cover image Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting

Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting

Lisa Genova. Harmony, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-593-13795-6

Neuroscientist and novelist Genova (Still Alice) delivers a solid primer on the way memory works and fails to work. She proposes that “once we understand memory and become familiar with how it functions... we can both vastly improve our ability to remember and feel less rattled when we inevitably forget.” She explains the different kinds of memory (such as working memory and muscle memory) and the pitfalls inherent in each (such as how relying on working memory can lead to forgetfulness, and muscle memory can sustain bad habits), before exploring the functions of forgetting and the distinction between normal memory failures and something more serious. Genova blends popular science and self-help, providing lay reader-friendly descriptions of the function of memory and sharing tips for better memory in a helpful appendix. The writing is evocative (“In the process of consolidating an episodic memory, your brain is like a sticky-fingered, madcap chef”), and there are plenty of memorable takes on phenomena like that of having a word on “the tip of the tongue” (which is caused by “partial or weak activation of the neurons that connect” the visual, conceptual, and phonological aspects of a word). This accessible survey is an easy entry point for anyone wondering how and why they keep forgetting where they left their car keys. [em](Mar.) [/em]