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Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savantby Daniel Tammet
Synopses & Reviews
Born on a Blue Day is a journey into one of the most fascinating minds alive today — guided by its owner himself. Daniel Tammet 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 almost unimaginable mental powers, much like those portrayed by Dustin Hoffman in the film Rain Man.
Daniel has a compulsive need for order and routine — he eats the same precise amount of cereal for breakfast every morning and cannot leave the house without counting the number of items of clothing he's wearing. When he gets stressed or is unhappy, he closes his eyes and counts. But in one crucial way Daniel is not at all like the Rain Man: he is virtually unique among people who have severe autistic disorders in that he is capable of living a fully independent life. He has emerged from the "other side" of autism with the ability to function successfully — he is even able to explain what is happening inside his head.
Born on a Blue Day is a triumphant and uplifting story, starting from early childhood, when Daniel was incapable of making friends and prone to tantrums, to young adulthood, when he learned how to control himself and to live independently, fell in love, experienced a religious conversion to Christianity, and most recently, emerged as a celebrity. The world's leading neuroscientists have been studying Daniel's ability to solve complicated math problems in one fell swoop by seeing shapes rather than making step-by-step calculations. Here he explains how he does it, and how he is able to learn new languages so quickly, simply by absorbing their patterns.
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.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"This is a concise book about a very expansive mind. By studying Daniel we may come closer to being able to tap the 'little Rain Man' that exists, perhaps, within us all." Darold A. Treffert, MD, author of Extraordinary People: Understanding Savant Syndrome
"A riveting account of living with autism....Transcends the disability-memoir genre." Kirkus Reviews
"The probability of someone having both synesthesia and autism is incredibly small....The resulting book is a story of a life that is both remarkable and inspiring." Simon Baron-Cohen, author of Mindblindness and The Essential Difference
"It was fascinating to read how the mind of a mathematical savant is both similar to and different from my visual brain. Daniel thinks in patterns of color, shapes, and relationships between numbers, instead of in photo-realistic images. This book is a must-read for anybody who is interested in how the mind works." Temple Grandin, bestselling author of Animals in Translation and Thinking in Pictures
"Something in the way that Mr. Tammet describes the beautiful, aching, hallucinatory process of arriving at his answers illuminates the excitement of all cogitation." The New York Times
"Although Tammet is only 27, his autobiography is as fascinating as Benjamin Franklin's and John Stuart Mill's." Booklist
One of the worlds only 50 living autistic savants is the first to tell his compelling and inspiring life story, and explain how his incredible mind works. While Tammets brain has amazed scientists for years, readers will be moved by this remarkable mans story.
About the Author
Daniel Tammet lives with his partner, Neil, in Kent, England, where he runs a successful web-based business for language tutorials.
Table of Contents
Blue nines and red words — Early years — Struck by lightning: epilepsy — School days — Odd one out — Adolescence — Ticket to Kaunas — Falling in love — Gift of tongues — Very large slice of Pi — Meeting Kim Peek — Reykjavik, New York, home.
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