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Thinking In Numbers: On Life, Love, Meaning, and Math

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  • Posted September 11, 2013

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    Fascinating and insightful collection of essays. When it comes

    Fascinating and insightful collection of essays.

    When it comes to math and numbers, generally speaking, I am not a fan. I'm a word girl. And yet, in THINKING IN NUMBERS, Daniel Tammet has found a way to help me appreciate the complexity, the magic and, yes, even the beauty he sees in numbers. Early on in this book of essays, Tammet put math into terms I could understand.

    "Like works of literature," he wrote on page 10, "mathematical ideas help expand our circle of empathy, liberating us from the tyranny of a single, parochial point of view. Numbers, properly considered, make us better people."  While I wasn't quite yet sold that numbers make us better people, I was intrigued by the analogy and compelled to keep reading. 

    Tammet is an autistic savant (one who broke the world record for reciting from memory more than 22,500 digits of Pi), and some of his essays are pretty heady. I'll admit, he lost me in a few of them, and I was forced to skim. My brain simply could not wrap around some of his ideas. As a person inspired by words and art, I was most drawn to his essays that related math to those elements. 

    In "Book of Books," Tammet examines the process of novel writing and the infinite possibilities and configurations the author must consider, much like a mathematical equation. And he introduced me to a novel by Julio Cortazar, titled Hopscotch, with a unique structure that enables readers make their own sense of the story. One can read the chapters consecutively from beginning to end, or in reverse order. One can read only the even numbered chapters, or only the prime numbered ones. And each reader will experience a different story. Wow. As a writer, and as a reader, this mathematical concept of a novel structure blew my mind.

    Many of Tammet's essays were thought provoking, some were whimsical. All offered a unique glimpse into the mind of someone who thinks and views the world in ways far different than I. If you love math, or if you enjoy gaining new perspectives on familiar aspects in life, I highly recommend THINKING IN NUMBERS. 

    p.s. I also have read, enjoyed and recommend Tammet's memoir, BORN ON A BLUE DAY.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting book:)

    Interesting book:)

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2013

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