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A stunning rumination on math and numbers from the bestselling author of Born on a Blue Day. Thinking In Numbers is the book that Daniel Tammet, bestselling author and mathematical savant, was born to write. In Tammet's world, numbers are beautiful and mathematics illuminates our lives and minds. Using anecdotes, everyday examples, and ruminations on history, literature, an A stunning rumination on math and numbers from the bestselling author of Born on a Blue Day. Thinking In Numbers is the book that Daniel Tammet, bestselling author and mathematical savant, was born to write. In Tammet's world, numbers are beautiful and mathematics illuminates our lives and minds. Using anecdotes, everyday examples, and ruminations on history, literature, and more, Tammet allows us to share his unique insights and delight in the way numbers, fractions, and equations underpin all our lives. Inspired by the complexity of snowflakes, Anne Boleyn's eleven fingers, or his many siblings, Tammet explores questions such as why time seems to speed up as we age, whether there is such a thing as an average person, and how we can make sense of those we love. Thinking In Numbers will change the way you think about math and fire your imagination to see the world with fresh eyes.


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A stunning rumination on math and numbers from the bestselling author of Born on a Blue Day. Thinking In Numbers is the book that Daniel Tammet, bestselling author and mathematical savant, was born to write. In Tammet's world, numbers are beautiful and mathematics illuminates our lives and minds. Using anecdotes, everyday examples, and ruminations on history, literature, an A stunning rumination on math and numbers from the bestselling author of Born on a Blue Day. Thinking In Numbers is the book that Daniel Tammet, bestselling author and mathematical savant, was born to write. In Tammet's world, numbers are beautiful and mathematics illuminates our lives and minds. Using anecdotes, everyday examples, and ruminations on history, literature, and more, Tammet allows us to share his unique insights and delight in the way numbers, fractions, and equations underpin all our lives. Inspired by the complexity of snowflakes, Anne Boleyn's eleven fingers, or his many siblings, Tammet explores questions such as why time seems to speed up as we age, whether there is such a thing as an average person, and how we can make sense of those we love. Thinking In Numbers will change the way you think about math and fire your imagination to see the world with fresh eyes.

30 review for Thinking In Numbers: On Life, Love, Meaning, and Math

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kara Babcock

    I can’t resist picking up mathy books when I’m in a bookstore. As a mathematician, I love broadening my knowledge about the field—and seeing what passes for “popular mathematics” these days. Thinking in Numbers is a slim volume that promises to “change the way you think about maths and fire your imagination to see the world with fresh eyes”. It didn’t do that for me—but maybe that’s because I already think about maths that way. Daniel Tammet is an exceptionally talented voice when it comes to pr I can’t resist picking up mathy books when I’m in a bookstore. As a mathematician, I love broadening my knowledge about the field—and seeing what passes for “popular mathematics” these days. Thinking in Numbers is a slim volume that promises to “change the way you think about maths and fire your imagination to see the world with fresh eyes”. It didn’t do that for me—but maybe that’s because I already think about maths that way. Daniel Tammet is an exceptionally talented voice when it comes to presenting the inspirational elements of mathematics, so I hope that for people who don’t quite understand why I get so excited about maths, the book does make a difference. I last wrote about why I love math in 2011. Since then, I’ve graduated from university. I’ve completed research in mathematics and had a paper published. I’ve begun teaching math and English at a high school level. All of these changes have deepened, broadened, and otherwise changed my love for math. As a student, math can be a mystery, a puzzle that demands both ruthless logic and amazing creativity, something that can tickle both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. As a teacher, I’ve tried to make my math classroom as “safe zone” where students can learn, and indeed where they can express a dislike for math, if that’s their opinion. Of course, I’m always out on a little bit of an evangelical mission to change people’s minds. But I’m not asking people to love math; I’m just asking them to reconsider whether they actually hate it, whether they are wrong when they say, “I just can’t do math”. Everyone can do math; everyone does math every day. Math is an integral (no pun intended) part of our society. And it’s just wonderful. Tammet captures a lot of these sentiments in Thinking in Numbers. This is a very unusual math book, in that it isn’t really about math. It’s a collection of 25 very short essays on topics that relate to math tangentially. There are precious few equations or formulae in this book. Instead, Tammet takes a what I might even call an intersectional approach to math. In one of my favourite essays, “Counting to Four in Icelandic,” he explores how different languages form words for numbers. Some languages, Icelandic included, have completely different words for the same numeral depending on whether what it describes is abstract or concrete (whereas, in English, we just say four regardless). In another essay, he ponders the recurrence of the motif of nothingness and synonyms for zero in Shakespeare’s works. He connects this to the spread of zero, from the Arabic world through Italy to the rest of Europe, during Shakespeare’s time. The essays are bite-sized. This is a book easy to devour over the course of a few evenings: read a few essays, then put it down and mull over them before going to bed. There is a preface but no conclusion, and there is no overarching connection or theme, beyond Tammet’s obvious love for the relationship between life and math. On a related note, the topics are quite varied. There is little to suggest a pattern beyond different connections between math and life that have occurred to Tammet over the years. This might prove frustrating for people who are used to more forthright or even argumentative non-fiction. Tammet isn’t so much presenting an argument as opening the door to another perspective on the topic. It’s an invitation, not one side of a debate. Tammet’s writing style always verges on the intimate and philosophical, and he always leans on anecdotes or autobiographical details to furnish his asides. This can work well—I wasn’t familiar with his name, so his account of memorizing and reciting 22,514 decimal places of pi for a new record was fascinating. His essay expounding upon mathematical models using his mother as an example, less so. The book is at its best when Tammet takes a concrete piece of mathematics—pi, calculus, primes—and links to another field, whether it’s the literature of Tolstoy or the possibilities in a chess game. In this way, he demonstrates how math is more than just a series of problems in a textbook, and it’s not just something mathematicians, physicists, and engineers need in their daily lives. It’s this pervasiveness of mathematics that comes to the fore in this book. The dearth of equations, proofs, and even diagrams attests to this: Tammet is not out to explain mathematics. Instead, he finds and traces the connections between math and life. He talks about how an Amazonian tribe that lacks names for numbers conceptualizes the world. He examines Tolstoy’s use of calculus as an analogy for analyzing history. Having recently read War and Peace, I really enjoyed those little allusions to math. For people who only see the epic as this massive work of literature, however, it might seem strange to think that Tolstoy owes his view of history to math. Tammet teases out the cool, unsuspected ways that math can pop up and connect to parts of our lives, and it’s wonderful. Not every essay in this collection is amazing. I’d probably recommend this to most of my friends, with the caveat that they shouldn't read the book all the way through. Instead, this is a collection where it's appropriate to leaf through the chapters and read those that pique one's interest. Tammet covers enough topics that there is probably at least one essay in here for everyone. I was sceptical, when I saw the title of the book and read the brief description, that Thinking in Numbers could impress me. It looked so thin, so insubstantial, that I expected it would be too light, too far on the popular side of popular mathematics. Instead, Tammet delivers something that I wasn't anticipating at all—and it works.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jessica McCann

