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on 18 January 2014
This collection of thoughtful essays rewards the reader by both providing a fascinating insight into the mind of an autistic savant and in opening our minds to the pervasiveness of numbers in our lives and how the quest for meaning through the seeking of pattern and the abstraction of reality underpins human sentience.

In 'Eternity in an Hour', Tammet brilliantly depicts the burden as well as the gift that Asperger's Syndrome is, his obsession with lampposts and the distance between them crippling his ability to walk to and from school. Frequent mention is made of the different colours of numbers- suggesting the author's experience of synaesthesia (a mixing of the senses) this too has a profound influence on his experience of the world.

Particularly memorable amongst the eclectic collection of ideas explored here is: the reason why Islam was such a driving force behind time keeping and calendars, how prime numbers influence Haiku, Tanka, sestinas and other forms of poetry, how calculus (the mathematical study of change) influenced Tolstoy and an explanation of why a year is longer for a ten year old than it is for a forty year old. A recurring theme is infinity and how fractions afford us an insight into the infinite.

In 'Selves and Statistics' he movingly reasserts the position of the individual over that of society as a whole in discussing averages. Without resorting to formulae or complex maths, the author successfully explains how maths can inform our understanding of life.
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on 12 March 2017
Kindle book! Great read, very interesting!
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on 8 April 2015
Amazing book - amazing next day service!! Many thanks.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 August 2014
This collection of 25 essays by Daniel Tammet, probably best known for his feat of memorising vast quantities of digits of pi, is an enjoyable light way of getting an introduction to some of the reasons that maths is more than just a mechanism for doing science or adding up your shopping bills.

Some essay collections don’t work so well in book form, but these make excellent bite-sized nuggets, with Tammet ranging far and wide over a landscape that successfully pulls in poets, authors and playwrights as much as it does mathematicians. I loved, for instance, the parallels Tammet brings out between Tolstoy’s view of history and calculus.

Inevitably in such a collection there will be some pieces that appeal less to an individual reader. I was less interested in the more autobiographical essays, but I am sure they would appeal to others. If I’m being picky I’d also say Tammet is occasionally a little loose factually. So, for instance, he says the odds of him being in a particular location is 1 in 2 – he’s either there or he’s not. That’s a very strange way of defining odds, which usually means the probability of something: and clearly there isn’t a 1 in 2 chance of him being (say) in my kitchen.

Overall, though, a very enjoyable and informative read.
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on 25 March 2017
Some interesting chapters giving access to maths from different perspectives, all done in Daniel's unique way. An excellent compliment to his book 'Born on a Blue Day'.
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on 3 September 2012
This series of 25 essays is clearly well researched and offers some fascinating insights into mathematics from literary, philosophical and scientific perspectives. The range of subjects covered is diverse and eclectic, providing us with some surprising, and occasionally challenging, insights.

Each essay is as varied as it is unique. I thought the essays that dealt with the history of mathematical thinking were very interesting, particularly those concerning classical Greek philosophers and mathematicians.

For me, one of the highlights of the book include "Are We Alone?", a chapter which looked at some of the history of mankind's search for extra-terrestrial intelligence and discusses the probabilities involved in this field. "The Calendar of Omar Khayyam" was another really interesting chapter and, I think, probably my favourite of the discursive historical chapters. Other highlights include "Selves and Statistics", "On Big Numbers" and "Talking Chess".

A few chapters cover aspects of Tammet's life and are more reflective, rather than scholarly. They provide a fascinating insight into Tammet's life and how mathematical thinking permeates his consciousness.

This is not a book about a high functioning autistic savant; should anyone wants to know and understand more about Tammet himself, then they should read his earlier work "Born on a Blue Day". It is not a treatise on mathematical theories either. In 25 essays Tammet's passion for numbers combines with his accomplished prose to tell the story of how numbers shape the world in which we live, how they form the structural beauty of a poem and a snowflake, allow us to conceptualise vast distances and numbers from zero to infinity. It shows us how numbers traverse the history of mankind and influence our behaviour, our literature, our dreams and desires.

Tammet has a unique perception of numbers, which he has successfully shared with us. "Thinking is Numbers" is entertaining, enlightening, at times touching, and always thought provoking.
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on 11 October 2013
This was by no means one of the books that I had ever intended to read. I'd never heard of the author nor had this particular book been recommended to me. I found it whilst perusing the science section. The title alone was good enough to make me take a closer look, after which I thought this was worth paying a little bit of money for.

The book is written as a series of short essays, seemingly distinct and with little to no overall narrative to it. So it's a good book to have lying around that can be picked up, read for 15-20 minutes and put down again.

It covers a variety of topics from Tammet's point of view. It must be noted that Tammet (not his real name, he changed it to `better fit' his identity) is described as a high functioning autistic savant. In short, he's a really clever chap. Now I've come across one or two in my time and have been able to hold my own against them in some intellectual challenges. However, they usually get the upper hand on me and I can't quite emulate their speed or agility of thought, which I admit has been a cause of some chagrin from the age of 17 onwards.

So it was with some relish, and a little touch of rivalry, that I wanted to get to see the world through such a savant's eyes. In many respects, what I was reading seemed to be the account of a more articulate version of myself, with the only difference that Tammet views numbers as colours. I knew several in the maths department at university who did this, but I always think in terms of `complements' - i.e. what number would you need to add to make a round number? So if someone says 7, I think 3. If they say 83, I think 17.

I probably ought to confess that I finished this review a few weeks after reading the book, so I am relying a little on memory. While reading it, I found it quite fascinating, but a few weeks later the only things that really stick in my mind are the fact that he came from a very large family and a compelling account of his recitation of digits of pi. This last bit was especially impressive as it ran on for thousands of digits and the recitation took several hours to complete.

The book will be of note to anyone interested in maths or to those who are keen in trying to understand how other people tick.
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on 27 November 2014
Having seen his documentary on YouTube and read his book "Born on a Blue Day" I had to read this and can say that it has given me more insight into some of Daniels achievements like setting a European Record for the recitation of pi to the greatest number of digits in the The Admirable Number Pi essay.
Also I found his use of the English language to create imaginary quite different than the normal literature that I read which I found knowledge expanding and enjoyable.
If you are a fan of Daniel, I would recommend this book.
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on 11 June 2013
well written and at parts entertaining, but a misleading title
the books is more a series of anecdotes from Tammet's life with little emphasise on anything more than fairly trivial maths
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on 15 February 2014
I find numbers So interesting now after hating maths at school, which didn't inspire me at all ! Daniel Tammet's books are amazing because they have opened up my mind (almost literally) as to how incredible our brains are...and of how much there is to learn about the World...and the Universe !
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