Born on a Blue Day

Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet

Daniel Tammet has a unique brain. Although he has Asperger’s Syndrome, an autistic disorder, he is a savant as well. He lives independently and is capable of telling others what’s going on inside his head. And that’s just what he does in this memoir.

Being a savant, Tammet can perform mathematical calculation as quickly as someone else who is using a calculator. He has learned several languages, each in only a few weeks. Yet his austism lends a need for routine (he eats his porridge at the exact same time daily and brushes his teeth the same number of strokes), for quiet (too much stimulus overwhelms him), and causes him to be very literal (questions like “Don’t you want dessert?” confound him because the negative ‘don’t’ is used). The life of another austistic savant was fictionalized in the movie “Rainman” starring Dustin Hoffman. Perhaps Tammet’s nickname ‘Brainman’ is a play on this movie title. Unlike the Rainman, Tammet has been able to learn to be social, has attended school with other students, has found a life partner, became a Christian, and makes a living by creating web-based language-learning programs.

Tammet’s experiences are incredible—he’s been the subject of a film documentary and has memorized and recited the number pi up to the 22,514th digit to break a world’s record. His description of seeing numbers, as well as words, as shapes and colors—he doesn’t calculate the answers to math problems, but rather sees the answer as a specific color and shape that translates into a number—provides the reader with a rare insight into an incredible mind. A good choice for any number of reasons, including an assignment to read memoir (and a teacher may allow you to select it for a biography assignment since it covers Tammett’s life).

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