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Struck by Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel
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Struck by Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  1,053 ratings  ·  195 reviews
The remarkable story of an ordinary man who was transformed when a traumatic injury left him with an extraordinary gift

No one sees the world as Jason Padgett does. Water pours from the faucet in crystalline patterns, numbers call to mind distinct geometric shapes, and intricate fractal patterns emerge from the movement of tree branches, revealing the intrinsic mathematical
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 22nd 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2014)
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Nancy Kennedy
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
On a September night in 2002, Jason Padgett was brutally beaten outside a bar. He suffered a traumatic brain injury that literally turned him into a different person. Before the crime, he was a happy-go-lucky, 31-year-old bar-hopping player. Afterward, he became a "mathematical marvel," as the subtitle says, obsessed with the geometric fractal patterns he sees everywhere -- in a stream of running water, a line of trees, a ray of light glinting off a car hood.

The world becomes a fascinating place
Diane S ☔
Apr 22, 2014 rated it liked it
I had to finish this book much faster than I wanted to, it was due back at the library and someone else was waiting for it. This young man has been through such a tremendous ordeal, from the initial beating to his recovery, PTSD and the new things of which his brain now seemed capable. I can't imagine at all waking up and finding out I was capable of grasping the most intricate math problems, as well as his new way of seeing in geometric forms, a form of synesthesia which he did not have prior t ...more
Elly Sands
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you are interested in the brain and how it works this is the book for you. A fascinating real life story about how a violent mugging shattered a man's life...or did it? For the author,Jason, this was a true life changing event. He may as well have died and been reborn because that's how different he was. An intriguing story watching him trying to understand his new world. We get to see how very differently he "sees". This book truly shows that life is much deeper than what meets the eye. It g ...more
Apr 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting when it stayed on the main topic of the change in his thinking, etc. However, a lot of specifics about his very narrow field of interest in fractal geometry. I took math up through calculus (and got an A in that), but I found it gobbledy-gook and skimmed through a lot of it. It could have been significantly shortened, with more focus on the human interest aspects, and been better for it.
Feb 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biographical
Interesting, and the author runs a store in Tacoma.
Jason Anthony
Aug 31, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book is awful and I don't think I have ever stated that on this site before. I was unable to finish it, which should disqualify me from writing a review, but I want to write one anyway to dissuade others from reading this self-aggrandizing mess because the premise is too enticing to pass up.

The idea is fascinating and drew me in immediately: an average Joe is badly beaten, has a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and comes out of it a "mathematical marvel." Sounds like a thoughtful piece and a
Like Su Meck, Jason Padgett suffered a traumatic brain injury (both use the term “2.0” to describe their new persona) and has written a memoir with the help of a cowriter. The problem here is that I don’t believe I’m getting Padgett’s “real” voice. Somehow I fully believed I was encountering Su Meck and her personality when I read her very enjoyable I Forgot to Remember. Here, though, the voice is all Seaberg’s – I feel I can say that with certainty because the book opens with a note from her pe ...more
May 10, 2014 rated it liked it
I love books about the workings of the human mind, and the true story of a party boy who becomes a mathematical genius after surviving a mugging seemed like it was right up my alley. Unfortunately his newly-discovered genius did not extend to writing, and even with a co-author, the writing was labored and repetitive. What would have been a fascinating article in the New Yorker was a dull slog through the self-absorbed ramblings of a Rain Man wanna-be. Do yourself a favor and skip this in favor o ...more
Alison Smith
May 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Jason Padgett is a very ordinary guy - he gets mugged outside a bar one night, and his head injuries result savant syndrome, coupled with synasthesia. Plenty of info about synesthesia, the workings of the brain, and so on. Interesting.
Courtney Williams
Jun 29, 2015 rated it liked it
As someone who studies physics (and therefore lots of maths!) and is also interested in the brain and how it works, this book should have been totally perfect for me. I found out about it through an interview with the authors on an episode of "Science For The People". I wasn't planning to seek it out, but I happened across it in the library and, after picking it up and putting it down at least once, decided to give it a go.

One thing I feel like this book got really right was the balance between
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-medicine
This book is the story of a series of remarkable transformations. We meet Jason Bladgett as a bar-hopping gym rat with a rather messy family life. During one of those bar expeditions, he is violently mugged, suffering a traumatic brain injury. When he recovers, he is suddenly able to see beautiful and fascinating geometrical patterns in everything he sees : water swirling down a drain, sunlight bursting through leaves, the veins in his hand. He also become synesthetic.(Transformation 1). Unfortu ...more
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
My other half found this book in the library and checked it out for me, as he had a feeling I would like it. I'm not sure how some arrive at the idea that he is talking down to anyone or lifting himself up. That didn't strike me as being the case at all. Instead, it's a look at how dramatically his life has changed since his brain injury. He does explain mathematical concepts and how he sees the world, but I found that interesting as well. Or maybe it's just that psychology and mathematics are b ...more
Apr 13, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf, non-fiction
This is a non-fiction account of a man who became a genius after a head injury. The main problem with this was the writing style; one of the things Jason says he lost after the injury was the ability to concentrate on reading and writing. So this book is a joint venture between him and Maureen Seaberg but is told from first person all the way through. The inner workings of the brain are a complete mystery and the science bits trying to explain what happened are interesting. However the chapters ...more
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Disclaimer: I received this book through the Goodreads First Reads program.

