Audiobook Review: How We Learn by Benedict Carey

Posted October 16, 2014 by Felicia S in 2014 Read, 4.00 Wine Glasses, Audiobook, Reviews / 2 Comments

Audiobook Review: How We Learn by Benedict CareySource: Audiobook Review, Provided by Random House

Format: Audiobook

How We Learn by Benedict Carey
Narrator: Steve Kramer
Length: 7 hrs and 20 mins

Date Read: September 2014


From an early age, it is drilled into our heads: Restlessness, distraction, and ignorance are the enemies of success. We’re told that learning is all self-discipline, that we must confine ourselves to designated study areas, turn off the music, and maintain a strict ritual if we want to ace that test, memorize that presentation, or nail that piano recital.

But what if almost everything we were told about learning is wrong? And what if there was a way to achieve more with less effort?

In How We Learn, award-winning science reporter Benedict Carey sifts through decades of education research and landmark studies to uncover the truth about how our brains absorb and retain information. What he discovers is that, from the moment we are born, we are all learning quickly, efficiently, and automatically; but in our zeal to systematize the process we have ignored valuable, naturally enjoyable learning tools like forgetting, sleeping, and daydreaming. Is a dedicated desk in a quiet room really the best way to study? Can altering your routine improve your recall? Are there times when distraction is good? Is repetition necessary? Carey’s search for answers to these questions yields a wealth of strategies that make learning more a part of our everyday lives—and less of a chore.

By road testing many of the counterintuitive techniques described in this book, Carey shows how we can flex the neural muscles that make deep learning possible. Along the way he reveals why teachers should give final exams on the first day of class, why it’s wise to interleave subjects and concepts when learning any new skill, and when it’s smarter to stay up late prepping for that presentation than to rise early for one last cram session. And if this requires some suspension of disbelief, that’s because the research defies what we’ve been told, throughout our lives, about how best to learn.

The brain is not like a muscle, at least not in any straightforward sense. It is something else altogether, sensitive to mood, to timing, to circadian rhythms, as well as to location and environment. It doesn’t take orders well, to put it mildly. If the brain is a learning machine, then it is an eccentric one. In How We Learn, Benedict Carey shows us how to exploit its quirks to our advantage.

More Information:
Publisher: Random House, Random House Audio


Read It File It Review

JUST A NOTE: Read It File It is for books that I have read that I need to keep track of. The reviews will be super short (think tweet longer length) but will serve the purpose of getting the books into UBB for tracking purposes 🙂

Listened for Review (Random House Audio)
Overall Rating: 4.00
Information Rating: 4.00

Audio Rating: 4.00 (not part of the overall rating)

Read It File It (Short Review): How We Learn by Benedict Carey was rather interesting to me. I have always been a person who couldn’t study in quiet (no matter how much it was suggested) and always has to have something “noisy” while learning. It was interesting to read how that is a way people learn and the science behind it.

Audio Thoughts:

Narrated by: Steve Kramer /Length: 7 hrs and 20 mins

Steve did a good job with the narration but there are parts of the book that are better suited for reading (or maybe a handout/pdf/cd extra). Overall though (keeping with the theme) listening to the book probably made me get more from it!


FTC Disclosure


Overall Rating
4 / 5
Narrator Rating
4 / 5
Felicia S
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2 responses to “Audiobook Review: How We Learn by Benedict Carey

  1. I can’t just sit down and study. I’ve always had music or TV on. To this day, I don’t really know how to study. I’ve never really been good at it. The act of writing notes in class and then doing a read through, was pretty much all I ever did. This worked for the majority of my classes, but I do feel that this method hurt me in others. Even now when I read, I have music on because my mind will wander if I read in quite.