Flowers for Algernon
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Flowers for Algernon

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  205,778 ratings  ·  6,274 reviews
WARNING: This book has the same title as the first version of this story, but is the longer -and not suitable for children- extended version. Do not confuse with the original work.

With more than five million copies sold, Flowers for Algernon is the beloved, classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extra...more
Paperback, 311 pages
Published May 1st 2005 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 1959)
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Amy
I first read this book in 8th grade, in my english class. I remembered enjoying it, being fascinated in how the author painted the picture that I really was reading Charlie's journal by use of spelling, grammar and punctuation related to the level Charlie was at when writing the entries. What I didn't know at the time was the people who created the text book I used felt it was okay to chop whole chapters out of the middle of the book. They felt pulling out whole sections was okay in the name of...more
Emily May
I am finding it hard to put into words the vast range of emotions I experienced whilst reading this little tale of hope, perseverance, truth and humanity. When it comes to science fiction, I would hesitate before declaring myself a fan, simply because there's only a certain amount of aliens, spaceships and intergalactic battles I can take before I start to become distracted. A good action scene on a distant planet only takes my enjoyment so far and the books I have enjoyed most from this genre t...more
Simon
This has to be one of my favourite sub-genres; psychological science fiction. This is up there with the likes of A Scanner Darkly and More Than Human. These are the sort of SF books that I would recommend to those who look down on the genre.

This book explores such themes as the nature of intelligence, the effects of intelligence on the way you see others and the world around you, as well as social attitudes towards people with mental problems.

The narrative structure is a series of progress repo...more
Rita
Sep 25, 2013 Rita rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone, especially those who like to experience emotional journeys.
One of the most touching stories ever written. And no, it's not Romance! It's Sci-Fi. This is a first person narrative that has been written as a series of progress reports from a deeply retarded man, who can barely be considered literate. His writing is ful of bad grammar and spelling mistakes. At first, if you are not prepared for it, this makes this book a little hard to read, and some passages even have to be re-read a couple of times before you understand them. Our protagonist goes through...more
Cassy
This book was hidden in plain sight. Meaning I was surprised to realize the majority of my Goodreads friends had already read a book that I had never heard of before. Correct me if I am wrong, but I suspect it was a requisite high school read for many.

One reviewer mentioned the abridged version he read in school had trimmed all the sexual bits. What a shame! I may have arrived late, but at least that meant I was introduced to the raw version. The investigation of a 32 year old man struggling fo...more
Monique

Original post here.

"..the men of the cave would say of him that up
he went and down he came without the eyes..."
- Plato


There hasn't been a book - so far - that has moved me to tears like Flowers for Algernon did. I still had several pages to go before the end of the novel, but already I was clumsily wiping my eyes and runny nose, concealing my face from my husband lest he think me silly for crying over a book.

Flowers for Algernon is about Charlie Gordon, a 33-year-old mental retardate whose (in)...more
Manny
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael
When I was in junior high school the movie Charly was big. Everyone saw it, and one girl, I can’t remember her name, had a Charly protective book cover and was so obsessed with the movie that she’d write the name, with the backwards “R” on everything, including adding it as a middle name to her own name on tests and papers she would hand in. She was in all the school plays and sang beautifully so my guess is her connection was with the play and the movie as opposed to the subject of the story. O...more
Kristen
I liked this book because I too have a filthy rat for a friend.
Stephen
6.0 stars. On my list of All Time Favorites. This book's emotional impact on me was significant. I read it almost 17 years ago and it still sticks in my mind as one of the most heart-wrenching SF stories ever written. It is a short book and an easy read (as far as being able to get through it quickly) but VERY, VERY powerful. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!

Winner: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1967)
Nominee: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Award
Voted to Locus list of All Time...more
Diane
This book was just as powerful as it was when I first read it in 8th grade.*

I love stories in which a character gets smarter, and I liked how Keyes showed Charlie's transformation from a "retardate" to genius, and how Charlie suddenly understood his world better. But what goes up, must come down, and the last part of the story is heartbreaking. The story raises so many questions: Is it ethical to experiment on humans? Was Charlie better off when he was smart? Or was ignorance bliss?

I would rec...more
Jim
If you haven't read it, you should. I never re-read this book, although I get it out & look at it occasionally. It's too heart breaking.

Charlie, the title of the movie made from this book & the name of the hero, is retarded. Science gives him intelligence, along with Algernon, a lab rat. The story is told through Charlie's diary & feels very personal. Very well done.


*** Spoiler Alert *****



Charlie gains intelligence, love & yet no mastery of his fate. He becomes a genius & the...more
My Inner Shelf
Si dans votre entourage vous avez des personnes qui n’ont un mauvais a priori sur le SF, offrez-leur ce livre, cela leur montrera l’étendue des thèmes d’une genre aussi vaste que profond. Avec ce roman on touche au sublime. Une histoire poignante, celle d’un jeune homme attardé mental, qui souhaite plus que tout devenir intelligent. Une fois son rêve réalisé, il prend conscience du monde qui l’entoure, des individus, et aussi de lui-même en tant qu’être humain, avec son passé, et ses souvenirs j...more
Maciek
How strange it is that people of honest feelings and sensibility, who would not take advantage of a man born without arms or legs or eyes—how such people think nothing of abusing a man born with low intelligence.

This book tricked me. It's the 25th novel released as a part of the SF Masterworks, but it's hardly science-fictiony - which is totally not what I expected: I thought that the novel would be set in deep space and would serve as a commentary on the (mis)use of new, extraordinary technolog...more
Hui Lin
Mar 22, 2008 Hui Lin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who wants to know MORE about people with disabilities
Shelves: 09th
Flowers for Algernon 2004, 311 pp.,$7.99
Daniel Keyes ISBN 9780156030083
“My name is Charlie Gordon…I am 32 years old…I don’t no why Im dumb…or what I did rong. Maybe its because I dint try hard enuf. ” Charlie Gordon isn’t like any adults that you see on the street. In this novel, Flowers for Algernon Charlie is a man who is naturally born with low IQ. But he does one thing that almost none of the men you see on the street could do. He changes the history of science with his hard work and persis...more
Dawn
This felt... Profound. That sounds lame, but it's accurate for me. While I was reading this, it felt like each and every word was being burned into my heart. I've always been drawn to handicapped characters (my younger brother is handicapped, so I have a soft spot), and this was no exception. But beyond Charlie's handicap, to then to watch his progression throughout the book.. It bought to mind so many questions. Most of them are unanswerable, but still, it made me think. This is the kind of boo...more
Apatt
"She said for a person who God gave so little to you did more than a lot of people with brains they never even used. I said that all my friends are smart people and their good. They like me and they never did anything that wasnt nice. Then she got something in her eye and she had to run out to the ladys room."
Ah! Right in the feels! (Don't worry about the typos, they are supposed to be there!).

I read Flowers for Algernon decades ago in its original short story form, this is one of those stories...more
Andrea
The short novel packs the most powerful emotional punch of any book I have ever read, far greater than that of the denoument of Ender's game. It so transcends the vast majority of science fiction of the 20th century that it is hard to write a review that gives its genius true justice.
For those who have not read it, is a must - in its 200 odd pages it explores so many fundamental issues facing us in wresting with our own human nature. Most of all it is an exploration of how do we decide the value...more
Anne
There is nothing specific in this book that dates it -- it could have been written 4 years ago instead of 40 -- except for it's obsession with a certain brand of psychology and sex with near strangers. In this way, it just screams "I WAS WRITTEN IN THE 60s!"

I dunno. Books from this era just bug me in general. They are so smugly sure of their analysis of the whys and wherefores of human nature, yet they still cling to the archetypes. Charlie knows The Puffed-up Scientist and The Down-to-earth Sci...more
Becky
Flowers for AlgernonI have three confessions to make:

1) I never read this book in school.

2) For some reason, this book is associated with the A-bomb in my mind. No idea why.

3) There was beer at my bookclub meeting, and I drank a goodish amount of it, so this review may ramble.

Needless to say, Flowers for Algernon was very, very different than I had always thought. I honestly cannot tell you why I thought that... just that I did. It's just one of those weird association things that people have. O...more
Lit Bug

This book had a wonderful premise – Charlie Gordon, a 32-year old mentally retarded man, but kind, warm and enthusiastic to become ‘smart’ like his peers, is chosen for an experiment to increase his IQ – after the experiment was successful on Algernon, a white lab mouse. With a successful operation, he starts gaining ‘smartness’ exponentially, and over the course of several months, turns into a genius – but at a price – not only does he learn about the bitter truths of living in a cruel world, b...more
Lucy
Another familiar title perched atop the "most commonly banned books in America." With that kind of attention, I just can't help myself.

I loved it. I really loved it. I even cried at the end, which is so, so rare these days (unless I read Nicholas Sparks who always seems to get me at the end with his overtly emotional drama. Blast him.).

Charlie Gordon is a thirty-two mentally retarded man with an IQ of 70. He works as a janitor and errand boy in a bakery and considers his life good and happy bec...more
Wil Wheaton
Heartbreaking and beautiful. Required reading, as far as I am concerned.
Lowed
Algernon-Gordon Syndrome

The power indicator lit up and a humming sound from the amplifier was audible to the sensory perceptions. I pressed the number five button on the remote to get to the music I intend to listen to, and Gilman started to be heard from the speakers:

♫ "My time on Earth
Long as it seems
Is just a moment
In the grande scheme of things

A short refrain
Of life's endless song
Sung only once
And then we're gone" ♪

Reading Flowers of Algernon has caused me to believe that a person's existenc...more
Cheryl in CC NV
I've actually re-read this book a few times. I almost never do re-read books.

ETA May 2012. Since the last time I read this, I've read lots of fiction and non-fiction on brain science. Memoirs of people with autism, popular psychology, fiction about our cousins the Great Apes, neuro- and cognitive- science analyses.... And still this seems perfectly authentic and feels ever so powerful. I do believe I'd enjoy it even now, if I re-read it yet again. I definitely still recommend it.

ETA July 2012. R...more
Thomas
How strange it is that people of honest feelings and sensibility, who would not take advantage of a man born without arms or legs or eyes - how such people think nothing of abusing a man born with low intelligence. It infuriated me to remember that not too long ago I - like this boy - had foolishly played the clown.

And I had almost forgotten.


It's been a long time since a book has sucker punched me in the stomach both intellectually and emotionally. Flowers for Algernon is Charlie Gordon's journa...more
booklady
Fifty year old sci-fi novel which, with a little imagination, doesn't sound dated as so many books in the genre quickly become. In fact, I think I enjoyed this reading of Flowers for Algernon even more than my introduction to the story in high school. Then I identified with Charlie’s acquisition of knowledge and found it incredibly sad when he first lost his friends as he grew cynically ‘smart’ and then regained them only as a result of losing his memory. This time around, I just appreciated the...more
Ariella
An absolutely wonderful page-turner...

A simply incredible portraying of the emotions of humans. A mentally handicapped young man with a heart of gold plunges into the world of adulthood as he agrees to become an experiment to increase his intelligence.

This is officially the sweetest book ever. You will absolutely fall in love with the main character, Charlie, as you read this book. I know I did. This book is an INCREDIBLE example of human nature, and it touched me so much in every way that I eve...more
Guillermo Azuarte

I think I might have rated this a bit higher if this was the first time I experienced this story and hadn't read the short story version when I was in middle school. It is however, a heartbreaking story that I'd recommend to anyone that's not familiar with it. It's the story of what happens when a man with a very low IQ and a mouse named Algernon,become the subjects of an experimental procedure to increase their intelligence.

Much of the story is told in the form of a progress report that the pr...more
Phrynne
Why have I never read this before? It captivated me totally. I actually read it in one sitting because I could not bear to put it down so I am now totally sleep deprived but happy. What a wonderful book despite its sad but necessary ending. I was so glad the author did not try for a fake happy solution to Charlie's problems because in real life there is none. This is a story which makes the readers look at themselves in judgment and know that sometimes we really do these things to others. At the...more
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YA Buddy Readers'...: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes - starts 27 August 1 1 Jul 22, 2014 05:21AM  
Sci Fi Aficionados: * April 2014 Themed Read - Flowers for Algernon 40 56 Jun 18, 2014 04:21PM  
Class of 2014: Flowers for Algernon 3 14 May 02, 2014 11:51PM  
Should Charlie have "stayed the way that God made him?" 19 130 Mar 23, 2014 03:33PM  
EspReaders: February Book Meet-up 5 9 Mar 09, 2014 04:34PM  
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Daniel Keyes was an American author best known for his Hugo award-winning short story and Nebula award-winning novel Flowers for Algernon. Keyes was given the Author Emeritus honor by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2000.

Keyes was born in Brooklyn, New York City, New York. At age 17, he joined the U.S. Maritime Service as ship's purser. He obtained a B.A. in psychology from B...more
More about Daniel Keyes...
The Minds of Billy Milligan Fifth Sally Algernon, Charlie, and I: A Writer's Journey Flowers for Algernon The Play of Flowers for Algernon

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“I don’t know what’s worse: to not know what you are and be happy, or to become what you’ve always wanted to be, and feel alone.” 309 likes
“Thank God for books and music and things I can think about."

--Charlie Gordan”
236 likes
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