Book Review: “Remember” by Lisa Genova

Remember was one of the books nominated for Non-Fiction book of the year 2021 in the Goodreads Awards. This is how I came to know about this book. I read the description and it sounded intriguing and interesting. After reading this book, I can surely say that it is one hell of a book with intense research on memory and human brain. So here is the book review to satiate your curiosity.

Book – Remember

Author – Lisa Genova

Published in 2021

Genre – Non-Fiction

My Ratings– 4 out of 5 stars

Click here to buy this book.

Source – Amazon

What’s in the book?

In this book, the author explores the reasons why our brain works the way it works. She has jumped into the detailed explanation of what actually is memory before describing to us readers how a memory functions. The chapters are divided topic wise, each one exploring one aspect of our memory and memory retaining capacity. Human mind is a storehouse of wonder, no doubt in that. The book explores all aspects of human memory and how it functions. Special focus was on the forgetfulness and Alzheimer but still it explains in detail about human memory and how it helps us at every step. Not only this, it also talks about certain methods that might help us in better retention and synaptic formations that will further help us in bettering our memory.

Writing style and book review :

The writing style of this book is exceptionally easy to understand even when it is dealing with such a complicated topic of memory and human brain. The author has explained in detail how the memory formation works, how the memory loss happens, what happens in Alzheimer’s, and several more instances of scientific researches that are conducted in the field of human brain and memory. Even the readers without any background knowledge related to memory will be able to understand and proceed to draw conclusions through this writing style.

“Memory is the sum of what we remember and what we forget, and there is an art and science to both.”

The book is divided into three parts.

The first part is – How We Remember?

In this part, the author talks about the basic process by which our brain works for forming memory. Whatever we see is not a part of our memory but what we pay attention to is the real memory that gets formed in our mind. When we cross a certain store on regular basis but when someone mentions it, we don’t remember it until and unless we paid attention to that store.

“If we want to remember something, above all else, we need to notice what is going on.”

Every memory that we form, recall and reform bring some lasting physical change in our brain. Our brain captures everything that we pay attention to and turn them into neurological language that gets stored in physical form in our brain. We remember those memories by revisiting those neurons and making connections between them.

“Memories physically exist in your head through a neural network of associations.”

She further talks about the muscle memory that helps us do the day to day activities and regular activities without much thought and attention. These muscle memories have saved us so much effort and load on our brain.

“Popular culture calls this ability to perform a previously learned skill muscle memory. With repetition and focused practice, complex sequences of previously unrelated physical movements can be bound together and executed as single action instead of as a series of separate, laboured steps. When the precise pattern is committed to the memory, it can be performed idly, faster, more accurately, and without conscious thought about how to do it.”

The second part is – Why We Forget?

In this section, the author has discussed how we all have morphed our own memories of past little by little. We all change bits and parts of old memory when we revisit it, reforming the neurons and completely changing he memories.

“Your episodic memories are chock-full of distortions, additions, omissions, elaboration, confabulations, and other errors.”

Then she talks about Tip of the Tongue (TOTs) happenings of our brain. Whenever we are aware that we know the answer to this question but could not bring ourselves upon the exact answers, it is just a normal phenomenon and not something that you should be scared of.

“TOTs are normal glitch in memory retrieval, a by-product of how our brains are organised.”

In this part, the author also explains o us the importance of forgetting things. Then she proceeds to talk about the impact of age upon our memory and brain. She also talks about Alzheimer’s and how it gets built up through decades.

“Am intelligent memory system not only remembers information but also actively forgets whatever is no longer useful.”

The third part of the book is – Improve or Impair

In this part, the author has talked about how forgetting things is inevitable but use of multiple techniques help retain info that is important.

We can retain information that is important to us by:

  • Paying attention,
  • Decreasing distractions,
  • Rehearsing and repeating information,
  • Self-testing,
  • Creating meaning and context,
  • Keeping a journal or to-do list
  • Using our fight and flight response
  • Getting proper sleep of 7 to 8 hours regularly

Apart from these, there were several explanations regarding information retention capacity of brain that could be used for better memory retention.

Conclusion of the book review:

Overall, this is a very interesting book that explains the process of our mind to us. I have elaborated this in this book review. I will highly recommend this book if you don’t want to get lost in scientific jargons and still gain insight into the working of your brain. This book is highly recommended for people who want to read more about human body and mind and are curious about human brain.

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