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Embracing the Wide Sky: A tour across the horizons of the mind: The Enormous Potential of Your Mind Paperback – 20 Aug 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Embracing the Wide Sky: A tour across the horizons of the mind: The Enormous Potential of Your Mind
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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (20 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340961333
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340961339
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 328,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Daniel Tammet was born in a working-class suburb of London, England, on 31 January 1979, the eldest of nine children. His mother had worked as a secretarial assistant; his father was employed at a sheet metal factory. Both became full-time parents.

Despite early childhood epileptic seizures and atypical behaviour, Tammet received a standard education at local schools. His learning was enriched by an early passion for reading. He won the town's 'Eager Reader' prize at the age of eleven. At secondary school he was twice named Student of the Year. He matriculated in 1995 and completed his Advanced level studies (in French, German, and History) two years later.

In 1998 Tammet took up a volunteer English teaching post in Kaunas, Lithuania, returning to London the following year. In 2002 he launched the online language learning company Optimnem. It was named a member of the UK's 'National Grid for Learning' in 2006.

In 2004, Tammet was finally able to put a name to his difference when he was diagnosed with high-functioning autistic savant syndrome by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen at Cambridge University's Autism Research Centre.

The same year, on March 14, Tammet came to public attention when he recited the mathematical constant Pi (3.141...) from memory to 22,514 decimal places in 5 hours, 9 minutes, without error. The recitation, at the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford, set a European record.

Tammet began writing in 2005. His first book, Born On A Blue Day, subtitled 'A Memoir of Asperger's and an Extraordinary Mind', was first published in the UK in 2006 and became a Sunday Times bestseller. The US edition, published in 2007, spent 8 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. In 2008, the American Library Association named it a 'Best Book for Young Adults'. It was also a Booklist Editors' Choice. It has sold over 500,000 copies worldwide, and been translated into more than 20 languages.

In 2009, Tammet published Embracing the Wide Sky, a personal survey of current neuroscience. The French edition (co-translated by Tammet himself) became one of the country's best-selling non-fiction books of the year. It also appeared on bestseller lists in the UK, Canada, and Germany, and has been translated into numerous languages.

Thinking in Numbers, Tammet's first collection of essays, is published in August 2012.

In 2008 Tammet emigrated to France. He lives in Paris.

Product Description


Entertaining and informative about an impressive range of subjects . . . EMBRACING THE WIDE SKY is fun and inspirational (FT Weekend)

Packed with his clear summaries of fascinating experiments . . . Recent debate has bumped up this book from delightful to vital (Daily Telegraph)

Far from a one-dimensional prodigy, his is a rich multi-textured intelligence. A beautiful mind. (Scotsman Magazine)

truly fascinating (Guardian)

Packed with fascinating new brain research . . . an ambitious book, written by a remarkable man (BBC Focus magazine)

Tammet puts his exceptional abilities to work in his book Embracing the Wide Sky... Tammet's lucid writing makes his book both informative and entertaining. (Courier Mail)

Displaying that he is not just one-dimensional with his genius, Tammet's book is a fine example of his goal to share his brilliant knowledge with the world to inspire and encourage...a thoughtful and highly informative read. (The China Post)

Book Description

A brilliant portrait of the human mind and the extraordinary potential within every one of us, by real-life Rain-Man and bestselling author of Born On A Blue Day.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed Born on a Blue Day and the first few chapters of this book continue in the same vein: a charming and fascinating tour around the brain and its workings, this time looking at "normal" brains as much as Daniel's own, and expanding to include other writers' and scientist's views as well as Daniel's experiences. I have seen a lot of the content elsewhere and in places this book did seem to take claims at face value rather than critically evaluating them if they fitted with the author's world view.

The writing is straightforward and functional rather than inspired, but by no means dull or clunky. The concept of using autistic experiences to better understand non-autistic minds works well and there are some interesting ideas presenting in a simple and accessible pop-sci way.