    When it comes to math and numbers, generally speaking, I am not a fan. I'm a word girl. And yet, in THINKING IN NUMBERS, Daniel Tammet has found a way to help me appreciate the complexity, the magic and, yes, even the beauty he sees in numbers. Early on in this book of essays, Tammet put math into terms I could understand. "Like works of literature," he wrote on page 10, "mathematical ideas help expand our circle of empathy, liberating us from the tyranny of a single, parochial point of view. Num When it comes to math and numbers, generally speaking, I am not a fan. I'm a word girl. And yet, in THINKING IN NUMBERS, Daniel Tammet has found a way to help me appreciate the complexity, the magic and, yes, even the beauty he sees in numbers. Early on in this book of essays, Tammet put math into terms I could understand. "Like works of literature," he wrote on page 10, "mathematical ideas help expand our circle of empathy, liberating us from the tyranny of a single, parochial point of view. Numbers, properly considered, make us better people." While I wasn't quite yet sold that numbers make us better people, I was intrigued by the analogy and compelled to keep reading. Tammet is a savant (one who broke the world record for reciting from memory more than 22,500 digits of Pi), and some of his essays are pretty heady. I'll admit, he lost me in a few of them, and I was forced to skim. My brain simply could not wrap around some of his ideas. As a person inspired by words and art, I was most drawn to his essays that related math to those elements. For example, in "Book of Books," Tammet examines the process of novel writing and the infinite possibilities and configurations the author must consider, much like a mathematical equation. And he introduced me to a novel by Julio Cortazar, titled Hopscotch, with a unique structure that enables readers make their own sense of the story. One can read the chapters consecutively from beginning to end, or in reverse order. One can read only the even numbered chapters, or only the prime numbered ones. And each reader will experience a different story. Wow. As a writer, and as a reader, this mathematical concept of a novel structure blew my mind. Many of Tammet's essays were thought provoking, some were whimsical. All offered a unique glimpse into the mind of someone who thinks and views the world in ways far different than I. If you love math, or if you enjoy gaining new perspectives on familiar aspects in life, I highly recommend THINKING IN NUMBERS. p.s. I also have read, enjoyed and recommend Tammet's memoir, BORN ON A BLUE DAY.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    Speechless. So here are some quotes. Epigraph: "Like all great rationalists you believed in things that were twice as incredible as theology." ~Halldor Laxness "the play between numerical concepts saturates the way we experience the world." (xvii) "Like works of literature, mathematical ideas help expand our circle of empathy, liberating us from the tyranny of a single, parochial point of view. Numbers, properly considered, make us better people." (10) "The Brothers Grimm introduced me to the myster Speechless. So here are some quotes. Epigraph: "Like all great rationalists you believed in things that were twice as incredible as theology." ~Halldor Laxness "the play between numerical concepts saturates the way we experience the world." (xvii) "Like works of literature, mathematical ideas help expand our circle of empathy, liberating us from the tyranny of a single, parochial point of view. Numbers, properly considered, make us better people." (10) "The Brothers Grimm introduced me to the mystery of infinity," (11) "When I discussed the ways in which we could think about the number 56, I borrowed this feature of proverbs and put the sum's answer at the start. [The proverb "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" could be worded as a question: "What keeps the doctor away? An apple a day."] Saying, '56 = 7 x 8' lends emphasis where it is needed most: not on the seven or the eight, but on what they produce." (40) "Proverbs, like times tables, can often strike us as strange, their meanings remote..... The choice of words seems to us as arbitrary and archaic as the numbers in the times tables. But the truths they represent are immemorial." (43) "The fortuitous error pleased him; it made him pause and think." (50) "There was pleasure in confiding our mutual amazement, almost in the manner of gossip. And like gossip, it was something that we both knew and did not know." (54) "A nothing, the boy sees, depends on the kind." (60) "Imagination can reconcile even one and one million." (61) "...only the bodhisattvas, beings who have arrived at their ultimate incarnation, are capable of counting so high." (78) "There exist magnitudes so immense that they escape all our words, and all our numbers." (83) "We imagine snowflakes with the purity of a mathematician's mind." (91) "What would it be like, a world without snow? I cannot imagine such a place. It would be like a world devoid of numbers. Every snowflake, unique as every number, tells us something about complexity. Perhaps that is why we will never tire of its wonder." (93) "Cities are the embodiments of numerical patterns that contain and direct our lives." (95) "Being constructed with complete regularity did not mean that it would suffer from sameness." (102) "Unlike Augustine, Bruno had no difficulty imagining an infinite number of Christs. For this and other "theological errors," the authorities denounced the heretic and burned him at the stake." (106) "Knowing we are the only ones might make us realize that we are too valuable to destroy." (quoting Michael Papagiannis, 116) "The circle that pi describes is perfect, belonging exclusively to the realm of the imagination." (136) "Those digits seemed to speak of endless possibility, illimitable adventure." (137) "I do not wish to fragment the number [pi}. I am not interested in breaking it up. I am interested in the dialogue between its digits, in the unity and continuity that underlie them all." (145) "I know numbers are beautiful. If they are not beautiful, nothing is." (quoting Paul Erdos, 148) "what we laymen really admire in the work of a Euclid or an Einstein is its ingenuity, rather than its beauty." (149) "The beauty adored by mathematicians can be pursued through the everyday: games, and music, and magic." (149) "Pythagoras taught that the cosmos sang and was composed of music." (152) "Problems, in magic or mathematics, are wonderful things. Without problems, we would have no proofs, and the shimmering pleasure of elucidation is a thing of beauty." (156) "Human beings' quest for meaning is perpetual; lack of meaning is offensive to the mind, and whatever the scale of the problem, a solution is a thing of beauty." (158) "Sleep on it. Why not? Our dreams contain the infinite." (175) "He compared composing a story with fitting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle." (referring to Vladimir Nabokov, 176) "It is the writer and reader together who compose their infinite tale." (179) "Poetry and prime numbers have this in common: both are as unpredictable, difficult to define, and multiple-meaning as a life." (192) "The delicate balance of convention and invention gives meaning to what we say." (213) "These players do not so much think about chess, as think IN chess, just as we think in language." (228)

