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Learn to Remember
Learn to Remember, Transform Your Memory Skills, is the latest book by Dominic O'Brien. Regulars to the site will have read my reviews on Dominic's previous books but for those of you who are new to these pages, Dominic O'Brien is the current World Memory Champion (a title he has won 6 times) and one of the people who inspired me to compete in the World Championships. Indeed I used the DOMINIC system as my strategy in the Competition. So the important thing to know about this book is that it is written by someone who definitely knows what he is talking about.
Dominic's two previous books How to Develop a Perfect Memory and How to Pass Exams were published in soft black and white paperback. Although full of extremely valuable information they were maybe a little hard going on the eyes and perhaps a little too technical. By comparison, Learn to Remember is much different. It has a nice feel to the cover when you pick it up and as you quickly scan through it you immediately notice stimulatingly colourful pages and an abundance of tastefully relevant pictures and graphics.
Okay it looks and feels good, but has it got substance? Well, I am pleased to tell you that it has. Writing a good book on memory is difficult to do and generally most of the books you will find on the bookshelves are either too theoretical with long scientific descriptions of the constitution of the brain, or too technical with complicated and convoluted descriptions of sophisticated memory systems that appear to be written in English but nevertheless can't be understood. Learn to Remember beautifully balances the need for some background information on the brain with practical advice on how to improve your memory.
The first half of the book is a very interesting read just for someone who is curious about memory. It has a historical perspective (memory techniques are not a recent invention) and a very good section on the brain. Those familiar with learning and memory theory will recognise some of the standard knowledge such as the brain's structure and the Left/Right brain information but more recent knowledge about brain waves (a significant contributor to Dominic's ongoing and continued success) and sleep patterns.
The Memory Improvement Section develops the argument that memory can be improved and Dominic highlights his guiding principles as the power of Imagination, Association and Location. I love his statement about memory being an art form and that cultivation of his guiding principles together with the art of Concentration, Recall and Observation will improve your memory without the need to rely on any specific technique. Of course the specific memory techniques (which can be very off-putting to those who just have a passing interest in improving their memory) come later in the book but just reading the first half will provide great advice.
And then we come onto the specific techniques. Dominic avoids overwhelming the reader with complex descriptions of memory systems and provides just enough detail of a wide repertoire to dramatically increase your ability. In addition to his own DOMINIC system, Dominic also talks about the more familiar use of mnemonics, Peg systems, the Story Method, his extensive use of the journey system and of course my favourite - the Mind Map. It is refreshing to see a specialist memory book refer to the Mind Map as it is an invaluable aid to memory and I believe any book that ignores it is really missing a vital tool. Many of these systems have everyday practical use and the final part of the book looks at how to overcome some of the challenges we regularly face such as remembering names and faces.
Overall I like this book very much, not only for its refreshing approach and valuable content but also for its look and feel. I'd certainly recommend this to anyone who is interested in improving their memory but it would also make a great gift because it is such a delightful book and such an interesting read. Buy it!!
Learn to Remember, Transform Your Memory Skills by Dominic O'Brien is available from good bookstores, real and virtual, priced Ł9.99. Its ISBN Number is 1-900131-93-5.
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Silver Medallist in the World Memory Championships.
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4th March 1998: