Unlimited Memory: How to Use Advanced Learning Strategies to Learn Faster, Remember More and be More Productive
By Kevin Horsley, Grandmaster of Memory
Pub date: 2014
AMBER LOVE 22-DEC-2020 This review is a courtesy provided TCK Publishing. To support this site and my other work, please consider being a monthly donor at Patreon.com/amberunmasked; you can also buy my books through Amazon (or ask your local retailer to order you copies). I’m also an Amazon Influencer so you can shop through my lists of recommended products.
Use a World Memory Record Holder’s strategies to learn faster, be more productive, and achieve more success.
A Little About Me First:
There was a lot to appreciate in Kevin Horsley’s book Unlimited Memory. I had been wanting to get a book on memory tricks for as long as I can remember. Mainly this was due to fictional figures like The Mentalist’s Patrick Jane or Psych’s Shawn Spencer. It’s easy to be the writer and creator someone with fantastic memory recall. It’s not as easy trying to be that great at it without any guidance. Doesn’t every mystery writer long to be as smart as Sherlock Holmes (only with a friendlier disposition)? Then I came across Lincoln Rhyme (the TV version) and he too spend years studying things like the dirt, chemical compounds, botanical life, roadways, transit lines, and literally everything about his city committing all of it to memory.
What made Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) and Shawn Spencer (James Roday Rodriguez) stand out was that they were also skilled con men who could read anyone’s non-verbal communication: body language, the way an office is kept, tattoo placement, hair style, choice in jewelry. I followed that path studying Joe Navarro’s work and interviewing him. I still didn’t have a clue about how to make a memory palace, as some people call the internal visualization of where you craft a memory and place it in an environment of your mental space. There are a lot of books on it. Where the heck would a person begin?
Allow me to preface this review with some personal information. I never considered my memory good. I used sound to cram for tests by having CDs on looping repeat for days while I tried to digest the information. I could test well, I have no idea how because I honestly was not learning. There were a few subjects where I had interest so I paid better attention but only if I had a dynamic, vibrant teacher with a decent personality. I loved Earth Science but had an extremely boring, monotonous teacher who would put the entire class to sleep.
Also, my adult life has been comprised of periods on and off psychiatric medication, pain medication, and even allergy medication. I’m pretty sure chemicals of any kind can destroy brain cells as that’s what I’ve been taught by science articles and teachers. Then I got interested into neuroscience. I took workshops on trauma and read a bunch of books and articles. There has been a shift in how science now sees traumatic memories and how to safely recall them, if it’s necessary at all. It might not be. Some things may genuinely be best forgotten in my opinion. Therefore, when it comes to this conversation about memory and what our brains can do, I will specifically leave trauma out of it. If you’re interested, I go into what trauma can do or be caused by in several posts about an abusive relationship.
I also know that people learn differently. That fact might not be mentioned by memory masters. However, there are multiple approaches in Horsley’s book so about the dozen or so covered, maybe one or two will fit into your own needs for learning.
Horsley made this book accessible in terms of it being understandable to a novice, the curious person. There are some images and diagrams so I’m not sure how accessible that is to anyone visually impaired. There is an audio version of Unlimited Memory available though. The contents are in a clearly organized way and broken into three larger parts. It might be tempting to focus on only part two which contains the chapters of “how to” do this wondrous thing of creating memories and recalling them. What’s just as important as part three which emphasizes that doing any of the methods only once is not enough. If you use the Shape Pegs Method which converts numbers into familiar shapes like animals and objects and you figure that out to remember someone’s phone number, creating the plan and looking at it on one day is probably not going to adhere it into your memory until you’ve started to master these skills.
One of the most important principles Horsley covers is The SEE Principle which stands for: Senses, Exaggeration, Energize. This theme carries through the instructions and makes sense. Exaggerating something to the absurd makes it more memorable. It’s kind of like the ridikulus spell in Harry Potter when the children are taught to take something they fear and make it as silly as possible like the spider on roller skates or Professor Snape dressed as a grandmum. Horsley repeats that your imagination and creativity are going to be the most beneficial tools in your toolbox.
Each of chapter has examples for the reader to practice such as learning a clever way to learn the first twelve presidents of the United States. Horsley walks the reader through the process of breaking down the names into things that sound kind of like the syllables and then creates a weird, silly story.
What I did notice which not brought up in any way is that all the masters referenced are men. I think. I know you can’t 100% know based on names. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the methods and how Horsley teaches them. It’s merely an observation as a reader. It’s something I look for in fiction and non-fiction. How is the subject addressed across cultural lines? Across genders? Across people with more privilege than others? Are people with neuro-divergent challenges included?
Not every book is going to cover every possibility, especially not a quick easy read like Horsley’s Unlimited Memory. I only bring it up for anyone who might want something specifically for their learning needs to know that this book seem to be for a neurotypical audience in an environment that fosters creative thinking. Teachers or parents who are looking for ways to foster creative thinking would strongly benefit from this book. I still know how to “sing the alphabet” but I can’t do it backwards. Learning a different way like one of the methods in this, might make something as simple as the alphabet more approachable.
I personally look forward to trying to some of the methods for remembering Yoga information that’s presented in Sanskrit and English and hopefully maybe a couple of emergency phone numbers since I rely solely on my Contacts List.
Rating: 5 stars