  4. 5 out of 5

    James Swenson

    Interesting and poetic. Caveat: much of this book is about numbers, but very little of it is about math. Its main value is the insight it offers into the author's differently-functioning brain. I'm unable to quit without mentioning that the author fell into a couple of mathematical errors. The first of these occurs as Tammet disparages the techniques of high-school algebra: x^2 = 2x + 15. I word it out like this: a square number... equals fifteen more than a multiple of two. In other words, we are Interesting and poetic. Caveat: much of this book is about numbers, but very little of it is about math. Its main value is the insight it offers into the author's differently-functioning brain. I'm unable to quit without mentioning that the author fell into a couple of mathematical errors. The first of these occurs as Tammet disparages the techniques of high-school algebra: x^2 = 2x + 15. I word it out like this: a square number... equals fifteen more than a multiple of two. In other words, we are looking for a square number above seventeen (being fifteen more than two). The first candidate is twenty-five (5 x 5) and twenty-five is indeed fifteen more than 10 (a multiple of two); x = 5. This reasoning is wrong for two opposite reasons: (1) It "justifies" wrong answers. E.g.: Another "candidate" square is forty-nine (7 x 7), which is also fifteen more than a multiple of two -- namely, 34. Nevertheless, x = 7 is not a correct solution of the equation, because 34 is the wrong multiple of two. (2) It fails to identify correct answers. E.g.: x = -3 is a correct solution, even though the square number nine (-3 x -3) is not above seventeen. Tammet's plausible reasoning leads to false conclusions; this points up the value of studying algebra as a problem-solving technology. The error exposes a common misconception. When a mathematician solves the above equation, the point is not to prove that "If x = 5, then x^2 = 2x + 15." The objective is actually a converse claim: "If x^2 = 2x + 15, then x = -3 or x = 5." The difference is subtle but profound: The former claim is a triviality about a single number, leaving infinitely many others unconsidered, while the latter is a universal generalization that rules out an infinity of possibilities. Algebraic variables give us the power to reason about infinitely many numbers simultaneously. Another error also involves the notion of the infinite, this time in the decimal expansion of pi: Circles, perfect circles, thus enumerated, consist of every possible run of digits. Somewhere in pi, perhaps trillions of digits deep, a hundred successive fives rub shoulders; elsewhere occur a thousand alternating zeroes and ones. Inconceivably far inside the random-looking morass of digits, having computed them for a time far longer than that which separates us from the big bang, the sequence 123456789 repeats 123,456,789 times in a row. If only we could venture far enough along, we would find the number's opening hundred, thousand, million, billion digits immaculately repeated, as though at any instant the whole vast array were to begin all over again. And yet, it never does. There is only one number pi, unrepeatable, indivisible. (pp. 136-7) This, too, is a double-edged error: (1) Pi is not known to have this property. I think it is commonly believed that pi is "normal in base 10," which would be sufficient, but this claim has never been proved, and it is wrong to assert it to be a fact. (2) On the other hand, the digits of pi may behave as described, but this would not make pi a Very Special Number. In fact, in 1909, Emile Borel proved that almost all real numbers do have this property. Read this book for its flavor, but not for its details.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    In turns fascinating and exasperating, as I imagine it might be to talk with someone, whom, like the author, is a savant in a particular area of knowledge, but not others. The author's abilities with numbers and linguistics are notable, and that comes through in page after page of these short essays on, as the subtitle indicates, life, love, meaning and math. At the same time, he shows a remarkable lack of grasp of areas outside of those, and his conclusions and musings often seem contrary to wh In turns fascinating and exasperating, as I imagine it might be to talk with someone, whom, like the author, is a savant in a particular area of knowledge, but not others. The author's abilities with numbers and linguistics are notable, and that comes through in page after page of these short essays on, as the subtitle indicates, life, love, meaning and math. At the same time, he shows a remarkable lack of grasp of areas outside of those, and his conclusions and musings often seem contrary to what we might call "shared reality". He asserts, for example, in one chapter that the Japanese have a negative view of even numbers and a positive one of odd numbers. But he provides no evidence for this other than noting that there are some example phrases using the words 2 and 6 in Japanese that could be construed as negative, and also brings up the number 4, as meaning death, within the culture. He fails to note that there are probably equally many phrases utilizing 2 and 6 in positive context, and that (surprisingly given his supposed grasp of linguistics), it's not that the number 4 means death, but that the Japanese words for 4 and death are homonyms, and so people avoid situations where the words might have to be spoken, superstitiously casting a pall over an event. He also fails to mention the 8, the next even number in sequence is considered quite positive, lucky, even - and gives not a single example of how odd numbers equate to positive things. Other chapters delve into other areas of life with a similar lack of apprehension. Still, for anyone fascinated with numbers, the book is a recommendable read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rupert

    This is a philosophy book, a psychology book, an autobiography and a history book. But ultimately it's not a maths book, despite what the cover claims. Sure, it dabbles in numbers and multiplication somewhat, but nothing beyond basic primary school level. I'm all for encouraging learning in areas where people aren't experienced, but at no point does it say that it's a book for beginner mathematicians, so why would people outside of keen mathematicians pick it up? For example, it spends a whole cha This is a philosophy book, a psychology book, an autobiography and a history book. But ultimately it's not a maths book, despite what the cover claims. Sure, it dabbles in numbers and multiplication somewhat, but nothing beyond basic primary school level. I'm all for encouraging learning in areas where people aren't experienced, but at no point does it say that it's a book for beginner mathematicians, so why would people outside of keen mathematicians pick it up? For example, it spends a whole chapter ('Family Values') simply stating how sets work, i.e. The set of planets is that same size as the set of siblings he has. Not exactly "change the way you think about maths" material. And although some of his findings and theories are interesting, at the same time they are not fully supported in the mathematical and logical way one would expect, but rather just stated. For example, 'Shapes of Speech' talks about how Pythagoras was the world "first rhetorician". There is no supporting source, just statement. It then goes on to display the comparison between maths and speech making. It's an interesting theory, but only somewhat basic evidence, with no discussion or counter argument, which any good essay should have. This is a fine book of you like interesting ideas, but should not be read expecting "unique insights and delights" in maths.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sue Smith

