2014: "Moonwalking with Einstein, The Art and Science of Remembering Everything"

This custom book group discussion kit was created just for you by our very own librarians as part of the One Book, One Oak Park community summer reading experience. Scroll down to find discussion questions, author background, menu ideas, and what to read next, all to help you organize and lead your own discussion, on your own timeline.

"Moonwalking" discussion questions

Source: Oak Park Public Library Librarians

  • How did this title make you think about your memory?
  • Did you try any of the memory techniques talked about in the book? How did they work for you?
  • How important is memory in our culture today, especially when we have so many ways to recall information like smart phones, printed text, photographs, and computers? Do you think these help or hurt our ability to create memories?
  • The author, Joshua Foer, often brings up that in the ancient world memorizing was considered learning. Do you think that still holds true today? How would you define learning in today’s terms?
  • The book also talks a lot about memory and identity. How strongly do you feel the two are connected? Were your thoughts on memory and identity changed at all while you read the book?
  • Foer meets a cast of characters in his journey into the world of memory championships.
  • What was your reaction to his coach, Ed Cooke? What did you think of Cooke’s methods?
  • Talk about Ribot’s Law – the process of integrating memories into the brain’s network. Does that law seem to hold true for your brain?
  • What sections of this book seemed humorous? What parts did you find most interesting?
  • Foer says that in the process of improving his memory, he also learned “to pay attention to the world around” him. Did this book make you pay more attention to your surroundings? How so?
  • How much of the book do you feel you remember?
  • Overall, did you like the book? Would you recommend it to a friend? Why or why not?

About the author

Here are some fun facts and links with more information about Joshua Foer.

Source: joshuafoer.com

  • Joshua Foer was born in Washington, D.C., in 1982 and lives in New Haven, Connecticut.
  • His writing has appeared in National Geographic, Esquire, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, and other publications.
  • He is the co-founder of the Atlas Obscura, an online guide to the world’s wonders and curiosities. He is also the co-founder of Sukkah City, an architectural design competition.
  • Moonwalking with Einstein, an international best-seller that has been published in 33 languages, is his first book
  • In2009, he was named “One of Ten People Who Could Change the World” by The New Statesman
  • More about science journalist Joshua Foer.

Menu ideas

What do you serve to complement Moonwalking with Einstein? Here are some ideas your group can eat up!

Source: Oak Park Public Library Librarians

  • A nice bowl of berries. Research has found that blueberries, strawberries, and acai berries may help reduce age-related cognitive decline by preserving the mechanism that helps get rid of toxic proteins associated with age-related memory loss.
  • Guacamole and chips. Much like blueberries, avocados are rich in Vitamin E, which helps build up proteins that help reduce memory loss.
  • Whole-wheat blueberry muffins. Whole grains have a lot of fiber, vitamins and complex carbohydrates that boost cognitive function, and again, blueberries are effective at reversing age-related memory deficits.
  • Broccoli salad. Dark leafy greens like broccoli are a great source of Vitamin K, which can boost cognitive function and provide folate, which helps protect the brain.
  • Mixed nuts. Another great source of Vitamin E, which helps to prevent cognitive decline.
  • Caprese Salad. Research suggests that lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, could help protect against damaged cells that occur with dementia. Fatty oils, such as olive oil, are another great source of Vitamin E, and help protect neurons in the brain.
  • Pumpkin seeds. These seeds are full of zinc, which can help your brain form new memories.
  • Dark Chocolate. Research suggests that flavonols, naturally occurring antioxidants found in cocoa, may protect brain neurons from injury.

What to read next

Want to read more books like Moonwalking with Einstein? Check out these similar titles, or get in touch for more recommended reads.

Source: Oak Park Public Library Librarians

  • Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman. Psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman delves into the science of attention in all its varieties and shows why high-achievers need focus, as demonstrated by rich case studies from fields as diverse as competitive sports, education, the arts, and business.
  • My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. On the morning of December 10, 1996, Taylor, a brain scientist, experienced a massive stroke. She observed her own mind completely deteriorate. Now she shares her unique perspective on the brain, and its capacity for recovery.
  • The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means To Be Alive by Brian Christian. A provocative, exuberant, and profound exploration of the ways in which computers are reshaping our ideas of what it means to be human. Its starting point is the annual Turning Test, which pits artificial intelligence programs against people to determine if computers can “think.”
  • Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan. The story of 24-year-old Susannah Cahalan and the life-saving discovery of the autoimmune disorder that nearly killed her – and that could perhaps be at the root of “demonic possessions” through history.

How to start a book group

Answer these 10 questions and you are on your way.

Source: ilovelibraries.org

  • What kind of book club? Decide on what type of group you’d like to have — social, academic, or maybe somewhere in between.
  • What kind of books? Choose a literary genre or a mix of genres: fiction (current or classic), poetry, drama, mystery, sci-fi, current events, history, or biography.
  • How many members? 8 to 16 members is best: enough for a discussion if several are absent, but not too many to make discussions unwieldy.
  • How often and when should the group meet? Once a month works best for most groups. Some meet every six weeks. Of course days and times will depend on jobs, childcare, family dinners, and more. Setting a recurring schedule may help.
  • Where should the group meet? Homes, clubhouses, public libraries, churches, restaurants, all make good meeting places.
  • What should the group call itself? Give your club a name that reflects who your members are or what you want to read — for example, The Bus Stop Book Club, Words on Wednesday, Stranger Than Fiction, etc.
  • How will the group keep in touch? Send out monthly meeting reminders. Distribute a complete list of phone numbers, addresses, and e-mails.
  • Does the group want to collect memories? Use a club journal, or a 3-ring binder to keep track of the books the group has read, as well as plot summaries, discussion highlights, and members’ opinions. It's especially useful to bring new members up to speed.
  • Does the group want to give back to the community? Give to a community scholarship or local literacy organization. Hold a used book exchange; donate any unclaimed books.
  • Learn more about Oak Park Public Library-led book groups.