One Book program making memories

The Oak Park Public Library’s inaugural One Book, One Oak Park concludes with a celebration from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Main Library, 834 Lake St.

The event features a live video chat with journalist Joshua Foer, author of the 2011 nonfiction bestseller, “Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything.” During the video chat, Foer, winner of the 2006 U.S.A. Memory Championship, will answer attendees’ questions about his preparation for the competition, the basis of the book.

“Moonwalking With Einstein” was selected for One Book, One Oak Park to complement the library’s science-themed summer reading programs for children and teens.

Library officials report more than 100 book group discussion kits developed by staff for One Book, One Oak Park have been distributed since the June kickoff. About halfway through the summer reading period, circulation statistics showed Moonwalking with Einstein outpaced all other nonfiction books checked out at the library 10 to 1.

“The fantastic circulation of our first One Book, One Oak Park title demonstrates that the people of Oak Park have welcomed the opportunity to read as a community,” library Executive Director David Seleb said in a statement.

Foer gives Oak Leaves readers a little taste of what they can expect Thursday.

Q: Is this long-term memory or short-term memory that is developed for competition, and how, if at all, do you find yourself using these techniques in your everyday life?

A: The competitions are about creating long-term memories; however, long-term memories fade with time if they are not maintained. And in a competition, you really actively don’t want to remember any of the information you memorized any longer than you have to. After all, what good is it to remember the order of a shuffled deck of playing cards? I still use some of the techniques I learned in everyday life. For example, the tricks for remembering names are really handy. As are the tricks for remembering numbers. The reason memory techniques were invented in the first place was for the sake of remembering speeches. If I have enough time beforehand, I will often try to use a technique known as the memory palace to memorize speeches I’m going to give.

Q: What kind of memory tricks did you learn that other people can apply to their everyday lives?

A: One of the simplest and handiest techniques for remembering numbers is known as the Major System. It’s a three-centuries-old code for making numbers more memorable. I use it to remember where I parked my car, which hotel room I staying in, and my bank and credit card numbers.

Q: What effect do you believe the use of technology has on our reliance on memory?

A: The more we rely on technology to store information for us, the less we rely on our memories. The less we rely on our memories, the less we trust them, and the less we develop them. But this is a far older story than the iPhone or Google. After all, Socrates was concerned that the new technology of writing was going to make people forgetful. And he was right, in a way.

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Read about Ernest Hemingway and his ties to Oak Park by clicking here.

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