Saturday, March 21, 2015

Harry Lorayne

My old copySome persons go bananas about the one book that changed their lives. I believe that in many instances this has been the case, but for my part I am hesitant to give that lofty title any such tome. That said, there are a couple that have been so useful and shaping, that they have served as a base for my education and world outlook. Both are from memory expert Harry Lorayne.

The first book is The Memory Book written with Jerry Lucas. Found this one while just browsing at my local bookstore. From the beginning I was hooked and readily began to apply his systems to schoolwork. I was at junior high at the time, and with them I quickly set myself apart from the rest of my classmates. Not only was I better than before on the memory stuff, but I could study the applicable material in less time and with less effort and boredom.

His systems, technically called mnemonics, rest on a single readily applicable  principle ( I won't spoil it for you here).  In this book, the authors explore Harry's systems and how can they be applied and further developed. The book is an easy read and can be useful even for young children. As for seniors, I cannot positively say it, but I'm confident that it can be of benefit to them as well.

So as to not rest on his laurels, he has also reached into other aspects of mind use. The fruits of his scrutiny are gathered in the other book I wanted to talk about: Secrets of Mind Power. His thoughts are not based either on scientific studies or on unprovable esp-like phenomena, but on bona fide practical American common sense.  The methods are simple, sensible and useful.  He gives a golden warning, however: as with the memory stuff, the methods must be given an honest try for them to work and that must be done now, not later.

Here are some of the topics he covers:

Time organization
Forming habits and breaking them
Public speaking
Worry control
Making your own luck

Years now into the future I've found some even more powerful tools from philosophy and psychology in general and from Henry Hazlitt in particular. Notwithstanding, Harry Lorayne's methods are the ones that gave me the start and no one can really go wrong with them which makes this book a great place to begin with any self-improvement programme.

Most of his suggestions are fine and workable. Some few methods though could use tinkering or alternatives; for instance, I've tried his concentration suggestions several times, but have gotten better results with alternate methods.

There are some books one wishes to have read earlier in life. I was fortunate to be acquainted with these at the right time.

(There's another book from him on the mind, Instant Mind Power, but I do not know how it relates to the Secrets, since I've never seen a physical copy.)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Self-improvement arc

beautiful young woman in business attire; taken by Benjamin Miller; source:
For this year I plan on posting the longest arc to date, this one revolving around self improvement and books. For today's post I'll detail a bit on the planned release schedule and the reasons for my inclusions. At the root of this drive are Harry Lorayne's books on memory and the mind which inspired me to strive for better control of myself. From it I took up chess as a way to exercise my mind. As a further step I took on the Great Books reading program. Other fabulous books have come my way such as Adler's How to read a Book and Hazlitt's Thinking as a Science and some few on performance such as Gawande's Better and Colby's Talent is Overrated. The centerpiece will be my review of Britannica's The Great Books of The Western World of whose reading is still an ongoing project.

So this is how it may go:

  1. Introductory pieces
    • Harry Lorayne and his Secrets of mind power
    • Harry Lorayne and his Miracle math
    • Chess Calculation I
    • Chess Calculation II
  1. Main sequence
    • Reading the OED book review
    • The Britannica Great Books review
    • Adler's How To Read a Book review
    • Gateway to The Great Books review
    • Letter to my Niblings (a Great Books set present)
    • My stunt journalism mini-feat retaking O'shea's Reading the OED
  1. Other greats
    • Hazlitt's Thinking as a Science book review
    • Colby's Talent is Overrated review
    • Gawande's Better review
    • The Tusculan Disputations
  1. Coda
    • Eat that Frog
    • On the importance of how to cook