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Joshua Foer's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Joshua Foer recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Joshua Foer's favorite book recommendations of all time.

The Mind of a Mnemonist is a rare phenomenon - a scientific study that transcends its data and, in the manner of the best fictional literature, fashions a portrait of an unforgettable human being." less
Recommended by Joshua Foer, and 1 others.

Joshua FoerThis book created the entire genre of humanistic clinical histories. Without Luria, there could be no Oliver Sacks, the British neurologist who wrote Awakenings. For 30 years, Luria studied a journalist called Solomon Shereshevsky or simply ‘S’. Supposedly, S had a vacuum cleaner memory. He could remember anything. (Source)

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Metaphors of Memory

A History of Ideas about the Mind

What is memory? Without memory we lose our sense of identity, reasoning, even our ability to perform simple physical tasks. Yet it is elusive and difficult to define, and throughout the ages philosophers and psychologists have used metaphors as a way of understanding it. This fascinating book takes the reader on a guided tour of these metaphors of memory from ancient times to the present day, exploring the way metaphors often derived from the techniques and instruments developed to store information such as wax tablets, books, photography, computers and even the hologram. less
Recommended by Joshua Foer, and 1 others.

Joshua FoerThis is a book that should be more widely known. Draaisma is a Dutch historian of psychology and ideas who has written a couple of books about the mind that are filled with wonderfully weird anecdotes and terrific insights. Metaphors of Memory is a history of how we’ve talked about memory over time. Today we talk about photographic memory or digital memory; we analogise our memories to the... (Source)

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Long studied by anthropologists, historians, and linguists, oral traditions have provided a wealth of fascinating insights into unique cultural customs that span the history of humankind. In this groundbreaking work, cognitive psychologist David C. Rubin offers for the first time an accessible, comprehensive examination of what such traditions can tell us about the complex inner workings of human memory. Focusing in particular on their three major forms of organization--theme, imagery, and sound pattern--Rubin proposes a model of recall, and uses it to uncover the mechanisms of memory that... more
Recommended by Joshua Foer, and 1 others.

Joshua FoerThis is such a good book. He applies learning from cognitive science to help us understand oral traditions, stories passed down by word of mouth including The Iliad and The Odyssey. He takes a cross-disciplinary approach. One of the things he writes about is that the ancients understood things about cognition that have only been rediscovered recently. (Source)

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The Book of Memory

Mary Carruthers's classic study of the training and uses of memory for a variety of purposes in European cultures during the Middle Ages has fundamentally changed the way scholars understand medieval culture. This fully revised and updated second edition considers afresh all the material and conclusions of the first. While responding to new directions in research inspired by the original, this new edition devotes much more attention to the role of trained memory in composition, whether of literature, music, architecture, or manuscript books. The new edition will reignite the debate on memory... more
Recommended by Joshua Foer, and 1 others.

Joshua FoerThis is the best study of the role that memory plays in medieval culture. We reserve the term genius for people who are creative, who are innovators, who think in ways that are entirely new. In the middle ages, the term genius was reserved for people with the best memories. That is telling. (Source)

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The Art Of Memory

The ancient Greeks, to whom a trained memory was of vital importance - as it was to everyone before the invention of printing - created an elaborate memory system, based on a technique of impressing 'places' and 'images' on the mind. Inherited and recorded by the Romans, this art of memory passed into the European tradition, to be revived, in occult form, at the Renaissance, and particularly by the strange and remarkable genius, Giordano Bruno.

Such is the main theme of Frances Yates's unique and brilliant book, in the course of which she sheds light on such diverse subjects as...
Recommended by Joshua Foer, and 1 others.

Joshua FoerIt’s the book that started the whole field of academic research into the art of memory. For anyone interested in the subject, it’s the first thing to read. Yates starts with the ancient Greeks and tells the story of how the art of memory began, then went through a number of transformations. In the Middle Ages it became associated with religious remembering. During the Renaissance it got wrapped... (Source)

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