5 Best Books to Make You a Learning & Memory NINJA

Let’s face it: No one these days has a 50-year career in just one job/position/company anymore.

Technology is changing rapidly and work positions, industries, entire fields of work are appearing and disappearing faster than ever.

Which means if you want to not just survive but THRIVE in the new economy(economies?), you want to turn yourself into the consummate learner.

That way, no matter where you go or what life throws at you, you have the ability to adjust, regroup, and ultimately succeed.

And lucky for us, there are STRATEGIES & PRINCIPLES to learning and memorization that have been honed over the years by specialists. Specialists who have chosen to share their knowledge and experience with us in the following books…


Ultralearning by Scott H Young

Ultralearning by Scott H Young

“Beyond principles and tactics is a broader [ethos] of taking responsibility for your own learning: deciding what you want to learn, how you want to learn it, and crafting your own plan” — Ultralearning

Ever since he taught himself the entire four-year MIT computer science curriculum in ONE year, Scott H Young has been a writer and teacher to watch.

In his book, Ultralearning, Young seeks out other self-motivated learners like himself and extracts principles for designing your own learning projects. His collection of true stories, combined with the ultralearning framework he presents in the book will accelerate your ability to take on new skills and bodies of knowledge.

He presents six principles for ultralearning, and dives deep into each one, giving inspirational examples from real life: for example, polyglot Benny Lewis (of Fluent in 3 Months), Roger Craig (who won $77K on Jeopardy for his trivia knowledge), Steve Pavlina (who completed his computer science and math degrees in three semesters), and many more.

In other words: if you’re a learning geek like myself, you are going to adore this book! Worth not only a read, but a regular re-read every few years or so 🙂

The Memory Book by Lorayne & Lucas

The Memory Book by Lorayne & Lucas

“You can remember any new piece of information if it is associated to something you already know or remember.”— The Memory Book

The Memory Book is the most practical book I’ve read on training your memory. Granted, it’s a very specific type of memory (discrete, concrete pieces of information, such as names, dates, texts, card order, and the like), and the book doesn’t cover comprehension or fluid intelligence, but you’d be surprised how useful it can be to learn the techniques for memorizing a deck of cards.

Sounds like a party trick, but you can actually adapt the same principles for far more useful purposes — in my case, I used what I learned from this book to memorize 2,000 vocabulary words in a new language in just a few months. It takes some effort to get used to at first, but once you understand the principles, it can really shortcut your learning process.

In this book, Lorayne & Lucas cover the most basic Memory Palace technique, but there’s so much more in here that I can’t summarize in a few paragraphs. Either way, if you’re interested in improving your memory (which is one of the first steps toward learning), I highly recommend this book!

You Can Have an Amazing Memory by Dominic O’Brien

You Can Have an Amazing Memory by Dominic

“Let your imagination, the key to learning and memory, unleash [your] brain power” — You Can Have an Amazing Memory

Have you ever heard of the famous story about the Greek poet Simonides of Ceos, who memorized the seating positions of guests at a dinner party and was thus able to identify their mangled-beyond-recognition bodies when the roof of the building collapsed, and he alone survived?

Crazy story, huh? According to the Roman orator, Cicero, Simonides used the Method of Loci (also known as the Memory Palace) to accomplish this memory feat. And this is the crux of the memory techniques used by memory athletes (yep, there really is such a thing) to memorize multiple decks of cards, numbers, names, and more.

You Can Have an Amazing Memory is written by just such a multiple-time memory sports champion — Dominic O’Brien has trained his memory for decades and has even been tossed out of casinos from the east to west coast because his ability to memorize cards cost the casinos too much (haha!).

And in this book, O’Brien tells his story: how he started out as a child with dyslexia, how he trained himself to be a memory champion, and the techniques he uses to memorize incredible amounts of information. Definitely a book you won’t want to miss.

Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer

Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer

“Life seems to speed up as we get older because life gets less memorable as we get older.”— Moonwalking With Einstein

Moonwalking With Einstein is a look at memory sports from an outside journalist’s perspective. Like the two other memory-focused books mentioned above, Foer discusses actual memory sport techniques, including the famous Memory Palace/Method of Loci strategy. But he brings more of a storytelling spin to the concept, which makes this book much more entertaining/enjoyable than other memory technique tomes.

In this book, Foer attempts to follow savants and memory champions, and ends up getting pulled into the memory sports world himself, competing and winning his own competition after being trained by a veteran of the memory competition circuit.

Between discussing his own experiences following around memory champions and training to be one himself, Foer tells stories of unusual memory cases (people who could not forget anything, and people who forgot everything), scientific studies on memory, and the history of memorization starting from ancient Greece. It’s a fascinating read.

The important thing to remember is that memory loss with age may be normal, but not NATURAL. In other words, people lose their memories not because they have to but because they don’t keep working on it. And if you’re interested in keeping up your memory, make sure you read this book! (And the others on this list)

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

“Although talent feels and looks predestined, in fact we have a good deal of control over what skills we develop, and we have more potential than we might ever presume to guess.” —The Talent Code

Daniel Coyle is one of the best nonfiction writers I’ve read, and The Talent Code is potentially life-changing for readers who are ready to consider and apply the principles inside.

In The Talent Code, Coyle consolidates years of research involving elite performers in fields like music, soccer, tennis, and more. Everyone knows of masters like Tiger Woods (golfer) and Isaac Stern (violinist), even pop idols — but few know the principles they used to achieve mastery.

It isn’t sheer talent, or a good dose of luck. It involves a little white substance inside your brain, called myelin, which grows and helps sharpen your mind when you do something Coyle calls “deep practice.”

To learn more about myelin, deep practice, and the inspiring stories of teachers and students who work hard each day to reach the top of their craft, check out Daniel Coyle’s Talent Code!

And by the way — If you’re interested in learning and excelling as a team, check out Coyle’s other book, The Culture Code.


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