    Finally finished! Not that this was a bad book - no, it was genuinely interesting with spots of true insight and genius and lots of chin rubbing, hmmmmm moments. No, it was a worthy read. But it was the best soporific book I've ever had the pleasure to read. My reading habits have been - uhh...... 'curtailed' - in the last year due to extenuating circumstances. So my reading times have been relegated to evening, just before bed, which isn't usually an issue. But just you try it while you read a b Finally finished! Not that this was a bad book - no, it was genuinely interesting with spots of true insight and genius and lots of chin rubbing, hmmmmm moments. No, it was a worthy read. But it was the best soporific book I've ever had the pleasure to read. My reading habits have been - uhh...... 'curtailed' - in the last year due to extenuating circumstances. So my reading times have been relegated to evening, just before bed, which isn't usually an issue. But just you try it while you read a book that's essence is about math. I dare you not to fall asleep mid sentence. Every. Single. Night. Hence the interminably long reading time to get through this wee book. Some of my favorite parts - because there were some 'chapters' or 'stories' that did not spark my imagination at all - were interesting thoughts of math memory having rhythm for easy recall (which really rang true for me), and the hidden artistic application of math in writing and poetry and art. The statistic and time chapter insights were pretty cool to think about too. So, all in all a good book to give thought to. My only diss was that every now and again I swear that there were made up words. I wish I had written them down because I don't like to be disparaging without some proof. There weren't a lot - just a few that were to embellish a thought, but they just seemed .... well, just not right. Maybe it was because it was too much or too 'floral' ... or something. Just me perhaps. I may have been annoyed because it was taking so long to plow through it and I wasn't as amused as the author was as he wrote it. I had different embellishments! I do have to say that I was glad to complete it though. I had a deadline to get it done and returned to the library, so my standby reading spot was put into use (a damn good hot bath if you need to know) and it did the charm. I stayed awake to finish and it upped my star rating from a 2 to a 3! So if you find it's turning into a chore to get through it because you keep falling asleep, have faith - and take a bath!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    Very interesting essays that spin off from Tammet's wisp of seeing a mathematical aspect of something in daily life: how we experience time, the formula behind a sestina, how the recent import of the zero during his days at school might have influenced references to nothingness in Shakespeare's plays. He studies the references to the calculus of history in Tolstoy, and reflects on Nabokov the chess player. The essays are mostly about 5 pages, and with so many the quality varies of course. But mo Very interesting essays that spin off from Tammet's wisp of seeing a mathematical aspect of something in daily life: how we experience time, the formula behind a sestina, how the recent import of the zero during his days at school might have influenced references to nothingness in Shakespeare's plays. He studies the references to the calculus of history in Tolstoy, and reflects on Nabokov the chess player. The essays are mostly about 5 pages, and with so many the quality varies of course. But most prompt some reflection in the reader, and much of his writing is quite lovely. 'At its best, a well-executed, smooth flowing cricket match can replicate the sense of harmony that we most often associate with music. The tension mounts and falls tidally, like the notes in a song. Time elapses differently on a cricket ground or in a concert hall. A five-day match is adept at slackening and pulling tight the outline of its hours, while every musical composition bears its own time within the structure of its notes. The unique tempo is also a part of the experience of mathematical beauty.' (page 128)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    I received this book from the GoodReads First reads giveaway program. Thank you author/publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book. Thinking in Numbers by Daniel Tammet is a book of twenty-five short essays relating to math and our lives. I personally liked several of the essays but there were some that I just couldn't relate to. I did find myself doing some of the math calculations as I was reading. In the essay Proverbs and Times Tables, I do remember learning some of the number I received this book from the GoodReads First reads giveaway program. Thank you author/publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book. Thinking in Numbers by Daniel Tammet is a book of twenty-five short essays relating to math and our lives. I personally liked several of the essays but there were some that I just couldn't relate to. I did find myself doing some of the math calculations as I was reading. In the essay Proverbs and Times Tables, I do remember learning some of the number tricks when I was in school regarding time tables. I also thought the essay Counting to Four In Icelandic was quite interesting. I had no idea people (example Chinese, Icelandic) could have such diverse ways of just counting numbers. The essay Invisible Cities had me googling for more information about the 1939 World's Fair in New York. This book definitely had me THINKING. I imagine I will be picking up this book again in the future for reference. Daniel Tammet is also the author of the New York Times bestseller Born on a Blue Day.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    I was always abysmal at math in school, not the ordinary stuff like addition, subtraction and multiplication, but fractions, geometry, and algebra sent me running for help. I could never understand why some people found it so fascinating and spent their lives trying to solve complicated equations, so not for me. So when this book promised to show the reader how math could be interesting, how it applied to everyday life, I though why not? In these essays, Tammett show how math can be used for ever I was always abysmal at math in school, not the ordinary stuff like addition, subtraction and multiplication, but fractions, geometry, and algebra sent me running for help. I could never understand why some people found it so fascinating and spent their lives trying to solve complicated equations, so not for me. So when this book promised to show the reader how math could be interesting, how it applied to everyday life, I though why not? In these essays, Tammett show how math can be used for everyday use, how it can be somewhat interesting by using examples from history and in a clear concise manner make math accessible to all. So while I will not be running out to purchase books on famous mathematicians, the author was somewhat successful. I did find many of the examples, interesting, especially Anne Boleyn's sixth finger story. I will maybe look at the world with a bit of a broader view and have at least a glimmer of understanding on why some people find math so fascinating.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Miriam

    A brilliant exploration of the way Tammet's mind works, but also of the way that numbers influence our lives. I think of myself as a "word" person, not a "number" person, but this beautifully written series of essays about numbers made me love them. A brilliant exploration of the way Tammet's mind works, but also of the way that numbers influence our lives. I think of myself as a "word" person, not a "number" person, but this beautifully written series of essays about numbers made me love them.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gary Beauregard Bottomley

