Actress and memory whiz Henner (Wear Your Life Well: Use What You Have to Get What You Want, 2009, etc.) unveils the secrets to unlocking the hidden recesses of the mind.
The author’s awe-inspiring memory skills, profiled in an episode of 60 Minutes, have eclipsed the fame she won for her portrayal of Elaine Nardo on the beloved TV sitcom Taxi. Despite realizing from an early age that she processed memory differently than other people, Henner didn’t know there was a name for her superlative powers of recollection until she began working with researchers at the University of California, Irvine. There, she learned that she is one of a very small number of people classified with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory. The average person can recall up to 11 events from each year of their life; Henner remembers—in precise detail—every day of her life since the age of 12. By sharing her ability, Henner writes, readers will be able to “use these lessons to transform your memory, your past, and ultimately, your future.” Blending anecdotes from her personal life and career with scientific data and exercises designed to trigger specific types of memories, the author guides readers on a tour through their past. Henner forgoes typical approaches like mnemonics, place pegs and memory palaces. One test stimulates the olfactory nerves to turn up sense memories; another asks readers to revisit their 21st birthdays to uncover the different ways they archive memories. As the text progresses, Henner skillfully demonstrates how memories can help readers process their past, direct their present and shape their future. Other useful chapters address how to effectively record events in a journal and the ways parents can help their children preserve memories. Henner’s enthusiasm is infectious, though the number of exclamation points may distract some readers.
An effective memory manual with an unusual approach.