Jennifer (JC-S)'s Reviews > Born on a Blue Day: A Memoir of Asperger's and an Extraordinary Mind

Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet
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Jan 31, 11

bookshelves: librarybooks
Read in February, 2011

‘It’s just the way my brain works.’

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. Sometimes I will read a sentence in a book over and over again because of the way the words make me feel inside.’

Daniel’s story is inspiring: generally autistic savants are not able to either live independently or express themselves as clearly as he does. This means, as well, that Daniel can be (and is) of great assistance to those researching autism. I am looking forward to reading his second book, ‘Embracing the Wide Sky’ which was published in 2009.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Nancy (new)

Nancy I remember loving this book. Nice review.


Jennifer (JC-S) Thank you.


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