    The book listens like a long poem and explains how our understanding of the world comes about through our imagination and understanding the maths that make up our world and is the key to understanding our place in the universe. As in any good poem it's probably best listened to by the author who wrote it. It did take me all of three minutes to realize that the author was a very good narrator and his speech patterns did take those three minutes for me to get used to. After that, I realize he was The book listens like a long poem and explains how our understanding of the world comes about through our imagination and understanding the maths that make up our world and is the key to understanding our place in the universe. As in any good poem it's probably best listened to by the author who wrote it. It did take me all of three minutes to realize that the author was a very good narrator and his speech patterns did take those three minutes for me to get used to. After that, I realize he was the best reader for the book. The author really makes his work speak to me. For example, his explanation that Shakespeare at his core uses the "presence of the absence" makes me finally appreciate Shakespeare. Shakespeare was the first class of students in England to accept zero (cipher) and use Arabic numbers including zero. The existence of nothing (cipher) has consequences. Shakespeare helped make the world aware of that. Another example, Abraham Lincoln loved Euclid's elements and in his debates with Douglas, say, would speak as if he was quoting from Euclid to make his points. Another example, the author states Pythagoras was the first to realize the power of the imaginary over tradition (myths and the empirical) and why that was so important for understanding our place in the universe. The book is full of gems like the above examples. I never got lost while listening to the math stuff in the book, sometimes I would get lost on foreign words such as how the Icelandic use many different words for the smaller numbers. Those who are not good with math and numbers will follow the major points. Imagination and how we use is understandable by all listeners.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brian Clegg

    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 playwrig 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. Review first published on www.popularscience.co.uk and reproduced with permission

  14. 5 out of 5

    Evan Snyder

    While I liked the concepts of the book as a whole and thought he chose some interesting topics to write about, the actual writing on said topics did got quite do it for me. Tammet's storytelling ability was lacking, with the monologue wandering aimlessly and filled with excessive efforts to sound poetic. He also had an uncanny ability to not do the math when I wanted to see some number crunching and write out arithmetic where I didn't have any interest. Despite my frustration with most of the ess While I liked the concepts of the book as a whole and thought he chose some interesting topics to write about, the actual writing on said topics did got quite do it for me. Tammet's storytelling ability was lacking, with the monologue wandering aimlessly and filled with excessive efforts to sound poetic. He also had an uncanny ability to not do the math when I wanted to see some number crunching and write out arithmetic where I didn't have any interest. Despite my frustration with most of the essays, I loved the chapter "A Novelist's Calculus" about differentials, Tolstoy, and history as the summation of the attitudes/decisions/actions of large populations of people. Fascinating concept. I was disappointed that there were 25 chapters and not 23, given the discussions about the beauty of prime numbers.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Saadia

    I am a fan of Daniel Tammet and loved his first book "Born on a Blue Day", 7 years ago. He is one of a handful of living geniuses and is quite, quite human and able to communicate and have a loving social life. I am awed by his ability to discuss and reframe complicated concepts using math as well as his linguistic ability. Learning and understanding multiple languages and his ability to convey his thoughts clearly, incisively and beautifully in English, his native tongue. For example, in the "Ca I am a fan of Daniel Tammet and loved his first book "Born on a Blue Day", 7 years ago. He is one of a handful of living geniuses and is quite, quite human and able to communicate and have a loving social life. I am awed by his ability to discuss and reframe complicated concepts using math as well as his linguistic ability. Learning and understanding multiple languages and his ability to convey his thoughts clearly, incisively and beautifully in English, his native tongue. For example, in the "Cataract of Time", he is talking about human perception of time as proportional to age and this was eye-opening to me. When I was a child, a year seemed such a very long time. Now as an older adult, a year seems to go by much faster. So he talks about an individual's "effective age". Food for thought!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Hopkins

    Daniel Tammet is a British-born autistic savant known for his incredible contributions to both literature and mathematics. He sees life through numbers, thus the title of this book, which is made up of a series of essays where he draws from both personal experiences and things in the world that fascinate him. Whether discussing his mother, Tolstoy, the fate of the universe, or magic tricks, Tammet sees the numbers and patterns in everything and yet somehow doesn't lose himself in logic. He is a Daniel Tammet is a British-born autistic savant known for his incredible contributions to both literature and mathematics. He sees life through numbers, thus the title of this book, which is made up of a series of essays where he draws from both personal experiences and things in the world that fascinate him. Whether discussing his mother, Tolstoy, the fate of the universe, or magic tricks, Tammet sees the numbers and patterns in everything and yet somehow doesn't lose himself in logic. He is a masterful storyteller and manages to not only explain how he thinks, but makes it beautiful, turning numbers into words for those of us who don't share his magical way of thinking. It's an insightful and engaging collection, and the prose is absolutely poetic. Not bad for a math guy. :)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sambasivan

    Collection of disparate essays by the savant mathematician Daniel Tammet where he talks of the interest in numbers shown by various famous personalities. The author, famous for his recitation of over 20,000 digits of Pi nonstop over five hours, is clearly qualified to talk on numbers. The examples given are fairly trivial and known and some of the essays ramble without a beginning or an end. An ok read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Kristin Taheri

    One of the most validating. reassuring books I have ever read regarding a numerical perspective on all things.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Snyder

    Not everyone would enjoy this but some interesting thoughts on numbers in life.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mina

