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Thinking In Numbers: On Life, Love, Meaning, and Math Hardcover – July 30, 2013
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*Starred Review* With these words from a fellow mathematician, “There is nothing as dreamy and poetic, nothing as radical, subversive, and psychedelic, as mathematics,” Tammet describes the magical realms he explores in these 25 wonderful essays. Here numbers become portals to “pure possibilities” in the “math of life.” Smashing preconceptions of mathematics as a task for drudges, Tammet takes prime numbers as a key for unlocking haiku by Basho and shares the emotion-laden colors surging through his mind when, as a “number artist,” he sets a European record by reciting the value of pi to 22,514 decimal places. Tammet visits the pure possibilities in mathematics that inspire poetry, drama, and even theology. But the tether of impure reality tugs the author back into a world where impoverished grandparents suffer the indignity of eviction, their furniture scattered across the front lawn; a world where his mother manages Christmas for a large family only by scouring neighborhood garage sales. But then, perhaps, it is precisely in the tension between math’s sublime dreamscapes and the terrestrial numbers of working-class budgets that readers truly see the “math of life.” Admirers of Tammet’s Born on a Blue Day (2007) and Embracing the Wide Sky (2009) will find here fresh reasons to laud the author’s gifts. --Bryce Christensen
"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
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Top customer reviews
I know - weird taste, but what can you do. I have a jones for the sense of wonder that things like Brian Greene's "Elegant Universe" can convey. So I hoped I was getting another taste of the infinite when I picked this up, but it didn't bring me, sad to say. A bit too plodding, although it wasn't bad, per se. I'd suggest Edward Titchmarsh's "Mathematics for the General Reader" instead...
A few are interesting: An account of how he set the world record for memorizing and reciting pi (to 22,514 decimal places) held my attention, but I wished he would offer better insight on why he chose to do this. Most of the time, after finishing an essay I wondered, "What was the point?"
At a few spots, I felt that he dipped into math trivialities that are, to me at least, not very interesting.
It's still an amazing book, and I will likely be reading more Tammet.
Well written and poetic.