Publ: 2007 Michael O’Mara Books
Genre: Non-fiction (153.14)
Rating: ***** ****
I read this a few months ago but have waited until now to do a posting because I wanted to buy it as a Christmas present for various people and I didn’t want to spoil the surprise. I'm a bit late with the present in a way because this was a Christmas best-seller last year!
Sub-titled “Old-school ways of remembering stuff” this is a brilliantly formatted guide to all those mnemonics and other tricks that were used (and presumably still are) to remember things. It has all the old favourites like Richard Of York Gave Battle in Vain for remembering the colours of the rainbow; Every Good Boy Deserves Favour for the lines on the treble clef; and My Very easy Method: Just Set Up Nine Planets for the order of the planets from the Sun.
I may have problems remembering where some of the Mediterranean islands are located but not Sicily - I can still hear Mum’s voice when I read
“Long-legged Italy kicked little Sicily
Right into the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.”
Similarly it was Mum or Dad who taught me Ammonia for a Bee and Vinegar for Wasp.
As Helen will know I am forever forgetting which camel has which number of humps. No more will I suffer from that problem. Just turn the initial letters on their sides and instantly realise that a Bactrian has two humps and a Dromedary only one.
GB can confirm that I am forever asking him about the seven deadly sins (why I should expect him to know I’m not sure!). Now I can at least recall the initial letters if I learn All Private Colleges Leave Serious Educational Gaps.
Meanwhile GB himself has difficulty with Left and Right so the idea of putting your hands on the table and rotating your thumb to a 90° angle – one of which gives you the letter L for Left sounds a good idea.
But there is much more to this book than just a load of mnemonics. Many of the subjects covered are ones which people may never have learned in the first place so my plan is to get myself a copy of this book and keep it at the bedside to learn one page each night. Quizzers and those with a simple desire to learn odds and ends will also benefit greatly from this, one of the best books of 2007.
JUDY PARKINSON lives in London. That's a not a lot of biographical information but it's all I could find!!!
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