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Math often exists in the realm of the abstract, the unattainable; it is menacing, cold, and devoid of human emotion at first glance. This is the aspect of math that we are taught to attempt to understand. It is impractical, intimidating and oftentimes frustrating. Nothing could be further from the truth. Math is hidden beneath the veil of both the ethereal and the mundane. Our literature, language, history, culture all reflect the essence of math and mirror numbers. Daniel Tammet’s “Thinking in Math often exists in the realm of the abstract, the unattainable; it is menacing, cold, and devoid of human emotion at first glance. This is the aspect of math that we are taught to attempt to understand. It is impractical, intimidating and oftentimes frustrating. Nothing could be further from the truth. Math is hidden beneath the veil of both the ethereal and the mundane. Our literature, language, history, culture all reflect the essence of math and mirror numbers. Daniel Tammet’s “Thinking in Numbers” does much to unveil this simple and pure beauty of numbers that we have learned to disregard. Numbers are not intangible and mere constructs of the human mind ever searching for more complexities to vex itself with. It is embedded within everything around us, even our ideas are never independent from the presence of numerical values or constructs. Daniel Tammet’s personal stories and conversational tone makes the book feel like an intimate conversation shared in awe with a childishly innocent fascination when the sky outside is bruised, since the night “is tender to the imagination” (pg 229). The presence of numbers in every human endeavour is explored in the book over a variety of concepts. Even the influence and extent of numbers in everyday speech is presented to you with untainted amazement. Long after the book has been put aside, the truth about the presence of numbers in every dimension of human existence still lingers. Art, belief, mortality, infinity; all of these concepts humans have pondered over in the blink of an eye that is their existence, inevitably coincides and intertwines beautifully with numbers. Daniel Tammet is a renowned author of many books, multifarious in content. His involvement in the beauty and essence of numbers is undeniable, as he has for a time held the record in Europe for memorizing the most digits of pi. His perception of numbers is one full of the joyous memorization of children when they are newly acquainted with a mundanity of life that has not yet become routine for them and shelters its beauty. The beauty that he finds even in pi as he recounts his memorization, is one to be marveled at alone. His mind is also just as wondrous, and his perception of reality is different in the most refreshing way possible. With his synesthesia as well as him being on the autism spectrum, his ideas on all that we have rendered insignificant and annoyances are delighting. His understanding of numbers and his reality of them is also shown in the book, with him mentioning that 1 and 5 are light while 6 and 9 are dark digits. The reader also starts seeing numbers and math in this beautiful way, with a new dimension and form. The personal narrative establishes a connection between the reader and the author, where he connects numbers to his own memories and experiences, as when he talks about trying to wholly figure out and predict his mother. The talk of nostalgia was also one that seemed to underline the warm reality of numbers under their assigned stone cold facades. As it is explored thoroughly in the book, human ideas are never within a set seperate from the set of numbers. Though the book handled different aspects of mathematical presence in our lives, some ideas stood out. Many conclusions were reached from mathematical concepts which were sweet to the mind and surpassed the mathematical realm, even incorporating philosophy to mathematical outcomes. The talk of infinite fractions and intermediates between whole numbers led to the “thought of the infinitely many points that can divide the space between two human hearts” (pg 18). Even when talking about history and logarithms, change was said to “appear to us mysterious because it is invisible” (pg 142). While discussing time and its unconstructable passage, the concept of nostalgia is also mentioned, and the numerical connection of nostalgia is introduced with the phrase that the “less the desire to return to our early years, than the more capacious experience of time that we inhabited as children.” (pg 209) Mystical in nature and a common cause of overlap in theology and mathematics, infinity is also elaborately touched upon. When discussing the nature of the unceasing and trying to decode the endless, it is said that “to think about infinity was to think in contradictions” (pg 217). The mystery and the immortality of the concepts, yet their mundanity and commonness created the subtle but long lasting beauty of the book and its awe inspiring numbers. The beginning of the book mainly governs the idea of numbers and language, and the place numbers have in our everyday lives. The chapter “Counting to Four in Icelandic” begins to introduce the hidden yet all encompassing beauty of numbers described in the book. Numbers transcend their given vocations as they become more than just measures of quantity, but also begin to signify the nature of the quantity it is being used to describe. Icelandic numbers under five and their many variations are compared to the “varieties of color” in the English language. Surpassing even the Icelandic language, the Chinese language is then said to have “distinctinctions apply to all quantities” with different names for numbers according to the quantity they are being used to “identify”. Even the “numbering of a crowd thus depends on its composition” (pg 22). In comparison to these two languages, tribal tongues and their lack of numbers are also mentioned. While some tribes are said to have limited numbers, necessary only for the daily tasks, a tribe called Piraha in the Amazon rainforest are told as having no concept of numbers, and represent amount only in the vaugest sense of capacity. A connection is then established with the people’s lack of numbers and lack of stories. Stories are likened to sequences, and a lack of understanding of numbers is speculated to have resulted in a nix of myths and legends. A correlation can be made with the tribe’s understanding of time as the moment lived and the absence of numbers from their tongue. The connection between numbers and language is not the only one established. Another peculiar area explored in the chapter “Invisible Cities”is the importance numbers have had in the planning of the utopian cities of great philosophers and thinkers long past. Plato, one of the forefathers of philosophy and science, renders the perfect city to have a population of 5040. This number is a number divisible by many others, and this mathematical property alone may have been the reason for its intricate selection by the Greek philosopher. Probability is a word on the tongues of all those that speak of the unknown in the vastness of our finite universe. The idea of extraterrestrial life as well, as seen in the chapter “Are we Alone?” cannot be covered without numbers and mathematical calculations. The representation of something as complex as life in numbers, and the entire history and possibility of the creation of life being reduced to mere numbers does much to show how they are the quintessential part of nature, though they exist within the realm of ideas. At the same time, this chapter showcases a different trait of numbers that so far have been personal, comforting, inescapable. Now, with the talk of theory and its clash with reality and the pure chaotic infrastructure of probability, numbers betray their intimidating and surreal nature as well. Theory, practice and the endlessness of possibilities and calculations was apparent in the discussion regarding the existence and probability of extraterrestrial life. References to my favorite authors and key figures in literary history was always delighting to see in the book. The topic of history is analysed with the critiques of Tolstoy, and a connection is established with the infinitesimal calculation of calculus. History is said to be similar to the infinitesimal and cumulative properties of calculus. Tolstoy rejects the mainstream historians' outlook on the commencement of history, as he states that events are not caused by singular actions, but the contributing factors and motives are like points approaching limits though never quite fully decoded. History is not described as a linear equation with one unknown, but as a curve with ever-fluctuating change in need of integral and derivative calculations when gradients fall short of comprehension. The chapter “A Novelist’s Calculus” was a pivotal point in the book when the wonder and omnipresence of numbers, to me, became substantial. Perhaps one of the highlights of the book for me, the “Poetry of the Primes” chapter delved deeper into the oftentimes ignored yet heavenly interconnection between literature and mathematics. More often in poetry than in prose, arithmetics is ever present, and according to some, even affects the aesthetics and the beauty of a poem. The idea of secret numbers hidden behind the most figurative of figures and imaginative of phrases does much to break the logical and abstract walls of numbers and bring them into the very essence of human emotion and expression. Another favorite chapter of mine, “Selves and Statistics” explores the concepts of statistics, unpredictability, and mortality. Though the topic is simple, the reduction of human lives and something as momentous as death to mere numbers and representatives is mind boggling to say the least. The chapter embraces diversity and unpredictability of human nature, and though that seems devoid of numbers and of mathematical precision, the lack of sequence and pattern in such values such as pi and phi are very reminiscent of the sporadic quality of human nature. “‘Variation is the hard reality, not a set of imperfect measures for a central tendency. Means and medians are the abstractions” (pg 208). Time is a quintessential mystery ever pondered upon by diverse thinkers. Though our concept of time is linear, its subjective nature cannot be denied. “Cataract of Time” discusses the fluctuating and fleeting properties of time, and its metamorphosis with age and experience. The idea that two years spent in childhood is more than two years in adulthood, and the impact of mortality on the trickle of time is discussed. Once again, the influence of cultures on the understanding and indication of time is explored. One of the final chapters, “Higher than Heaven”, is one that lingers with the reader long after the book is put aside. Infinity, a constant subject of wonder by humankind all throughout history, is likened to ratios and is explored within the concepts of similarity. The idea of varying infinities are discussed with endless sequences of unceasing numbers. As we try to grasp infinity with our finite minds, it is stated that infinity itself and its comprehension, in actuality, also bears a “‘likeness of proportions’” where “a finite quality equates to another finite quality, in the same way that the infinite is equal to the infinite” (pg 219). Hence, it is proven that our attempts at trying to grasp infinity and endlessness with our finite imaginations is futile. The overlap between theology and mathematics is introduced here, as infinity is a source of inquiry for both disciplines. Finding God in a mathematical concept is something mathematicians and theologians have both attempted, and the two subjects intersect more than I had formerly believed possible. After all, haven’t numbers been as revered, respected and treated as immortal deities? Although “Thinking in Numbers'' proved to be an overall pleasing and enlightening experience, like any other piece of literature, there were some points that I believe have fallen short of my expectations. This book was an undeniably fast paced book, there were chapters where the interest that I had for other concepts was not reignited. Though the author delved into the essence of every day connections that we unconsciously have with numbers, some were just not as astonishing with the other provided ideas, such as the comparison of idioms with the multiplication table, and the chapter dedicated to the differences that stem from having an extra extremity and its impact on counting and the perception of numbers. New thoughts were not always introduced, and though the beauty of the book stems from the awe and fascination it finds in the presence of numbers in the most mundane of occurrences, the occurrences sometimes became too mundane. Some chapters were valuable for the fabrication of the connection between the author and the reader and for the basis of rawness and vulnerability, but the mathematical connections and analogies were not explored with a depth satisfactory to my liking. Surfaces were scratched, but the mathematical and numerical concepts were diluted. The lack of the expansion of mathematical ideas and complexities was the only disappointment that I experienced while reading the book. Predominantly, “Thinking in Numbers” was a delightful read that was reminiscent of the feeling of lying down in nature and marveling at its splendor and earthly virtue, though the cause of wonder was numbers. A childlike awe was very prevalent and gripping all throughout. This book is for anyone that is willing to see mathematics as more than an abstract subject full of agony and confusion. Numbers are made out to be a thing of beauty, and are established as the constituent of everything that surrounds us, springs from us, blooms in us, both audible and imaginary. I have seen that numbers are not entities that I can evade, but that they are a charming part of our lives. Not only is math a pivotal in the most mundane parts of our lives, but they are multifarious: they exist within the realm of theory and the unachievable as well. Both sides to math are explored here. It can even be claimed that math is, perhaps, the most theological of the sciences. Aesthetics flourish in math: within the chaotic and the beautiful. Just like the subject, books on math or numbers are also made out to be for a specific audience, but “Thinking in Numbers” was a light read, inclusive in its attainability. Numbers are not presented as intimidating, but they are familiar yet omnipresent. While reading the book, one is swept by the enthusiasm and pure wonder of the author. “Metaphors”, “are the essence of mathematical thought” (pg 228), “Thinking in Numbers” was a pitch perfect harmony between numbers and the human experience.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Keeley

