a habit, and if we can strengthen that habit, we'll compound knowledge faster. This is a great insight. Or, as the author repeatedly brings up, if we keep doing what we're doing, why would we expect new results (relating to memory)?