Hi Everyone! It's Winter in Bayfield and we're reading! The AIB General Book Group got off to a great start for its third season. We chose to meet again at Big Water Coffee Roasters across the street from the bookstore -- the second Wednesday of each month from 3:00 to 5:00 pm around the big table, all comers welcome. We had enthusiastic participation and some great book choices. The first book we read was The Lighthouse Road, Minnesota author Peter Geye's second novel. It is the story of a young immigrant woman settling into life in Duluth in the 1890's still shocked at finding herself stranded in a new country alone and adrift. Our group loved the book appreciating the authentic historical details, the exquisite language and the nuanced characters and relationships. It's been a real pleasure to share this special book with our customers.
Our next Book Group choice, Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer, inspired a fascinating discussion about memory. Everyone in the group liked the book and was glad we read it, less for any specific memory techniques than for the author’s examination of the history, science and sociology of memory and of memory’s evolving role in human interaction from the time before writing when memory was the only way to pass along information to the present where devices are being researched and developed to fully externalize memory, making internal memory theoretically completely unnecessary. Yikes! There are also some really simple techniques in the book which render some practical situations that call for memory a lot easier. For example, all those bookstore customers who visit us frequently but often with long absences between visits. I am always so glad to see them and mortified that I cannot remember their names!
One very important thing of which I was reminded from reading Moonwalking is that, if we don’t take simple affirmative steps to place information likes names and faces into our long term memory, it will not simply happen automatically. Period. It’s a question of basic science, not declining mental capacity. And, in this day when I depend on my “smart” phone for all those names, numbers and addresses that I used to know, unfortunately I guarantee that my phone is a lot smarter than I am! So, I am designing my memory palace and images as I write!