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

Daniel Tammet
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 16 2007
A journey into one of the most fascinating minds alive today—guided by the owner himself.

Bestselling author Daniel Tammet (Thinking in Numbers) 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.

Frequently Bought Together

Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant + Embracing the Wide Sky: A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind + Thinking In Numbers: On Life, Love, Meaning, and Math
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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 Tammet traces his life from a frustrating, withdrawn childhood and adolescence to his adult achievements, which include teaching in Lithuania, achieving financial independence with an educational Web site and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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is notable not for what is says but how it is said. Tammet lives a very simple, highly regimented life and the writing style seems to reflect this. He is unable to differentiate between what others would find intriguing about his life and what is simple mundane, which makes for some dull reading sometimes until you realize that you are seeing into a very unusual mind. Very detailed accounts of his personal hygiene routine are given equal weight with his recitation of pi to 22,000 decimals. He also provides alot of trivia about topics only tangientially related to his story but again this is probably typical of someone with his traits. Overall, it is not really a "page turner" but does have some very interesting content.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Stephen Pletko TOP 50 REVIEWER

"I have a rare condition known as savant syndrome...Like most individuals with savant syndrome, I am also on the autistic spectrum...By writing about my own experiences of growing up on the autistic spectrum, it is my hope that I can help other...people living with high-functioning autism...to feel less isolated and to have confidence in the knowledge that it is ultimately possible to lead a happy and productive life."

The above is found at the beginning of this unique book by Daniel Tammet who is a British high-functioning autistic savant.

Savant syndrome or savantism is a rare condition in which persons with developmental disorders (including autism spectrum disorders, ASD) have one or more areas of expertise, ability, or brilliance that contrasts with the person's overall limitations. It can be either genetic or acquired. (ASD are widespread abnormalities of social interactions and communication, as well as restricted interests and repetitive, orderly behaviour.)

This book is a memoir or essentially an autobiography. Tammet talks about how Asperger's syndrome (a high-functioning form of autism), epilepsy (neurological condition characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures), & synaesthesia (he sees numbers & letters in colour and associates numbers with emotions, shapes, and textures) deeply affected his childhood and, despite having these problems, how he was eventually able to lead a happy and productive life.

The last few chapters of the book chronicle what Tammet's mental abilities have enabled him to do. For example, he recited Pi (3.14...) to over 22,500 digits (setting a British record) and was able to learn Icelandic (a very difficult language) in one week.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Born on a Blue Day Jan. 12 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I just finished reading this book and I really enjoyed. My son has recently been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and it really provided insight for me. I saw a lot of similarities in the personally. I would recommend this book to everyone who is interested in gaining insight into this condition. You will really appreciate it and gain an understanding to what individuals living with Aspergers go though and the their fabulous minds. They really are quite brilliant.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent May 29 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bought this book for my son... He is happy with it. He says it is a good read, also quick ship...thank you
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5.0 out of 5 stars `It's just the way my brain works.' Jan. 31 2011
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 50 REVIEWER
In this memoir, Daniel Tammet recounts his early life, of growing up as part of a large and loving family, and of becoming aware that he is different from those around him. Daniel has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism, and has had epilepsy.

What is particularly wonderful about this book is that Daniel is able to write so clearly of the way in which he experiences the world. He may have some of the isolating features of autism, but he is able to write about his perceptions of the world in a way which those of us who are not autistic can understand.

Daniel's particular form of autism is combined with synaesthesia, an unusual ability to see numbers, words and letters as shapes and colours, sometimes involving motion and texture. This enhances Daniel's capacity for recognising particular patterns and has enabled his ability to learn languages as well as to memorise pi to 22,514 decimal places.

Speaking of this achievement, Daniel writes:
`Why learn a number like pi to so many decimal places? The answer I gave then as I do now is that pi is for me an extremely beautiful and utterly unique thing. Like the Mona Lisa or a Mozart symphony, pi is its own reason for loving it.'

Daniel is an autistic savant, and displays extraordinary capabilities in relation to memory, calculation and language. He can undertake very large calculations in his head, and is also able to learn to fluently speak a language (even one as challenging as Icelandic) in a week.

`The relationship I have with a language is quite an aesthetic one, with certain words and combinations of words being particularly beautiful and stimulating to me.
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