I am really, really, really excited about Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, which, I gather, is about to make Joshua Foer the Malcolm Gladwell of 2012.
I haven't finished it yet. Actually, I've only read the Kindle sample so far, since I was debating whether or not I can afford more trendy nonfiction geared more toward boosting my self-esteem than to actually improving my performance. There are, presumably, other, more boring books about how to memorize information that would actually help more.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Foer's book, which you absolutely must familiarize yourself with if you want to appear hep to the zeitgeist of the Teenies (I've decided I need to get in on the ground floor in naming the current decade), is about how he stumbled into the world of competitive high-speed memorization, and, only a year into his new hobby, became the US champion in the sport.
It's beautifully written, and Foer shows a true journalist's disregard for people's feelings in the fantastic word pictures he uses to describe his fellow competitors and enthusiasts. In much the same way I just did.
Memory athletes utilize mnemonic systems called “memory palaces,” where they mentally assign each number, playing card, word, or other item to a room that is in some way particularly memorable. In Foer's case, his palace is filled with images of celebrities doing disturbing things, thus making each imaginary room unique.
And that's actually all I know, not having read the whole book.