It is that time again, and I know you are excited, because it is Scott Drotar Literary Review Day! This week I am going to discuss a book that I have read several times, and the results I have gained from it have made my life so much easier. This self-improvement book is something that we can all benefit from, because it focuses on a skill that everyone uses everyday, your ability to remember things. Whether it be remembering a grocery list, the names of potential clients at a trade convention, or memorizing a speech, all of us have things we need to remember, and most of us wish we were better at doing so. In his book, “Your Memory: How It Works and How To Improve It,” Kenneth Higbee provides us with numerous methods for improving your memory and thusly simplifying your life.
I have read several books on improving your memory and mnemonic techniques over the years, as being a graduate student there is a lot to remember, but this is the one that I repeatedly go back to when I want to refamiliarize myself with some of these methods. The author first provides some great background information about how your brain works when it comes to organizing, storing, and recalling information. I found this not only interesting from a psychological viewpoint, but in having an understanding of how your memory operates, I found it much easier for me to grasp and apply the mnemonic devices he presents in the second portion of the book. After laying this cognitive groundwork, Higbee goes on to present more than half a dozen different mnemonic methods for remembering different types of information from numbers to names and faces to random objects in a list. He presents these techniques in a specific order that makes it much easier to quickly and effectively apply each technique, because the strategies build on each other and can even be combined for certain situations. For example, you can combine the technique for remembering faces and names with the method for remembering factual information to construct a mental profile for anyone you meet. This would allow you to not only easily recall someone’s name when you see them, but also that they are married with 2 kids and love dogs.
His writing style is very accessible and easy to read. He doesn’t go into a lot of detail about the cognitive processes behind these techniques, but unless you are a psychologist this is not an issue, and it may even be a good thing for many readers. Higbee provides numerous examples of how he has seen these mnemonics used for various types of information, and he also gives you several ways to practice these techniques so that you can most efficiently learn to use them in your life. That is something he stresses in the book, and I will reiterate it here because it is so crucial to successfully using these techniques, that you must exercise your memory and practice these mnemonic methods in order to gain anything from them. With a little practice however, I am sure you will be as amazed as I was at how fast your memory improves, and how much you can actually remember when you know how to mentally organize information.
If you have ever thought to yourself, “I have a terrible memory.” or “I’m terrible with names and faces.” you should read this book. Even if you think that your memory is fine, it could always be better, and this self-improvement gem is the way to improve it. In preparing for my Roll Models talks, I use several of the mnemonic devices found in this book to remember not only the message I want to convey, but also the emotional state I need to be in, the tempo and tone of my voice, facial expressions, and a million other things. Without these strategies I would have to spend probably twice as much time and effort to prepare my talks. I am living proof that if you follow the instructions in this book and practice the techniques, that your memory will improve exponentially. For that reason, I give this masterpiece a 5 out of 5 on the Roll Models Review Scale.