Born on a Blue Day
'I was born on 31 January 1979 - a Wednesday. I know it was a Wednesday, because the date is blue in my mind and Wednesdays are always blue, like the number nine or the sound of loud voices arguing.'
Like the character Hoffman portrayed, he can perform extraordinary maths in his head, sees numbers as shapes, colours, textures and motions, and can learn to speak a language fluently from scratch in three days. He also has a compulsive need for order and routine.
He eats exactly 45 grams of porridge for breakfast and cannot leave the house without counting the number of items of clothing he's wearing. If he gets stressed or unhappy he closes his eyes and counts. But in some ways Daniel is not all like the Rain Man.
He is virtually unique amongst people who have severe autistic disorders in being capable of living a fully-functioning, independent life. It is this incredible self-awareness and ability to communicate what it feels like to live in a totally extraordinary way that makes BORN ON A BLUE DAY so powerful.
Daniel Tammet has Savant syndrome, a rare form of Asperger's which gives him the ability to remember long sequences of numbers (seeing the numbers as having various colours and textures) and to be able to learn to speak a language from scratch within a week.
The book isn't just an autobiography. Tammet explains incredibly eloquently about how he experiences numbers and words, giving the reader a glimpse inside an extraordinary mind.
Tammets explores his childhood experiences, the pain of being an outsider at school, how he discovered he was gay and found a loving relationship and most importantly how he experiences the world. I particularly enjoyed the chapters about the teaching assignment he took in Lithuania and learning Lithuanian, something which most of us would find daunting even without autism.
The writing is quite sparse, lacking flowery description, as you might expect being written by someone with such an analytical brain. However there are parts which are still very touching. Tammet has had to teach himself how to function socially, how to read body language and verbal clues. I think if nothing else, this book has taught me that idioms such as 'pull up a chair' or 'feeling under the weather' can be incredibly confusing for people who take language so literally.
A really intersting read. Recommended.
I urge everyone to buy this book straight away!!
Daniel explains his experiences with Asperger's and Savant Syndrome openly and honestly.
You really feel like you know Daniel personally by the time you get to the end!
He has an incredible mind and has achieved far more than I ever will. His ability to learn foreign languages in a week is astounding!
He also has his own website called Optimnem where he has set up tutorials to allow people to learn languages in his own unique way.
I'll be starting that as soon as I get paid!!
Absolutely fantastic book, could not put it down.
This book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the human mind a little better. It is a very personal tale, but reading this book made me re-evaluate how I judge people when I first meet them. Daniel's warmth and intelligence comes through as he tells his life story, but equally it is plain that he would struggle to communicate these qualities at first face to face.
A really fascinating book that may change the way you see the world a little.