Five words from the blurb: imagine, universe, counting, mathematics, everyone
Daniel Tammet is an autistic savant with an amazing ability to recall words and numbers. I loved his autobiography, Born on a Blue Day, so much that I went to hear him talk at the Edinburgh Festival last month. His new book, Thinking in Numbers, aims to promote a love for mathematics. Tammet explains that the subject is similar to fiction in that there are many different genres, each of which you will enjoy to a greater or lesser extent dependant on your personal taste.
Thinking in Numbers proved this concept by highlighting many different areas, some which I loved and others which bored me completely.
The book is divided into 25 chapters, each exploring a different area of mathematics. Tammet uses real life examples to show how important numbers are with topics as diverse as snow, Tolstoy and poetry. My personal favorites included the section that explained the different ways other cultures count and the one estimating how long an individual will live.
The quality of Tammet’s writing has improved massively since Born on a Blue Day. Everything was written clearly, with complex theories explained cleverly so that those unfamiliar with them could understand, whilst those already knowledgeable weren’t patronised.
I was a little disappointed that the book didn’t include any more explanation of the way Tammet sees numbers as complex, colourful shapes, but I did enjoy the more personal chapter about the thoughts that went through his head as he broke the world record for reciting Pi to 22,514 decimal places.
I found this book thought provoking – it is one of those books that you find yourself quoting to others. I guarantee that you won’t enjoy every chapter, but there is enough contained within it to entertain everyone.