Examining Memory

Memory is a tricky, fascinating, mysterious science. Why do we remember our kindergarten teacher’s name but not what we had for lunch yesterday? Why can’t we remember everything we want to remember, or forget something we would really prefer to forget? Many philosophers and writers have wrestled with understanding the advantages and pitfalls of memory.

“Memory . . .is the diary that we all carry about with us - but it usually chronicles the things that have never happened, and couldn't possibly have happened.”
Oscar Wilde

“The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

“When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened.”
Mark Twain

“There's basically an element of fiction in everything you remember.”
Isabel Allende

“Love is so short. Forgetting is so long.”
Pablo Neruda

San Jose Public Library carries many titles that address the phenomena, miracles, and problems of memory. Here are some titles for those curious about exploring memory further.

Books on Memory

Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting, book cover
Where Did I Leave My Glasses? the What, When, and Why of Normal Memory Loss, book cover
 Moonwalking With Einstein: the Art and Science of Remembering Everything, book cover
Forgetting: The Benefits of Not Remembering, book cover
Adventures in Memory: the Science and Secrets of Remembering and Forgetting, book cover