Where it all started to fall apart for me was around Chapter 8 where the focus moved beyond the brain and started to look at wider social issues. In this section complex issues were addressed from a surprisingly elitist, simplistic and close-minded perspective which made for an irritating and uncomfortable read and ultimately spoiled a decent book. I've never enjoyed being told what to think, particularly where the basis is a gross over-simplification of a complex issue. To usefully understand our shades-of-grey world you need both intelligence, and the ability to tolerate ambuguity, and I think the latter is what is missing from this book and costs it a star or two.
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Format: Hardcover
It was the poem by Emily Dickinson quoted in the introduction that drew me to this book, which begins 'The brain is wider than the sky.' It was a poem familiar to me, and one which provides a springboard for endless reflection. The intro and the first few chapters were interesting and illuminating, but then Mr Tammet leaves the personal and begins to offer digests of material from other books, most of which is quite well-known, and most of which he offers in a dry pedestrian fashion. However, there's another pretty wise quote, this time from Anais Nin: 'We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.' And of course Mr Tammet proceeds to show that the way he sees things is the best way, offering 'proof' that fits his views. For example, he rightly decries reasoning by way of a false analogy, then later compares the chances of winning the lottery and being struck by lightning. There is probably a greater chance of being struck than striking it rich, but these are two completely unrelated events, which should not be compared. The advice to less well-off people to invest their weekly bets in a savings account is likely to be ignored, since gambling is fun and savings isn't - look at the telly on Saturday night! What I'd like to know is the chances of being struck by lightning at the exact moment of a lottery win...
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By Spider Monkey HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the second book from Daniel Tammet after his superb memoir `Born on a Blue Day' and whilst it is quite good, it is also lacking a certain something. Don't get me wrong, I found this interesting to read and it had some insightful moments in it, but it is decidedly unoriginal. In fact there is a huge overlap of information with another book I have read recently (`Bounce' By Matthew Syed) which was about sports achievement and excellence. This looks at our brains and how it functions and the outstanding feats it is capable of. The only problem is is that I have previously read virtually all of this information in other books about the brain. However, this is well written, although less intimate than his memoir and offers a unique insight into Daniels savant syndrome. This covers topics such as basic neuroscience, IQ tests, memory, language, number sense, creativity, perception, information in society, the benefits of thinking mathematically and the future of the human mind with insight into injury treatment and linking our minds with technology. There are some diagrams littered throughout to illustrate various points raised which help to clarify. If you haven't read any books about the brain then this will be deeply fascinating and engaging, but if, like me, you have already done some rudimentary reading on the nature and working of the brain then this book will feel slightly anticlimactic and a disappointment. Overall, this is an interesting introduction to our brain, but only for those who are new to the topic.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A book about the mind will inevitably cover ideas you have seen elsewhere - don't think that because this book is written by someone on the autistic spectrum you will find it completely weird. And that's the point - Daniel Tammet comes across as interesting, facinated in the world around him and having a far better understanding of autism than the those who have built their careers on the subject.

A particularly illuminating moment for me came with a comment about a study into children with autistic-spectrum disorder, comparing their creativity with a control group. One question was "how would you make this toy more fun?" - the control group did better than the kids with ASD. But as Tammet explains, for someone who sees detail before they see broader issues (and as Tammet says of himself, someone who sees the scratches on the table before they see the table), this is such a sloppily-worded question that it's incredibly difficult to answer. What kind of fun? Fun for whom? When?

Understanding this, and taking savant skills out of the realm of the superhuman & into the real world, is one of the book's key strengths. The principal weakness is that Tammet isn't an incredibly engaging writer and can come across as a bit stiff and stilted at times - but this is in the nature of his brain, so it would be a bit foolish to expect otherwise and considered in this context he writes with great skill. The book challenges preconceptions about autism without being judgmental or confrontational, and has left me thinking quite a bit about the nature of the brain. Well worth the purchase.
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