Jason Padgett was living a rather meandering life, working during the day and partying at night. One night, while leaving a bar, he is mugged and severely beaten, suffering brain trauma. While recovering, he begins to see the world in fractal, geometric patterns (though he doesn't know this at the time). Thus begins his journey to acquire the vocabulary needed to explain what he's seeing and to understand his synesthesia
B Sarv
Jan 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I found the telling of Jason's story a bit repetitive. There were, however, a lot of upsides to the book. One of the things I came to appreciate was how, as his story unfolded, he inadvertently exposed the extent of ableism that people are exposed to. One especially moving story was of his encounter with two persons with Cerebral Palsy. He frequently refers to how fortunate he was in his journey, and I agree. I am certain many people who undergo similar injuries end up homeless because they do n ...more
Maureen Grigsby
Apr 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a riveting story about a man who was severely beaten in a robbery, but due to his injuries, acquired synthesthesia abilities (where numbers invoked shapes, and flowing water became web-like). Today, Jason Padgett sees fractals when he looks at trees, has acquired math and drawing skills that are nothing short of phenomenal, and sees light in an entirely new way. His unusual trauma induced abilities are being studied by brain experts and may lead to changes in the way we think of latent a ...more
Carol Zanetti
Jul 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was excited to read this story, both for the crime, psychology and human interest elements, and for the math and physics aspects. I was a bit apprehensive, though, due to some early reviews. But I find Jason and his story extremely interesting and curious. I find myself liking him more as the story progresses. I'm enjoying this book very much.
Karyn Gayle
Apr 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful read. I've read a few biographies on "regular" people who have experienced savant-like abilities after a brain injury. It's so fascinating. This book made me want to get knocked over the head ;-)
Jul 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I never knew that a circle isn't round until I read this book. It was worth it just for that insight into pi.

And then there's a lot of other cool stuff to think about, besides the interesting story of Jason Padgett and his brain injury.

Highly recommended.
Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Dude gets jumped by thugs, who pound his head with their fists and boots. Because of this, he becomes a savant with incredible math and art skills. Still, you shouldn't punch people you don't know.
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
Extraordinary biographical story with wider implications for brain research and other related fields.
May 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow! The beauty and the mystery of the mind! This is a fascinating and worthwhile read!!!
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Really fascinating and inspiring book...what an amazing journey!
Jun 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fascinating read. For everyone from scientists to philosophers and even to hippies and yogis. Check it out, or if not at least check out this guy's drawings of Pi.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it liked it
I give this book a 3.5 star rating. I really liked the content, it's one of the most fascinating memoirs that I've read, but somehow some parts were a little draggy and so I can't say I enjoyed all of it, so I couldn't give it 4 stars. That it was written by another author who wasn't the protagonist also made the book lose its voice somewhat.

The human brain contains vast potential. Jason discovered this when he suffered brain damage and suddenly unlocked certain parts of the brain - he started
Chase Parsley
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
I give "Struck by Genius" only a so-so rating. The main character, Jason Padgett, randomly becomes a mathematical genius after a mugging. I admire his life story and it certainly is an example of how amazing stuff can happen to anyone. The book goes fast and is written well. However, it wasn't as good as I hoped it would be.

After the backstory, the mugging, and the aftermath, I especially lost interest in the last part of the book, when it focuses on his diagnosis and new life opportunities. May
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
What an interesting account on how the brain works, and a reminder to not take the little things for granted in life. Following the story of the author's traumatic experience that lead him to acquire a rare savant syndrome, I couldn't put the book down. As an artist myself, it was truly inspiring to look at Padgett's fractal drawings, and know that this man was truly a unique human with an incredible ability. For those who are not artistically inclined or have trouble finding the meaning in his ...more
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those interested in broadening their minds
Something for everyone. Tragedy, agoraphobia, science, romance, defeat, failure, physical pain, mental pain, acceptance, confusion, etc....
Padgett sustained a head injury from a mugging attack. Due to this, he spent 4 years in the solktude of his home, afraid of the world. Thanks to the inclusion of the Internet, he finds he has some new mathematical abilities that he did not have prior to the attack. Finally he takes the leap, meets the outside world and starts college.
I found him to be a good
George Crowder
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Struck by Genius is a useful addition to the growing collection of memoirs written by acquired savants-- and I think is primarily of interest to those who have a particular interest in this topic. Some reviewers complain about the inclusion of detailed mathematical discussion of Jason Padgett's drawings. However, other reviewers wish there were actually more math, and lament the many pages devoted to descriptions of Jason's personal challenges in dealing with his accident and its consequences. O ...more
Reading Badger
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I might say that I am lucky that this year I had the opportunity to read two books that present two real cases of uncommon human beings. One of this books is the one that I will talk about today: “Struck by Genius” which is written as an autobiography of Jason Padgett with the help of the journalist Maureen Seaberg.

The book presents the life of an ordinary man, who until his late 20s, early 30s was a partying Tomcat, working at his father’s furniture store and with no interest in science whatsoe
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“I walk around in a near-constant state of inspiration with a great hunger of knowledge, and I read everything I can about math and physics, often developing my own theories along the way.” 0 likes
“Doctors tell me that nothing in my brain was newly created or added when I was injured. Rather, innate but dormant skills were released.” 0 likes
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