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Best Books on Memory: 35 Books For Massive Memory Improvement (2020)

Best Memory Improvement Books

Best Memory Improvement Books

Looking for the best books on memory improvement? You’re in the right place.

I spent a lot of time knee-deep in books on memory while studying Psychology, Philosophy and Physiology at Oxford. And I spent even more time recently writing a series of book summaries and articles on the topic.

The outcome? A mega-list of over 100 books on memory and memory improvement, spanning thousands of years of collective human knowledge.

To save you the trouble, I’ve shortlisted the best of those titles below. The resulting list includes 30 great books on memory split across 8 different categories: 



AND LASTLY: 4 Superb Memory Themed Novels

Where should you start? Think of this list like a menu. No one expects you to have everything. Instead, jump to a section that grabs you, choose a dish that excites you and don’t over think it. (You can always come back for more later.)

In the coming years, I’ll be reading every book below to pass on the best ideas in articles and summaries. If that sounds like something you’d like to join us for (and you’re not already onboard), sign up to the free newsletter to get my best articles, book summaries and reading lists directly to your inbox.

Oh, and one last thing. If you enjoyed what you found here today, I can strongly recommend checking out this FREE memory improvement kit over at my friend Anthony’s excellent website. If you’re the kind of person that needs videos and structure to learn properly, his work is a great place to start!

But for now, here they are, the very best books on memory improvement to help you master anything faster.


These books on memory techniques are full of instant tips, tricks and techniques for improving memory. If mnemonics, memory palaces and mindmaps are what you’re after, this is the right place to start.

  1. Unlimited Memory, Horsley (Summary)
    How to Use Advanced Learning Strategies to Learn Faster, Remember More and be More Productive
    A short and accessible introduction to mnemonic memory techniques for anyone looking to quickly improve their memory and increase their productivity – by Grand Master of Memory, Kevin Horsley.
    Rated 4.2 over 2,700 reviews on Goodreads
  2. How to Develop a Perfect Memory, O’Brien (Summary)
    The perfect manual for anyone wanting to effortlessly retain names, faces, facts, figures, speeches and languages. All the tools you need to develop a perfect memory – by 8-time World Memory Champion, Dominic O’Brien.
    Rated 4.2 over 200 reviews on Goodreads
  3. The Memory Book, Lorayne, Lucas (Summary)
    The Classic Guide to Improving Your Memory at Work, at School, and at Play
    A practical guide to remembering anything, faster, with simple, millennia-old mnemonics and proven memory boosting techniques – by memory masters, Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas.
    Rated 4.0 over 1,500 reviews on Goodreads
  4. Memory Improvement, White
    How to Improve Your Memory In Just 30 Days
    A 30-day plan to improve your memory using the usual assortment of mnemonic tricks and tools for encoding and remembering anything by two-time USA Memory Champion, Ron White.
    Rated 4.1 over 100 reviews on Goodreads
  5. The Mind Map Book, Buzan
    How to Use Radiant Thinking to Maximize Your Brain’s Untapped Potential
    Different to the other books in this secion in its focus on structuring knowledge with Mind Mapping rather than mnemonic systems and memory palaces – by founder of the World Memory Championships, Tony Buzan.
    Rated 3.8 over 2,200 reviews on Goodreads
  6. Remember Remember, Cooke
    Learn the Stuff You Thought You Never Could
    A wacky, eccentric and decidedly British take on the usual mnemonic techniques found above – by Grand Master of Memory and Memrise co-founder Ed Cooke.
    Rated 4.0 over 100 reviews on Goodreads


These books on improving memory go beyond mnemonic techniques for a more holistic view of brain health and function. Read these for some great ways to improve memory through diet, exercise, focus and energy management.

  1. Power Foods for the Brain, Barnard
    An Effective 3-Step Plan to Protect Your Mind and Strengthen Your Memory
    Rated 4.0 over 700 reviews on Goodreads
  2. How We Learn (Summary), Carey
    The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens
    Rated 3.9 over 3,300 reviews on Goodreads
  3. Memory Rescue, Amen
    Supercharge Your Brain, Reverse Memory Loss, and Remember What Matters Most
    Rated 4.2 over 100 reviews on Goodreads
  4. Boost Your Brain, Fotuhi
    Rated 4.1 over 200 reviews on Goodreads

The eagle-eyed may notice that Josh Foer’s popular Moonwalking With Einstein hasn’t appeared in these sections. It’s tricky, because though it’s about memory, it’s neither very practical nor a novel, so it doesn’t really have a place on these lists. That said, it’s a great read on Josh’s journey from memory novice to 2006 U.S.A. memory champion. Check out the link at the start of this paragraph or read my summary here for more.


Though you’ll find a lot of great tips in the books above, these memory books were written especially with students in mind. They focus on structuring knowledge, learning effectively from books and lectures and passing exams.

