You cannot call to mind the name of a man you have known for 30 years. You walk into a room and forget what you came for. What is the name of that famous film you’ve watched so many times? These are common experiences, and as we grow older we tend to worry about these lapses. Is our memory failing? Is it dementia?
Douwe Draaisma, a renowned memory specialist, here focuses on memory in later life. Writing with eloquence and humor, he explains neurological phenomena without becoming lost in specialist terminology. His book is reminiscent of Oliver Sacks’s work, and not coincidentally this volume includes a long interview with Sacks, who speaks of his own memory changes as he entered his sixties. Draaisma moves smoothly from anecdote to research and back, weaving stories and science into a compelling description of the terrain of memory. He brings to light the “reminiscence effect,” just one of the unexpected pleasures of an aging memory.
The author writes reassuringly about forgetfulness and satisfyingly dismantles the stubborn myth that mental gymnastics can improve memory. He presents a convincing case in favor of the aging mind and urges us to value the nostalgia that survives as recollection, appreciate the intangible nature of past events, and take pleasure in the consolation of razor-sharp reminiscing.
"Draaisma provides an entertaining discussion . . . in a lively style and he engages with topics of considerable social and psychological importance. He does not overburden the reader with experimental work and his use of varied sources is refreshing."—Alan Collins, Times Higher Education Supplement
“Full of intriguing information and touching interviews, The Nostalgia Factory may help you to hear Grandpa’s rambling war stories in a different way.”—Rita Carter, BBC Focus Magazine
'One of our most perceptive writers on the stories of human memory, Douwe Draaisma has written a tender and insightful meditation on the trials and consolations of old age, memory and forgetfulness.' - Charles Fernyhough, author of Pieces of Light: How the New Science of Memory Illuminates the Stories We Tell About Our Pasts
‘Draaisma is a poet of memory, one whose knowledge is grounded in science, though he is far too wise to confuse the lab with life. The clarity and elegance of his treatment of the subject gives continual delight.’ - Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World
William Palmer, The Oldie
‘Draaisma in The Nostalgia Factory calls this the 'reminiscence effect', but what is really appealing about his accessible and entertaining study is the enthusiasm with which he treats old age, considered so often by today’s society as a time of decay and decline.’—Lesley McDowell, The Sunday Herald
Heller McAlpin, The Washington Post
“For readers, the most welcome aspect of this book may be his heartening examples of the wisdom that comes with old age.”—Heller McAlpin, The Washington Post
About the Author:
Douwe Draaisma is professor of history and theory of psychology, Heymans Chair, University of Groningen, and author of Why Life Speeds Up As You Get Older. He lives in Groningen, The Netherlands.