    This book strikes a pose of naive enthusiasm about the beauty and delight of math in our world, ostensibly to ignite similar enthusiasm and an excitement about learning in its audience. However, the excitement about learning it can nurture is totally at surface level because it is structured in a way that prohibits the reader from exploring deeper. There are no notes. No footnotes, no endnotes, no "if you'd like to learn more about the content in chapter 4..." No acknowledgements of the origins This book strikes a pose of naive enthusiasm about the beauty and delight of math in our world, ostensibly to ignite similar enthusiasm and an excitement about learning in its audience. However, the excitement about learning it can nurture is totally at surface level because it is structured in a way that prohibits the reader from exploring deeper. There are no notes. No footnotes, no endnotes, no "if you'd like to learn more about the content in chapter 4..." No acknowledgements of the origins of the many quotations and translations except one, on p. 174, that is the author's own. It's kind-of a jerk move to quote A.S. Kline's translation of Dante's sestina (pp. 184-86) without ever crediting Kline, for instance. If you want to learn about the Chinese visitor to Antioch in the tenth century who described a water clock in the royal residence (p. 119)...good luck. (Seriously? Chinese travelers in Asia Minor in the 900s are not exactly a widely known phenomenon. Tell me where you learned about this and where I can find additional reputable information on the subject!) When Tammet mentions Pythagoras' "star quality" and "impeccable timing," or that he was "handsome," (p. 64), it might be helpful to reemphasize that "we know next to nothing with any certainty about Pythagoras" (p. 63) and direct readers to the sources. Basically this book is a TV show or a podcast masquerading as a book. If you like to be entertained by the feeling of learning happening around you, give it a read. If you actually want the tools to learn something, there is a ton of amazing popular nonfiction out there that will guide that enthusiasm a lot more effectively. Oh -- I should add -- Max, I apologize profusely for buying you this.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Krystina

    I savored this book. It’s the best thing I’ve read all year. The author has Asperger’s and is a math savant. In each chapter, he gives the most profound thoughts about the relationship of numbers to life. He lets you in to very personal memories, and although sometimes they’re just small snippets that he ties into the larger thought, you get to understand quite a lot about his life and his family. I really loved this book. I can’t wait to read it again and again.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Robin McFarland

