Worldwide, there are fewer than 50 living savants, those autistic individuals who can perform miraculous mental calculations or artistic feats. (Think Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man.) Until now, none of them has been able to discuss his or her thought processes, much less write a book. Daniel Tammet is the first.
Tammet's problems were apparent from childhood. He was shunned by his classmates and often resorted to rocking and humming quietly. Yet he could memorize almost anything, and his math and language skills were astonishing. By high school, Daniel was diagnosed as autistic, and he began to discover his own superhuman abilities: calculating huge sums in his head in seconds, learning new languages in one week, and memorizing more than 22,000 digits of pi.
With heart-melting simplicity and astonishing self-awareness, Born on a Blue Day tells Daniel's story: from his childhood frustrations to adult triumphs, while explaining how his mind works. He thinks in pictures. He sees numbers as complex shapes: 37 is lumpy like porridge; 89 reminds him of falling snow. Today, Daniel has emerged as one of the world's most fascinating minds and inspiring stories. His brain has amazed scientists for years, and everyone will be moved by his remarkable life story.
©2007 Daniel Tammet; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.
"[Tanmet's] ability to express himself clearly and with a surprisingly engaging tone (given his symptoms) makes for an account that will intrigue." (Publishers Weekly)
I enjoyed the listen but I had no sense that the main character was facing any issues nor overcoming any difficulties. His condition was not presented as a problem nor an obstacle and he seemed perfectly capable of using his Asperger's and savant abilities to serve his appropriate and somewhat lucrative professional situations. Where's the problem? Where's the story? This character seemed perfectly capable of assimilating himself into Eastern European culture, for example, and I didn't see any story of triumph over any sort of negative odds, except at the end with the presentation of negative statistics on employment of people with syndromes in the autism spectrum. I thought it was a good reality check on discrimination - I guess it's easier to get a job if you are physically disabled, rather than possessed of an emotional/cognitive disorder.
I would say that this story probably works better as a documentary film and will try and rent the DVD of "Brainman" if it exists.
The perfectionism cited as a characteristic of this spectrum came through loud and clear, with the "all my ducks in a row" factor, and the book seemed more like a laundry list of all the elements of a very good life, rather than a struggle to deal with any sort of disability.
I did find the elaborate descriptions of numerical patterns and game strategies tedious and fast-forwarded through these sections.
Anyway it was a good "workout" read. I don't ask much in my listening, as I use most audiobooks as a second activity while exercising, driving, doing other routine tasks. I prefer a smooth, calm narration with minimal drama, and this listen satisfied most of my requirements.
OH my God!!! I only give this a 2 star rating just to give Daniel credit for this endeavor, but it was very dry. The only parts that were interesting were the parts about his childhood. At about the 3 hour mark I was ready to put it away, when I noticed on cable a documentary about him, and I thought, how ironic that I am listening to his book when his story came on TV. I enjoyed the television event, and that would have been enough for me. He does describe much of the events from the program in this book, but he drones on and on. I did enjoy his personality and demeanor on television and really wish he had narrated his own book. Perhaps it would have been more enjoyable. The narrator spoke with such a high British accent, that it just didn't sound like a 28 year old man. This all added to the boredom. Although I understand the attention to detail for persons with autistic disorders, there was just too much in this book. If anyone wants a great read about someone with Asperger's try reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. I just listened to it yesterday, and laughed the whole way through. Maybe that was the cause of my disappointed with this book.
This is such a beautiful glimpse into the mind of someone with autism. This will help me understand and relate in a new way with my nephew who is autistic.
Unless one was visually handicapped being a child from the 50's, we were all the same. In my family it was "nothing is wrong with your brother". Just 2 years ago a friend told me to look up Asperger in regarding my brother, I found that this is his bio! I have since read up on Asperger's but this book gives me some incite on how he thinks. Although Daniel is functional in different ways than my brother I now have more of an understanding of what world my brother lives in and when I can educate him to the "new world" and when I need to let things go.
Very inspiring story, fascinating events
The monotonous tone was hard to get used to and obsession for numbers, but soon I found it very endearing and understood much further the difficulties of autism, and was even more in awe at Daniel's personal achievements and willingness to take on such large risks early in his life. The willingness to go out and make something of himself is in no way to be taken lightly. Well done!
I get it. The idea that words and numbers can have shape, color, feelings...I totally get it. When I was young, I didn't like certain numbers. 7, 8, and 9, specifically. But enough about me....
I have a great-nephew who scores on the high end of the autistic spectrom. Although, as I expect all who fall into the autistic spectrum disorder category will say, his experience does not echo Daniel Tammet's, it was helpful to me to gain some understanding of what bright lights, sudden noises, and crowds can feel like. It was reassuring to know that Daniel grew up and learned to deal with the world, that he found a life-partner to share with, that he made it to David Letterman!
And I have yet to listen to a book narrated by Simon Vance that I haven't enjoyed!
I found the descriptions of Tammet's experience of autism to be very interesting. I was very moved by his courage in moving far from home and making bis own way- and also admired his parents for supporting him!
I was glad to have read the book, but found the latter half of the book less captivating.
I have not read the print version, so I have no idea. But I do feel the narration was wonderful and, I'm sure, added to the interest of the story.
When he recited pi - I could feel the tension and emotion. Also, it was his defining moment to the world - he was able to say, "look at me, I may be odd, but I have an extraordinary gift - SEE ME!"
the emotion he brought to a story about a man who has difficulty with emotion. His voice was like a bridge that crossed that sea of understanding.
Yes, when he met the man who would become his life companion. There is someone out there for everyone - keep an open mind and heart!
I took a chance on this book because I wasn't sure I would really like it. So glad I did! I hope this review will encourage others to do the same. It's a powerful story that I won't soon forget!
I will soon be eighty one years young. I have had a very interesting life learning from it as well as enjoying it. I just published a book.
I had thought that I would learn more about savants, which is a subject I have found of great interest. This book was much more than that to me. Let me state here that I am not autistic, or am I a savant, yet I found so much in Daniel that is me.The book has taught me much about myself.I unlike other reviewers find Daniel not to be at all self-indulgent instead being honest, very honest! This I am afraid is a virtue which is not as common today as it could, and should be.Those who read this book and who did not find the value of this within it I believe missed the purpose and meaning of it's writing. A wonderful story interesting and with great purpose.
I had never read the print version, but the Audible edition was an interesting story that helps make a person think about the way their mind works.
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