Memorizing a Book

[This thread was copied here from the old forum.]


drsleep8 29 September, 2012 - 17:27

I have been thinking about how I might memorize a book. The plans below should not be exhaustive. I have just written the first 6 plans that come to mind. Trying to think of the main permutations that I might use. It may be helpful for others. I will know more once I try them.

Plans to Memorize a book: Just thinking of the possibilities; have not done any of this yet. Keep in mind that I am equally familiar with the Major and Dominic systems.
Read the entire book first for comprehension.

Plan 1: Use Loci for names of chapters.
Chain (or story) main concepts off of loci, up to 10 subtopics per locus

Plan 2: Use Major Peg system for memorizing chapter titles
Chain (or story) main concepts off of pegs, up to 10 subtopics per peg

Plan 3: Use Major Peg system for memorizing chapters
Add alphabet code (symbol or rhyme) to peg subtopics in each chapter

Plan 4: use Dominic system for memorizing chapters
Use Major peg system for subtopics, Chapter one has numbers 1-10, chapter 2 uses pegs from 11-20, chapter 3 uses 30-40, etc.

Plan 5: Use loci for main chapter titles
Use Major peg system for subtopics, Chapter one has numbers 1-10, chapter 2 uses pegs from 11-20, chapter 3 uses 30-40, chapter 440-449. The first number codes for the chapter and the other digits for the subpoints in the chapter. Using different groups of ten based on the chapter would decrease possible interference that could occur from using the same subtopic pegs for each chapter.

Plan 6: Use Major peg system for chapter titles
Then make three digit pegs for each of the subtopics of each chapter. For example chapter 9 could have the following subtopics, up to ten: 910 (pots), 911, 912 (button),913, 914, 915, 916, 917, 918, 919.
Chapter 3 would be 3xx so the first concept in that chapter would be 310 (mutts), and the last 319 . (metabolism). Probably ten concepts or at least 5 should be memorized from each chapter to have some consistency for using the same numbers. Might be hard to recall that one chapter had 10 subpoints, and another had 3.

I think I like Plans 4, 5 and 6 most. Feel free to add to the list.


suncover 3 October, 2012 - 19:27

What would be your end goal? To be able to recall any part of the book, and it’s location, at any time, or simply be able to recount the story to someone? Or something else entirely?


drsleep8 4 October, 2012 - 10:52

Good question suncover. I never read fiction anymore so it would be a memorization of a small text book say about 200 pages for my first effort. One goal is to see if I can do it. If I can it was as easy as I think it will be, then I’ll do more. I will probably concentrate my energies on something I want to learn but not overly complex as a first try-maybe a geography or history book. My other goal would be to remember as much of the book as I want to recall, which of course would depend on the particular book.

But I think the generalization to your questions is why memorize anything?
One could look it up.

I think everyone on this forum should ask themselves that question.
For me, one cannot always look it up. and I do enjoy it as a hobby, getting better and better. Watching one’s progress is fun. I guess I am slightly interested in impressing my friends but they are already rather impressed. I guess I am trying to impress myself as well. There is clearly something comsumatory about the process. One eats and then perhaps regurgitates (LOL)

Someone asked about the level of detail. Probably not too detailed, but with occasional details that I particularly want to recall. Would probably associate ten items to Loci or pegs for each chapter since research has shown that the story and the link systema fall down after about ten items (Higbee).

The other reason I would like to memorize my first book is that I will learn in the course of trying new techniques I could learn to make the process go smoother. I think though the process has to be tailered somewhat to the particular book. But I will let the forum know what I learn. I am a busy physician so it may take me a few months to get around to doing this.


suncover 4 October, 2012 - 18:15

The main reason I ask is that some people make the effort, after learning these techniques, to memorise anything and everything that they see and do in their entire life. While this is an interesting endeavour, I feel that something like this would end up leaving you with many things in your mind that you don’t really need. However, certainly for practice, memorising key points and subtopics to a book would be helpful and fun - I’m just saying that you shouldn’t memorise every book simply for the sake of it. You lose motivation that way too - memorise it because you want to retain that information, and revisit it too! That way you’ll have the motivation of recalling the fun and useful stuff, without feeling the drain of excess energy expenditure when it’s not needed. Make sense? :slight_smile:


janardhangunjal1989 6 October, 2012 - 00:23

hi suncover

You might be interested in a post title

Memorise book/concept/topic

In mnemonics in education folder


zaerer 19 October, 2012 - 06:02

Thank you janardhangunjal1989
I have found the topic:


drsleep8 21 October, 2012 - 17:20

I have not started yet but I am leaning toward the method below (in quotes), one of several described in my earlier email (above).I think we should all have a spaced repetition set up based on the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve, but let’s keep it down to brass tacks and think of the method itself.

There are basically 3 things to recall: Chapter number and title, main points, and a few detailed facts. Let us assume i am discussing a textbook for example. I am assuming none of us for this discussion at least want to memorize word for word.

So the way I figure it one could memorize all the chapter titles first. THen we could read each chapter and jot down the 10 points from each chapter. Later we would chain these points to mnemonic we had made to the chapter title say either loci or peg.