    This book, presented as a sequence of distinct essays, works on a much deeper level than that. Ideas presented in one of the essays will have echoes in others, can give more meaning to others. In a way that is reminiscent of the book “Hopscotch” mentioned in one essay, I almost want to read the chapters out of order, to see what further connections appear when their relationships change. The maths in here is good, but this book is about much more than maths, and all the better for it. The real h This book, presented as a sequence of distinct essays, works on a much deeper level than that. Ideas presented in one of the essays will have echoes in others, can give more meaning to others. In a way that is reminiscent of the book “Hopscotch” mentioned in one essay, I almost want to read the chapters out of order, to see what further connections appear when their relationships change. The maths in here is good, but this book is about much more than maths, and all the better for it. The real human stories are what give it its character.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rossdavidh

    Daniel Tammet once (on "Pi Day", aka March 14th, 2004) went to Oxford's Old Ashmolean building, sat down, and recited the first 22,415 digits of pi. It took him a little over five hours. A panel checked his work as he recited it; not a single digit wrong. This might give you the impression that, not only does he like numbers and have a superlative memory, but also that he must be the sort of person who cannot relate to, or perhaps even care about, other humans. What a wonderful surprise, then, t Daniel Tammet once (on "Pi Day", aka March 14th, 2004) went to Oxford's Old Ashmolean building, sat down, and recited the first 22,415 digits of pi. It took him a little over five hours. A panel checked his work as he recited it; not a single digit wrong. This might give you the impression that, not only does he like numbers and have a superlative memory, but also that he must be the sort of person who cannot relate to, or perhaps even care about, other humans. What a wonderful surprise, then, to find that he writes engagingly, with a warmth and empathy which makes one wish to meet him in person. Or not; sometimes it is just as well not to encounter the people one admires, as the reality will have a hard time living up to the image. But what an astonishing and surprising book of charming and sympathetic essays from someone who moves with ease through a field that is a source of dread for so many of us. If there is a common theme to the essays in this book, it is the way in which he enables us to look at linguistics and mathematics as he apparently does, as a source of exciting and elegant and endlessly fascinating discoveries. In addition to pi, we discuss the counting systems of different languages, Omar Khayyám's calendar, how Shakespeare would have learned about the concept of zero, how different cultures learn their times tables, and many other topics, usually at the intersection of math or language, and how people think about them. This, I think, is the crux of Tammet's gift as a writer. His gaze is turned not only towards the object of his interest (for example, counting by elevens), but also towards how other people relate to and think about it. This is, in fact, a much more complex and subtle topic. If you find math difficult to understand, you may shudder to approach thinking about how people think about math. But when he describes himself as a small boy, trudging through the snow, counting the steps between lampposts, then realizing that after he gets halfway to the next one, he will have to get halfway from there, and then cross half the remaining distance...and you can see the small, woolen-capped boy trudging in the snow, then pausing, then racing mentally towards Zeno's paradox, before his father opens the door and shouts at him to come in before he freezes in the cold and dark. There are many such images in Tammet's writing, and I enjoyed them as much as the more abstract topics, and most especially I enjoyed the way he wove the two together.

  25. 5 out of 5

    D.R. Oestreicher

    Thinking in Numbers by Daniel Tammet reminds me of another memoir by an autistic author: Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin. Tammet’s book is an uneven collection of essays on math, literature and personal reflection. Both books demonstrate the self-obsession of (autistic) authors. If your goal is an insight into the autistic mind, Temple Grandin is the far better choice. She gets past her self-obsession, considers the experience of others, and makes general conclusions. Typical of Tammet is Thinking in Numbers by Daniel Tammet reminds me of another memoir by an autistic author: Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin. Tammet’s book is an uneven collection of essays on math, literature and personal reflection. Both books demonstrate the self-obsession of (autistic) authors. If your goal is an insight into the autistic mind, Temple Grandin is the far better choice. She gets past her self-obsession, considers the experience of others, and makes general conclusions. Typical of Tammet is a chapter on his record-breaking recitation of Pi to 22,514 digits. However, this is only the European record, and he made a mistake at digit 2,965. The world record is 67,890, so this chapter is more self-congratulatory than factual or noteworthy. I recommend any book by Temple Grandin instead. For my detailed report: http://1book42day.blogspot.com/2018/0... Check out https://amazon.com/shop/influencer-20... for book recommendations.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    There was less maths than I expected (considering the title), but the bits that were involved were interestingly related to how people currently think (such as about time) and how people have thought throughout history in different events. Each chapter was quick, starting off with a different story/topic, unrelated to the others, that draws you in, with a brief reference to some form of maths later through it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I think for someone with little interest in mathematics, "Thinking in Numbers" would be illuminating to how someone could have interest in it. It reads far more like a memoir than a book about math, though Tammet does express his ideas and opinions on a few topics. I wouldn't go to it as an informative book, but it's a bit like the experience of having a conversation with someone passionate about their interests, it always comes back to math, even if that's not what the proposed subject is. I think for someone with little interest in mathematics, "Thinking in Numbers" would be illuminating to how someone could have interest in it. It reads far more like a memoir than a book about math, though Tammet does express his ideas and opinions on a few topics. I wouldn't go to it as an informative book, but it's a bit like the experience of having a conversation with someone passionate about their interests, it always comes back to math, even if that's not what the proposed subject is.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    This was a very enjoyable book about math. It’s clearly written, interesting, and accessible to the layperson. Tammet could stand to be more precise in some instances For example, talking about "African tribes" is not helpful and a little offensive. Being more specific would strengthen the book. That occasional tendency towards generalization is my major qualm with this book. Other than that, it's pretty great. This was a very enjoyable book about math. It’s clearly written, interesting, and accessible to the layperson. Tammet could stand to be more precise in some instances For example, talking about "African tribes" is not helpful and a little offensive. Being more specific would strengthen the book. That occasional tendency towards generalization is my major qualm with this book. Other than that, it's pretty great.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Richp

    This book is about math, and it is also about Tammet's experiences with Asperger's syndrome. There are much better books about math for the lay reader, and Born on a Blue Day is far more illuminating on the subject of Tammet's life. There are chapters I found interesting, but not that many out of the twenty five. Fortunately, the chapters and book are short. This book is about math, and it is also about Tammet's experiences with Asperger's syndrome. There are much better books about math for the lay reader, and Born on a Blue Day is far more illuminating on the subject of Tammet's life. There are chapters I found interesting, but not that many out of the twenty five. Fortunately, the chapters and book are short.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tanya

    This book was quite hard work in places but some of the chapters had some very interesting concepts.

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