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The Nostalgia Factory: Memory, Time and Ageing
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The Nostalgia Factory takes on the nature of memory, particularly the memory of those who are in their 60s and older - a subject that will affect most of us, one way or another.

Part way through I was going to award this book five stars, and part of the reason for this is the beautifully written translation by Liz Waters. It really was a delight to read. Douwe Draaisma takes us smoothly into the way memories change with time, how memories from youth start to surface more and become more important, and the fragile connection between memory and reality. Two parts particularly stick out to my mind (as far as my ageing memory goes) - a powerful assessment of brain training and the whole `use it or lose it' thing, and some fascinating observations on the differences between the way that we see the world in our late teens/early twenties and the way we remember seeing things at that age when we are 30 to 40 years older.

The reason I've not gone for the whole five stars is that the book is very slow. It makes some points over and over again - it is almost as if the whole thing was a magazine article that has been extended to make a (slim) book. There simply isn't enough in it. I also found the chapter consisting of an interview with Oliver Sacks excruciating. While Sacks is clearly a hero for Draaisma, pretty well all written interviews are boring, and this was no exception. The only thing I got out of it was seriously downgrading Sacks in my opinion because he is apparently so dependent on his psychoanalyst that he has to have sessions over the phone when not at home. That Sacks believes in this pseudo-science is worrying to say the least.

Despite the limitations, though, this is an eloquent and elegant little book with some genuinely interesting (and perhaps worrying for someone in their late 50s) observations about the way memory changes as we get older.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 December 2013
Some good material, but not enough substance on the key concept (the reminiscence effect by which older people remember their early life) and some of the chapters are just padding. Needed a bit more somehow.
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on 13 February 2014
.. much about it except that it made me feel less worried about my memory failures as I approach 65 and to see my experience as normal, probably. For this reason alone it is worth 5 stars to me. There is not a lot of scientific depth but some illuminating examples. Worth a read if you are, like I was, beginning to worry about memory loss. This kind of worry can have a negative effect on memory anyway. I'm not sure whether this was specifically stated, but I now have the idea that if you can remember that you have forgotten something, like a name, for example, then this is no reason to worry about dementia. If you can't remember that you ever knew it, then this is more indicative, but you wouldn't know anyway unless someone tells you. If I couldn't remember that I bought this and Amazon says that I did, then there may be a problem, for example. I agree with another reviewer that it is perhaps a little insubstantial and that will depend upon what you hope to gain but, for the reason already stated, it is worth the 5 stars from my personal viewpoint.
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on 25 February 2014
I bought this as a gift for my father who has been concerned about his deteriorating memory. He found it very readable, with a number of astute observations.
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on 9 October 2014
heavy going at times, but fascinating
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