Book Review: Born on a Blue Day

Book Review: Born on a Blue Day

Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammet

I’m fascinated by the mind and how the brain works and so I really enjoyed this memoir, written by a young English man with savant syndrome. Rather like the title character in Rain Man, he is able to perform amazing mathematical calculations. (He describes how he went to Utah to meet Kim Peek, who was the inspiration for the character played by Dustin Hoffman.)

Tammet explores his own mental abilities and differences with a very self-conscious approach, aware that he is different and eager to explore the workings of his own mind. He explains how his synesthesia mean that he experiences numbers visually as colors and shapes and they create landscapes in his head. He explains the connection between how he perceives numbers and his ability to remember long streams of numbers (like memorizing pi to 22,514 digits). Words too have color and their color and shape and his visual memory give him a remarkable gift for languages. He learned Icelandic in a matter of days, speaking it well enough to be interviewed on Icelandic television. 

Especially interesting to me was the final few pages, which are almost an afterthought in the text, about discovering God and becoming a Christian, primarily because of the writing of Chesterton. I wish he’d expanded on that a bit further, though perhaps there isn’t more to say. He feels a great kinship for Chesterton and speculates that Chesterton himself might have been on the higher-functioning end of the autistic spectrum, based on many details of Chesterton’s life.

One reservation about the book, very minor. Tammet is gay and in a homosexual relationship; but there is little detail about his romantic life.  He mentions his partner Neil to explain how that relationship teaches him about love. Interestingly, it is his experience of falling in love that allows him to appreciate his family and to relate to them emotionally, to understand familial love.

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  • Melanie, I swear I DID NOT laugh when I read Jen’s story, and they got me 2 weeks ago too. There was carpet shampooing involved. My daughter’s still talking about it.

  • OK, I’m snickering, but find this to be dangerous territory as I don’t have kids and probably won’t ever have children as I don’t believe I’m called to marriage.

    However tomorrow I’m going to a friend’s house for dinner, 2 families, 6 kids involved…

    Oh, I want to laugh but I’m afraid to…..!

  • Oh, dear…

    Melanie, I realize you’ve got quite enough to keep you busy at the moment, but if Sophie’s diaper rash persists (as it seems likely to do given the aggravating factors), you may want to give cloth diapering a try. One of my blog friends started it when her second or third child developed a persistent diaper rash, and she absolutely loves it now. She said that since she started using cloth, they’ve only had a rash when she’s left a diaper on too long, and even then it clears up right away.

    If nothing else, you may want to see about a diaper service for a week or two, to see if it helps, rather than investing in your own cloth diaper system. Just a thought.

    (I didn’t laugh, but I am sure that if God answers my husband’s and my prayers for children, the poop fates will be all over us…)

  • Hi, Melanie,
    My son had undiagnosed food sensitivities resulting in diarrhea which pretty much ate the skin off his poor little butt.  We’re talking a bloody, weepy, baby screaming mess.  Dyprotex to the rescue!  You used to be able to get it at Walgreens, but it appears you can only get it online now (Amazon).  We found it was the only thing that would bond well to weepy, bleeding wounds, and produced VERY fast results.  It also gave little guy immediate relief.  I can’t recommend it strongly enough.