Chapter 1 and title-associate peg for number one with the chapter title.
Do this for all chapters in this hypothetical text book
After this is learned, start reading each chapter and jotting down the key points
Once you have 10 points for each of the say 21 chapters, chain or story these to the peg or locus for each chapter. By the way Higbee claims that the one study suggested that pegs work as well as loci and of course provide immediate number association whereas with loci one has to go through and count to determine which is the item associated with the 9 locus for example. I am not sure I totally believe this one study because it does seem that there something special about visualizing an object on a locus, But i might prefer the Major peg system because I have already invested 30 years in it.
But basically there are three tasks: 1. Associate name of chapter to peg or locus. 2. Read whole book while jotting down 10 key concepts for each chapter-even the short ones. 3. Chain (or story) the ten main points to the chapter-peg(loci) association, as below:

“Plan 5: Use loci for main chapter titles
Use Major peg system for subtopics, Chapter one has numbers 1-10, chapter 2 uses pegs from 11-20, chapter 3 uses 30-40, chapter 440-449. The first number codes for the chapter and the other digits for the subpoints in the chapter. Using different groups of ten based on the chapter would decrease possible interference that could occur from using the same subtopic pegs for each chapter.”

Here is a concrete example:

Chapter 21, Parasomnias in Children and adults
(I am a sleep specialist)

Parsomnias are abnormal sleep behaviors which you probably would not need a mnemonic to remember this. This is chapter 21 (pretend we have already memorized chapters 1-20. The major word for 21 is net (or nut), so I could imagine a net being needed to haul in adult as well as childhood sleep walkers. THen all the ten points from this chapter I wanted to recall I would story or chain these to this one initial image. For those that prefer Loci, one could associate one’s 21 first loci with this. Hypothetically let us say that the 21st locus is a McDonald’s fast food restaurant. Imagine that there loads of adult and childhood sleep walkers walking around in McDonalds. Then the main points could be associated with the main bar where the cashier is, the area the napkins and straws are, the sitting TV watching area, the drive through, the frequently dirty restrooms, etc. Or you can just chain the ten points to a story that extends outside of McDonalds, but starts within McDonalds.

The main points might be

  1. Sleepwalking, night terrors and confusional arousals may be on a continuum of sleep state and are probably originating from stage N3 sleep. So you would have to conjure up an image for each of these items after reading their definitions and then sort of join them together perhaps inside of mCdonalds. Since I am familar with the field I could have substitute words here without reading the book first; you would need to read the book first to have all the definitions in mind.
  2. REM associated parasomnias. THese include REM sleep Behavior disorder where folks act out their dreams, and also nightmares. THere are little cues to help recall these. For example generally the REM related parasomnias have eyes closed, so visual two folks with eyes closed doing this, While the sleep walker and the others described above (number1) would be visualized as eyes open but glassy looking.

The details of each condition could be associated with a person doing things to represent these. For example among sleep walkers, more are left handed. So inside McDonalds you could see a glassy eyed person with eyes opening heading toward you holding out his left had to shake hands. THe details of each condition could be coded into each person visualized. If it is more common in men or males visualize a male doing it, and vice versa. There are other disorders; I have just simplified it.

I think it should be obvious that each chapter can have no more than 10 details, at least until one learns to go to the next level. Even small chapters should have ten details recorded since if we have 8 with some chapters and 6 with others, and 10 with others, in our recall strategy we might not remember how many items to look for. So even if it is a sparse chapter, each chapter must have the same number of details.


zaerer 15 September, 2013 - 05:07

A ganancious objective. :slight_smile:


Bogdanm 11 January, 2014 - 10:09

In fewer words wich are some the best techniques to memorize a book?


Bateman 11 January, 2014 - 13:21

Bogdanm wrote:

In fewer words wich are some the best techniques to memorize a book?

Summarize, separate into main ideas and quotes, put into memory palaces/journeys.


Bogdanm 11 January, 2014 - 14:02

Memory palce and joruney is it the same thing?


Bateman 11 January, 2014 - 15:31

Bogdanm, check out the getting started guide: https://artofmemory.com/wiki/Getting_Started


Hairy Wookie 13 January, 2014 - 04:45

You could do a mindmap of the book first which will help pull out the areas to remember.


Bogdanm 13 January, 2014 - 05:59

Mind mapes don`t really work for me i tryed to do a couple.Im do have one more question though lets say i have 600 loci for a 600 page book.I memorize 1 top to bottom the question is if i try to memorize another book using the same loci will i erase the previous book?


Kinma 13 January, 2014 - 13:18

Most probable.

I don’t see the method though.
Let’s say you try to put the first page of 10 books in the same locus.
And then the second page of those 10 books in another locus.

How would you:
a: remember them? On review, are you able to see and differentiate each page on reviewing that one locus?
b: know which page belongs to which book?


Bateman 14 September, 2014 - 08:01

Here is a guide on memorizing books. You can change it however you want depending on your needs, how much information you want to remember from each book, how many books you memorize and how much space you have.

Bateman