  1. Make It Stick, Brown, Roediger, McDaniel (Summary)
    The Science of Successful Learning
    Tools, strategies and stories to help students, teachers and trainers learn more effectively based on 10 years of collaboration between 11 cognitive psychologists – collected and synthesised by author Peter Brown and psychology researchers Henry Roediger and Mark McDaniel.
    Rated 4.2 over 5,100 reviews on Goodreads
  2. A Mind for Numbers, Oakley (Summary)
    How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra)
    A practical, research-based guide to unlocking the power of your brain to learn math, or anything else you put your mind to, even if you think you’re hopeless – by professor Barbara Oakley.
    Rated 4.2 over 6,100 reviews on Goodreads
  3. How to Pass Exams, O’Brien
    Accelerate Your Learning, Memorise Key Facts, Revise Effectively
    Rated 4.1 over 200 reviews on Goodreads
  4. Super Memory – Super Student, Lorayne
    How to Raise Your Grades in 30 Days
    Rated 4.1 over 200 reviews on Goodreads


The best way to improve your memory is to use it. And, with a little thought, you’ll find more interesting and practical uses for memory and learning than you could get through in a thousand lifetimes. But whether you simply love puzzles, or just really can’t think of a better way to use your time, these memory training and brain-game books will do more for your memory than sitting in front of the television.

  1. 399 Games, Puzzles & Trivia Challenges to Keep Your Brain Young, Linde
    Rated 4.1 over 100 reviews on Goodreads
  2. Brain Games, Publications International
    Lower Your Brain Age in Minutes a Day
    Rated 4.0 over <100 reviews on Goodreads
  3. Train Your Brain, Kawashima
    60 Days to a Better Brain
    Rated 3.9 over <100 reviews on Goodreads


The psychology and physiology of memory are my favourite parts of the topic. If neurones, synapses and aphasias are what float your boat, get stuck in below to learn all that we currently know about how memory works.

  1. Neuroscience, Bear, Connors, Paradiso
    An Illustrated Exploration of the Brain (N.b., only partly on Memory)
    Rated 4.3 over 900 reviews on Goodreads
  2. In Search of Memory, Kandel
    The Emergence of a New Science of Mind
    Rated 4.1 over 3,700 reviews on Goodreads
  3. The Mind of a Mnemonist, Luria
    A Little Book about a Vast Memory
    Rated 4.0 over 1,300 reviews on Goodreads
  4. Searching For Memory, Shachter
    The Brain, the Mind, and the Past
    Rated 4.0 over 300 reviews on Goodreads
  5. Essentials of Human Memory, Baddeley
    Rated 4.2 over <100 reviews on Goodreads
  6. Memory, Squire, Kandel
    From Mind to Molecules
    Rated 4.0 over <100 reviews on Goodreads


Before paper, wide-spread literacy and computers our memories were far better than they are today. The books below explore the fascinating history of memory and mnemonic techniques in a time when our collective, living memories were out most vital source of activity, knowledge and progress.

  1. The Art of Memory, Yates
    Rated 4.2 over 1,100 reviews on Goodreads
  2. The Memory Code, Kelly
    The Secrets of Stonehenge, Easter Island and Other Ancient Monuments
    Rated 4.1 over 200 reviews on Goodreads
  3. The Craft of Thought, Carruthers
    Meditation, Rhetoric, and the Making of Images, 400-1200
    Rated 4.5 over <100 reviews on Goodreads


What am I if not just a collection of experiences and memories? And if my memory of an event is different from yours, what really happened? In the books below you’ll find these and many more brain twisting questions asked, debated and answered.

  1. Memory, History, Forgetting, Ricœur
    Rated 4.1 over 300 reviews on Goodreads
  2. Memory, Foster
    A Very Short Introduction
    Rated 3.5 over 400 reviews on Goodreads
  3. Why Life Speeds Up as You Get Older, Draaisma
    How Memory Shapes Our Past
    Rated 3.7 over 200 reviews on Goodreads


What happens when your memories get lost? What would life be like if you could never form a new memory again? Sometimes the best way to explore the questions philosophers can’t answer is by imagining those questions play out.

  1. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, Fox
    A Children’s Storybook
    Rated 4.4 over 7,800 reviews on Goodreads
  2. In Search of Lost Time, Proust
    Rated 4.3 over 8,400 reviews on Goodreads
  3. Austerlitz, Sebald
    Rated 4.0 over 11,000 reviews on Goodreads
  4. Before I Go To Sleep, Watson
    Rated 3.9 over 236,700 reviews on Goodreads


If you enjoyed the book recommendations above, you will almost certainly love this reading list of 70 Books on Learning How to Learn. It’s full of summaries and was created with the help of leading writers in the space – including Coursera’s “Learning How to Learn” super-coach Barabara Oakley.

Check it out, let me know what you think of this list in the comments.

Until then, happy reading!

Arthur Worsley
Arthur Worsley
Arthur is a productivity coach and writer who helps top young execs and entrepreneurs be more productive, find more balance and live more meaningfully. Want to know more? Take this 2-minute quiz to discover your Productivity Quotient (PQ) and learn how to get BIG things done. Take the Quiz →

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  1. Natraj Iloni says:

    I really appreciate the way you’ve explained about the memory retention , improvement with simple metamorps (menu card) ,How ever could you tell more about the book “How to remember anything – Dean Vaughn”
    Which catagory it falls under (pratical , theoretical) bcz I’ve just order this book I was more looking for partical techquies but there was nothing mentioned abt this book in ur website (any typo plz excuse)

    tnx in advance!!!

      • Natraj Iloni says:

        I really appreciate for your quick response and I’ll consider your valuable advice , How ever atleast tell me which catagory its falls under partical or theory (How to remember anything).

        Even though it was not popular or highly rated enough . I was asking out of curiosity.

        • Arthur says:

          I haven’t read it but the “How to” in the title suggests it’s probably has some practical ideas in it. 🙌