Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant

      Daniel Tammet
Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant

Born on a Blue Day is a journey into one of the most fascinating minds alive today—guided by the owner himself. Daniel Tammet is virtually unique among people who have severe autistic disorders in that he is capable of living a fully independent life and able to explain what is happening inside his head.

He sees numbers as shapes, colors, and textures, and he can perform extraordinary calculations in his head. He can learn to speak new languages fluently, from scratch, in a week. In 2004, he memorized and recited more than 22,000 digits of pi, setting a record. He has savant syndrome, an extremely rare condition that gives him the most unimaginable mental powers, much like those portrayed by Dustin Hoffman in the film Rain Man.

Fascinating and inspiring, Born on a Blue Day explores what it’s like to be special and gives us an insight into what makes us all human—our minds.

From Publishers Weekly

This unique first-person account offers a window into the mind of a high-functioning, 27-year-old British autistic savant with Asperger's syndrome. Tammet's ability to think abstractly, deviate from routine, and empathize, interact and communicate with others is impaired, yet he's capable of incredible feats of memorization and mental calculation. Besides being able to effortlessly multiply and divide huge sums in his head with the speed and accuracy of a computer, Tammet, the subject of the 2005 documentary Brainman, learned Icelandic in a single week and recited the number pi up to the 22,514th digit, breaking the European record. He also experiences synesthesia, an unusual neurological syndrome that enables him to experience numbers and words as "shapes, colors, textures and motions." Tammet traces his life from a frustrating, withdrawn childhood and adolescence to his adult achievements, which include teaching in Lithuania, achieving financial independence with an educational Web site and sustaining a long-term romantic relationship. As one of only about 50 people living today with synesthesia and autism, Tammet's condition is intriguing to researchers; his ability to express himself clearly and with a surprisingly engaging tone (given his symptoms) makes for an account that will intrigue others as well. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Starred Review Although Tammet is only 27, his autobiography is as fascinating as Benjamin Franklin's and John Stuart Mill's, both of which are, like his, about the growth of a mind. Not that Tammet is a scientist-statesman or philosopher. He is an autistic savant who can perform hefty arithmetical calculations at lightning speed and acquire speaking competency in a previously unknown language in mere days (the latter capability he used to create the Web-based language-learning systems with which he supports himself). More socially competent and independent than the autistic savant famously played by Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, Tammet shares his peers' strong preferences for routine, peace and quiet, private space, and literalness, as well as aversion to chance occurrences, aural and informational noise, and figurative language (despite his arithmetical gift, he can't do algebra; he reads a lot but never fiction). He learned fellowship very gradually and says he couldn't really acknowledge his eight siblings until he grew up. He also writes some of the clearest prose this side of Hemingway; he tells his story with such concentration, precision, and simplicity that his familial poverty, schooling as a "mainstreamed" student, self-realization as gay, and embracing of Christianity prove as enthralling as they are, ultimately, normal. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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    Thinking in Numbers: How Maths Illuminates Our Lives

      Daniel Tammet
Thinking in Numbers: How Maths Illuminates Our Lives

This is the book that Daniel Tammet, bestselling author and mathematical savant, was born to write. In Tammet's world, numbers are beautiful and mathematics illuminates our lives and minds. Using anecdotes and everyday examples, Tammet allows us to share his unique insights and delight in the way numbers, fractions and equations underpin all our lives.

Inspired by the complexity of snowflakes, Anne Boleyn's sixth finger or his mother's unpredictable behaviour, Tammet explores questions such as why time seems to speed up as we age, whether there is such a thing as an average person and how we can make sense of those we love.

Thinking in Numbers will change the way you think about maths and fire your imagination to see the world with fresh eyes.

Review

Thinking in Numbers is unprecedented: a pitch-perfect duet between mathematics and literature ... Mathematics, Tammet says, is illimitable. It is a language through which the human imagination expresses itself. Presumably this means mathematics has, or deserves, a literature. In Tammet, it already has a laureate. -- New Scientist A collection of essays on subjects as diverse as Shakespeare and Tolstoy, a rumination on snow and another on chess, as well as a fantastically nuanced piece about his mother. It is a collection which showcases Tammet's extraordinary talent ... a writer of unique capabilities. -- Scotsman Magazine An interesting and often beautiful approach: Tammet writes well... and his love of numbers shines from the page... Tammet's discussion of big numbers is fascinating. -- Daily Telegraph Tammet's choice of subjects is personal, and wonderfully eclectic... What lifts Tammet's entertaining collection above the ordinary are the often surprising links that he sees, explores and explains. -- Sunday Telegraph Explores the 'what if' of maths and links it with literature and life. He is an exhilarating thinker, an exciting writer, and looks at the world with an eclectic, quizzical eye. -- Saga magazine Tammet is an accomplished writer with a prose style akin to a warm embrace... scintillating ... enlightens and entertains in (approximately) equal measure. -- Daily Express When he talks about his own extreme skills, such as his feat of pi memorisation, the book comes alive. -- BBC Focus Daniel Tammet's unique take on the world will prove that life - not just classroom maths - is more than just a numbers game. -- Gay Times As fluid with words as with numbers, his essays are artfully constructed: intriguing openings to entice us; interesting snippets of history; accessible but unpatronising tones; neat endings. -- Independent In Tammet's mind, literature, art and maths are united. For him, maths' real-life applications are not merely tax returns and restaurant bills, but the storytelling of an infinite subject and the reasoning behind our daily existence. -- The Huffington Post Thinking in Numbers is a mind-expanding, kinetic aesthetic experience. My mind shot off the page, spurred to see universal patterns very much alive in everything from the natural world we share to how imagery and metaphor occur in my own creative process. Tammet's poetic mathematics are beautiful guideposts for thinking about life and even love. As I read, I found myself saying, 'Yes, this is true, and this is true, and this is so true...' -- Amy Tan Always informative, always entertaining, Daniel Tammet never loses his respect for the mystery of the universe of number. -- JM Coetzee Born on a Blue Day introduced us to the extraordinary phenomenon of Daniel Tammet, and Thinking in Numbers enlarges one's wonder at Tammet's mind and his all-embracing vision of the world as grounded in numbers. -- Oliver Sacks, MD His aim with Thinking in Numbers is to show that mathematics can be as rich, inspiring and human as literature - and to "bruise" the line between fiction and non-fiction... he succeeds magnificently. -- Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Daniel Tammet is the critically acclaimed author of the worldwide bestselling memoir, BORN ON A BLUE DAY, and the international bestseller EMBRACING THE WIDE SKY. Tammet's exceptional abilities in mathematics and linguistics are combined with a unique capacity to communicate what it is like to be a savant. His idiosyncratic world view gives us new perspectives on the universal questions of what it is to be human and how we make meaning in our lives. Tammet was born in London in 1979, the eldest of nine children. He lives in Paris.

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