A mathematical savant finds the beauty of numbers in unexpected places. Tammet (Embracing the Wide Sky: A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind, 2009, etc.), a man in love with numbers, reveals more about the mysteries of his mind in this delightful, diverse collection of essays. His topics include the concept of zero, the calendar, prime numbers, chess, time and statistics, but happily, readers need have no previous mathematical skills or knowledge. Several of his pieces have an autobiographical component. His essay on infinity shows him as a young boy discovering the infinity of fractions between two points on his walk home from school, and readers learn of his amazing memory in his account of reciting aloud the decimals of pi to 22,514 places at the University of Oxford's Pi Day. His insights are startling: Tammet sees connections between time tables and proverbs, between prime numbers and haiku, and between rhetoric and math. Trivia fans will find memorable items: His discussion of counting among different cultures reveals that in Icelandic, the word for "four" differs depending on whether one is counting sheep, buses or birthdays, and there is even one astronomer's formula for calculating the number of planets in the galaxy with communicative life. Far from didactic in tone, Tammet fills his essays with stories of real people, from Omar Khayyam to Stephen Jay Gould, from Archimedes and Pythagoras to Tolstoy and Shakespeare, and from Einstein to the author's own mother. The author's fascination with numbers takes him on a wide-ranging tour of history, literature and science, and readers who choose to join him are in for a mind-expanding trip. Great fun and the perfect gift for any math-phobic person, young or old.
"Wonderful essays. Admirers of Tammet's Born on a Blue Day and Embracing the Wide Sky will find here fresh reasons to laud the author's gifts." Booklist (starred review)"
A delightful, diverse collection of essays. Great fun and the perfect gift for any math-phobic person, young or old." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)"
Tammet is a master of gleaning profound insights from seemingly mundane trivia....This is a delightful book." Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed review)"
Autistic savant Daniel Tammet talks numbers, and he does so with evident inspiration and awe. Whether or not readers consider themselves mathematically inclined, they will be enthralled. Tammet enlivens his discussion of numbers with engaging personal components...that render his book a delightful read for a broader audience. This book will charm just about anyone, but will absolutely captivate sci-tech readers with an interest in mathematics." Library Journal (starred review)"
Born on a Blue Day introduced us to the extraordinary phenomenon of Daniel Tammet, and Thinking in Numbers enlarges one's wonder at Tammet's mind and his all-embracing vision of the world as grounded in numbers." Oliver Sacks, MD"
A engrossing blend of autobiography, mathematical theory, and 'what if' speculations, Daniel Tammet's essays allow us to see the world through the lens of numbers. The result is fascinating, even dizzying series of fresh perspectives on things we thought we knew." Billy Collins"
Thinking in Numbers is a mind-expanding, kinetic aesthetic experience. My mind shot off the page, spurred to see universal patterns very much alive in everything from the natural world we share to how imagery and metaphor occur in my own creative process. Tammet's poetic mathematics are beautiful guideposts for thinking about life and even love. As I read, I found myself saying, 'Yes, this is true, and this is true, and this is so true...' " Amy Tan"
Always informative, always entertaining, Daniel Tammet never loses his respect for the mystery of the universe of number." J. M. Coetzee"
Intriguing, provocative - to wrestle with numbers in this way is an adventure." Lydia Davis, author of The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis
"How many mathematicians are dazzling storytellers as well? As it turns out, numbers lend themselves powerfully to the realm of narrative, and no explorer of this region is more innovative than Daniel Tammet. What a joy to read an author whose dexterity with digits is matched by his wisdom with words." David Eagleman, PhD, neuroscientist, author of Incognito and Sum
"As a child in the pre-digital, pre-calculator 1960s, I saved up my allowance money to buy a giant, used, office adding machine. So I approached Daniel Tammet's memoir of hyper-numeracy with a certain sense of kinship. But I was unprepared for the sublime beauty and thoroughgoing charm of his stories. Thinking in Numbers is a magnificently, movingly peculiar and wise book." Kurt Andersen, author of True Believers and host of Studio 360
"In Thinking in Numbers, you realize that no matter how personable the author or how elegantly breezy his tone, he is not like us. What a pleasure it is, however, to peer inside his utterly singular mind." Smithsonian
"Tammet approaches numbers in a brilliantly oblique way. Modern readers may feel their jaws dropping at this book's many mathematical whimsies...A transcendent glimpse at a numerate world." Science News
Autistic savant Daniel Tammet (Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant) talks numbers, and he does so with evident inspiration and awe. Whether or not readers consider themselves mathematically inclined, they will be enthralled. In somewhat autobiographical essays that are conversational in tone Tammet examines topics as disparate as the complexity of snowflakes, the nuances of counting in Icelandic, how big is big, and how Ann Boleyn leaned to count on her eleven fingers. He regales us with discussions that incorporate references to ancient societies, insights into modern usage of language, and sprinkle in the ideas of a wide range of scientists, mathematicians, poets, and novelists. His narration about the time he enumerated the number pi to over 22,000 decimal places is riveting. Tammet enlivens his discussion of numbers with engaging personal components, including a chapter about his mother, an approach that renders his book a delightful read for a broad audience. VERDICT This book will charm just about anyone, but will absolutely captivate sci-tech readers with an interest in mathematics.—Margaret F. Dominy, Drexel Univ. Lib., Philadelphia