“The Memory Illusion” by Dr. Julia Shaw

Are you one of those people who wholly trusts your ability to recall happenings and pieces of information from memory? Despite this, do you ever wonder why your versions of events and the confident recollections of others somehow fail to line up?

You’d probably be fascinated by Dr. Julia Shaw’s book, The Memory Illusion: Remembering, Forgetting, and the Science of False Memory. In it, she presents psychological research — in a surprisingly accessible way, I might add — to demonstrate how unstable and unreliable our memories really are:

[Our memories] are far from being the accurate record of the past we like to think they are. In The Memory Illusion, forensic psychologist and memory expert Dr Julia Shaw draws on the latest research to show why our memories so often play tricks on us — and how, if we understand their fallibility, we can actually improve their accuracy. The result is an exploration of our minds that both fascinating and unnerving, and that will make you question how much you can ever truly know about yourself. Think you have a good memory? Think again.

This book is a rabbit hole that, by the end, may leave you with a profound new way of looking at memories, both yours and those of others. Here’s a great quote from it:

“[…] understanding all the shortcomings that our memory system presents allows us to adhere to a whole new ethos. Our past is a fictional representation, and the only thing we can be even somewhat sure of is what is happening now. It encourages us to live in the moment and not to place too much importance on our past. It forces us to accept that the best time of our lives, and our memory, is right now.”

Get The Memory Illusion in these formats: