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Selected Works Of T.S. Spivet

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  5,619 ratings  ·  1,348 reviews
When twelve-year-old genius cartographer T.S. Spivet receives an unexpected phone call from the Smithsonian announcing he has won the prestigious Baird Award, life as normal-if you consider mapping family dinner table conversations normal- is interrupted and a wild cross-country adventure begins, taking T.S. from his family ranch just north of Divide, Montana, to the muse ...more
Published October 1st 2009 (first published 2009)
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I first found Mr. T.S. Spivet, geographer-savant, while browsing an airport bookstore. Secretly, I was hoping to find something I could download to my Sony eReader, but found myself hopelessly bound to the hardback copy of Larsen's debut novel due to its ingenious inclusion of hundreds of sketches taken from the protagonist's notebooks and journals. Upon reading, I became enraptured at once by the language, the setting, and the powerful characters. By page 103, I knew I had found a new favorite ...more
There are some books that touch me more than others, some characters that I love to love and love to hate.

But nothing and no one has made my heart ache the way this book has. In this book, Reif Larsen has created a story so beautiful in its simplicity and at the same time, filled with layers and layers of complexity. This book reminds me of ancient artifacts, items handled with loving care through time, to be held in your hands with reverence and wonder that something can last so long and be so
I started this book ravenously--Science! Youth! Grief!--then I lost momentum. Then I fell into it again--Adventure! Bloodshed! Secret Societies!--then I became cynical about it. (One character says, “Grief, youth, science… People are so goddamn predictable. I should write a book about how to suckerpunch people into caring.”) When I finally finished it, I put it down with a fair respect for both its accomplishments and its shortcomings.

Here’s the hook: 12-year-old cartographer genius Tecumseh Spa
This book has great shelf appeal. It's got a gazillion illustrations ostensibly by our first-person narrator, a 12-year-old cartographer and technical illustrator from Montana—in bygone days he would be a naturalist—living with an entomologist mom, a bronco-busting dad, a sister older than her years, and the memory of a dead brother. The prose reveals a quirky character and rewards slow going.

But here's the problem: I'm only a couple dozen pages in and there are mistakes. It could be the problem
You might think that novel readers would be pretty immune to the scourge of looksism (if you haven’t got the looks you ism worth my time) which saturates the rest of the entertainment biz. There is the lure of the pretty cover, of course – who doesn’t want to be seen in public with this on your arm

Rather than this

But we aren’t like 14, we have better reasons when we choose our novels than just the sexy covers, don’t we? Yeah, sure we do. We’ve half-read a review somewhere or somebody mentioned
What a charming idea: Brilliant 12-year old boy "maps" his way through life, with the book including many of these maps and other illustrations in the margin. In theory, a Tom Sawyer-esque tail of adventurous travel from Montana to Washington, D.C.

Well, in reality, not so charming, not so entertaining, something of a slog, and as the illustrations most often come with writing, really a novel with footnotes. One needs to be careful with these... If the writer is to drag the reader away from the s
note that this is oversize, because of all the maps, diagrams, etc., in the margins - which definitely enrich the story so don't skip them...

The main character isn't even in puberty yet, but he 'maps' every aspect of his life, and has developed such skill in draftsmanship that the Smithsonian, not realizing he's a kid, invites him to Washington. He's innocently self-centered, and while smart enough to know his parents have their own lives, opinions, etc., he doesn't really take them into account
Well, what do you know. After a string of bedazzling reads (Crowley, Dunnett, and Murray), my disillusionment with contemporary lit continues apace.

A twelve year old genius cartographer with a quirky and symbolic name has blah blah adventures on a train en route to picking up a prize at the Smithsonian which he is too young to have honestly qualified for (meaning: misinformation was entered on the official application form. mothers were mislead. important people were lied to!) and for which he h
I have been bored out of my mind for the last week.

Weirdly the thing that I remember most from my 9 years of playing the clarinet is what Mr. Granholm told me about the end of a concert. It people clap immediately after a song ends that is a terrible sign. It means that they were waiting for the song to end. (Think clapping between movements). you want them to wait because they are so into the music that they are shocked that it has ended. Well I was waiting for this book to end basically from
The illustrations in the margins are ingenious, yes, and I don't believe I've ever held a prettier book in my hands. From the cover, the drawings, the colors, it's amazing.

And now to the hard part.

I feel like this book had a lot of potential. It started off amazingly, it picked up great momentum once our hero got on the train.... and then it wasted 1/3 of the book a side-story of Emma and her life, which I thought was completely unnecessary and had no place in the book. If the pages of this sto
When the Smithsonian decides to award genius cartographer T. S. Spivet the presitigious but little-known Baird Award, they are completely unaware that young T. S.--short for Tecumseh Sparrow--is actually a twelve-year-old prodigy addicted to mapping everything, from family dinner conversations to Loneliness on the streets of Chicago. The Smithsonian also doesn't know that T. S. has no way of getting to Washington, D.C. from his family's Montana ranch, but that doesn't stop him from hopping a tra ...more
The first half of this book is some of the best fiction i've EVER read. The characters are interesting and believable but quirky, the setting is beautiful, the situation they're in is moving. There are these luscious rich maps and drawings and sidebars that you read with loving tenderness and joy, and that really move the plot along.
And then halfway through the whole thing just turns into drivel. The main character's personality disappears and you begin to feel like you're reading the author's
The story of a 12 year-old making his way from Montana to D.C. to accept an award? Not the usual fiction on my reading list. Yet reading Reif Larsen's first novel had me engaged from beginning to end. I may have been pursuaded about the value of his work after listening to his interview with Diane Riehm ( But really, I appreciate the introduction to new authors and am drawn to first works. T. S. Spivet as brought to life by Reif Larsen was not a disappointment. I do not see how thi ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Here we have one of the most unique and extraordinary debut novels I have ever come across, the author Reif Larsens is a 27 year old American and this novel caused one of the biggest bidding wars by publishers in history - resulting in a £1m price tag for the publishers.

First let take a look at the actual book itself. Mine is a proof copy, so not quite the finished article but it's going to be one of those eye-catchers that will jump from the bookshop shelves at people. The book is wider than th
I can only hope that when Reif Larsen writes his second novel that it can compete with this one. The plot is simple: A 12 year old map making genius wins a prestigious award from the Smithsonian, and runs away from his home in Montana in order to travel across the country and claim it. The adventures of T.S. Spivet as he navigates his way both in a physical sense from Montana to Washington D.C., and in a mental sense through his interactions with mystifying adults as well as with his own bizarre ...more
Perhaps among my favorite books read in the past, oh, five years – and that’s saying a lot, as I’ve read some jim dandies. The fact is, I think I would have enjoyed this book even without the maps – they are just an added bonus. My favorites, for pure laughter-inducing purposes:

Page 16: Father Drinks Whiskey With a Sensational Degree of Regularity
Page 107: Down on Your Luck? Ride the Rails!
Page 290: Recipe for Gracie’s Wintertime Special
Page 338: FTUFMBEF Map #4: Clara and Jamie’s First Day at t
T.S. is a prodigy of cartography. He is only twelve years old, and he sees his whole world through the lens of mapping. He creates maps of movement, sociological phenomena, all of the possible moves from the starting position in Cat's Cradle... The possibilities are literally endless. All of his maps feature technical drawings so precise and aesthetically pleasing that he regularly publishes his maps in magazines like Smithsonian and Science.

He does all this from a ranch in Montana. His dad is
Five stars because this was one of the most unique books I have ever come across... the story itself is a first-person narrative by T.S. Spivet (Tecumseh Sparrow, the first name passed down four generations), a 12-year-old cartographer and illustrator. The story begins just before T.S. receives a phone call from the Smithsonian that he has been awarded the very prestigious Baird fellowship as "America's Illustrator", in residence at the Smithsonian. Being 12-years old, and too ashamed to mention ...more
I was really excited to see this in the basement of the Brookline Booksmith for just $5. I'd seen it a few months earlier and knew the general story/hype (it's not often that an author gets a 6, let alone 7 figure deal for a book, particularly a first book).

I bought it toward the end of February and read the first 35 pages in a white-heat, captivated by the precocious narrator and his amazing "maps," both of the land, and of the habits of his family member. I particularly loved "Father Drinks Wh
It's true, there's very little else like this. An oversize, square hulk of a book chronicling the cross country journey of TS Spivet as he heads to the Smithsonian to collect a scientific award. All at the tender age of 12.

His insights into the oddities of everyday life and adulthood are punctuated, diverted and embellished by an ongoing collection of maps, technical diagrams, footnotes, and sketches on almost every page that are a joy to behold.

It's the novel equivalent of a low-fi indie come
Jane Snyder

I would give the first section of this book 5 stars; I loved the story of T.S. and his family. But once T.S.'s train ride began, I was annoyed at the suddenly strange fantasy of the continuing tale. We were taken from a sensitive, smart and humorous story about T.S.'s dysfunctional family, about whom I REALLY cared, to a science fiction-like ride across the country that often made no sense to me. I also had no interest in Emma, and think in retrospect the title should be The Selected Works of T
Original review posted on The Book Smugglers:

Tecumseh Sparrow (T.S.) Spivet is the narrator of this story, the unlikely prodigy child of a Montana rancher (the father) and a brilliant yet failed scientist (the mother). At 12, he is already a budding scientist interested in anatomy and entomology (just to name a couple) and an accomplished mapmaker. It is the latter that end up helping him to be granted an award from the Smithsonian Institution . The story opens with the phone call from another
I heard an interview with the author of this book and so when I saw it at Costco, I couldn't resist. It was an interesting book, very different from what I would usually read. It is about a very dysfunctional family that is seen from a 12 year old boy's point of view. The fact that he is genius is beside the point. How he sees them at the beginning and at the end of the story is the story for me. Of course this isn't how the book is described, but how I saw it. I'm sure some will see it as a boy ...more
Alyssia Cooke
This was a book that intrigued me when I saw it in Waterstones, although had it not been on a buy 3 for 2 deal I probably wouldn't have spent the RRP price of £12.99. I think it intrigued me because it seemed like a more adult version of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time', which I had enjoyed. Although the main character does not seem to be autistic, he makes sense of life in a similar way, but instead of using numbers it's drawing maps. Plus, the front cover of the book is amaz ...more
Alison Whittington
T.S. Spivet, an obsessive and nerdy 12-year-old cartographer who maps everything in his life and is too mature in the way of really smart kids, somehow manages to flatly and critically describe his surroundings and his family members, even while, almost as if he is unaware of it, he conveys an striking amount of compassion and love for his family. It's that subtle emotion - that humanity - that gives this book its charm, even as T.S. heads out on an inexplicable adventure that left me baffled as ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I had great expectations for this book, which perhaps tainted my opinion when it failed to live up to them. The illustrations are incredible - detailed, humorous, witty, charming. But throughout the novel I kept thinking that without the visuals there is little that sets the narrative apart.

As much as I wanted to like the main character, his precocious adolescent personality seemed like a poor immitation of the marvelous protagonist Nick Twisp from "Youth in Revolt" or of Blue van Meer from "Sp
This is a coming-of-age novel about 12 year old T.S. Spivet, scientific genius and skilled map maker and illustrator. T.S. wins a prize from the Smithsonian and decides to find his way to Washington D.C. from his home in Montana to accept the prize. His family don't know and apparently don't care too much, and so his adventure begins.

The book is beautifully illustrated with margin notes and drawings helping you to see the world through T.S.'s eyes. His imagination is still strong despite his sci
Аделина 'Змей' Генова

Колко време ми отне наслаждаването на “Избраните творби на Т. В. Спивет“ само аз си знам и искрено се забавлявах с Врабеца през цялото време. Радвах се на графиките и рисунките в полето. Проследявах мисълта му и логическите връзки, които изграждаше, за да обясни обграждащия го свят. Пътувах и се страхувах с него.

Истината е, че вече някъде в главата си нареждам поредицата от книги, които някой ден ще дам на детето си и отсега виждам Текумсе някъде в началото на ре
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Reif Larsen (b. 1980) is an American author, best known for The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet.
Larsen is a graduate of Brown University and Columbia University. Living in New York.
More about Reif Larsen...
I Am Radar The Puppet (One Story, #137) The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books Tin House 44: Summer Reading, Volume 11, Number 4 NOT A BOOK Selected Works of T. S. Spivet, the 12c Floor Display

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“Outside, there was that predawn kind of clarity, where the momentum of living has not quite captured the day. The air was not filled with conversation or thought bubbles or laughter or sidelong glances. Everyone was sleeping, all of their ideas and hopes and hidden agendas entangled in the dream world, leaving this world clear and crisp and cold as a bottle of milk in the fridge. ” 35 likes
“I had trouble listening to adults who didn't really mean anything that they said; it was as if their language poured into my ears only to drain right out a little spigot in the back of my head.” 24 likes
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