Reviews / Media

Book reviews

"Tammet, a high-functioning autistic savant, is the author of a best-selling autobiography, 'Born on a Blue Day', and he brings to 'Thinking in Numbers' the memoirist's handiness with a well-placed detail. In his new book, the details come not from his own life story but from a broad landscape of mathematical, intellectual, and literary history ... the wide reading serves him well."
(Boston Globe, July 27 2013)

"Against all odds, Tammet has crafted a quirky, thoughtful meditation on how math permeates everyday life ... There are few equations in 'Thinking in Numbers'. Rather, there are short essays exploring how numbers dance and flow through our daily rhythms, from birth to work to play to death. The result is an eclectic peek into a mathematically rich world."
(Dallas Morning News, August 2 2013)

"Daniel Tammet loves math — not in an abstract, chilly way but with a sensuous pleasure that he communicates vividly even to people who don't or can't share it ... In an essay on mortality tables, Tammet makes the point that nobody is "average", and that in fact, "the essence of human nature is its endless variety." His way of looking at the world, quirky though it may be, delightfully broadens the reader's experience of the everyday."
(Columbus Dispatch, July 28 2013)

"This, the 34-year-old's third book, is a whimsical, irresistible tour through the magic of numbers. You won't find many equations here. Instead, Tammet takes us from Shakespeare's obsession with the number zero to the patterns of math within chess, to the near-mystical "googolplex", the largest number ever conceived (except, of course, for "googolplex plus one") ... What makes him a generous and gifted author, though, is his desire (and ability) to communicate what it feels like to be him. Tammet's easy prose contrasts with the complexity of his subject, allowing the knottiest of ideas to slip unencumbered into the understanding of even the most math-challenged reader."
(Globe and Mail, August 9 2013)

"It doesn’t take long for the reader to realize that these are essays like Montaigne's, little meditations, bouncing ideas around and marveling at the connections and variety and sublimity of numbers. One lovely piece highlights the introduction of the idea of nullity into English, called "Shakespeare's Zero." Another, called "Shapes of Speech", demonstrates the unity of mathematics and rhetoric. It starts with Pythagoras and also touches on Aristotle, Euclid, and Abraham Lincoln. It ends, "Friendship is equality". Clearly, and to his credit, Tammet has a heart as capacious as his intellect."
(Washington Independent Review of Books, August 12 2013)

"His highly literate enthusiasm shimmers on every page of 'Thinking in Numbers'. He refers illuminatingly to Borges, Cortazar, Flaubert, Poe, Chesterton and his fellow synaesthete, Nabokov. Tammet's analysis of an extract from Dante is startlingly perceptive... this enchanting book... discussing the unique fusion of aesthetic and mathematical beauty in each individual snowflake, Anne Boleyn's six-fingered hand or Abraham Lincoln's debt to Euclid, he succeeds magnificently."
(Adam Feinstein, Times Literary Supplement, 15/02/13)

"As fluid with words as with numbers, his essays are artfully constructed: intriguing openings to entice us; interesting snippets of history; accessible but unpatronising tones; neat endings... this delightful volume,"
(Leyla Sanai, The Independent, 17/09/12)

"In this scintillating collection of 25 essays (I wonder why he did not stop at a more easily divided 24) Tammet enlightens and entertains in (approximately) equal measure."
(Express, 28/08/12)

"Tammet's choice of subjects is personal, and wonderfully eclectic... What lifts Tammet's entertaining collection above the ordinary are the often surprising links that he sees, explores and explains."
(Manjit Kumar, The Sunday Telegraph, 22/08/12)

"An interesting and often beautiful approach: Tammet writes well... and his love of numbers shines from the page... Tammet's discussion of big numbers is fascinating."
(Tom Chivers, The Daily Telegraph, 22/08/12)

"Thinking in Numbers is unprecedented: a pitch-perfect duet between mathematics and literature... Mathematics, Tammet says, is illimitable. It is a language through which the human imagination expresses itself. Presumably this means mathematics has, or deserves, a literature. In Tammet, it already has a laureate."
(New Scientist, 14/08/12)

"Seven years ago, for a documentary, he taught himself to understand Icelandic in a week. At about the same time he was diagnosed as having savant syndrome by the authority in autism, Professor Simon Baron-Cohen. Now it feels as though, with a few more years of application, he has somehow taught himself to understand the language of humanity - a language that long eluded him."
(Tom Whipple, The Sunday Times, 12/08/12)

"His writing defies neat classification as non-fiction. Instead it occupies a liminal position, somewhere between non-fiction and literary prose ... By imagining numbers in this way, creatively and imaginatively, Tammet is dissolving the dichotomy between mathematics on one hand and art on the other."
(Scotsman Magazine, 12/08/2012)

“Tammets Buch ist eine originelle Einführung in die moderne Kognitionsforschung - und macht Lust, die Möglichkeiten des menschlichen Gehirns selbst zu entdecken.”
(Frankfurter Neue Presse, 26/03/09)

"Tammet seamlessly blends science and personal experience in a powerful paean to the mysteries and beauty of the brain... Tammet concludes that all humans have something unique to contribute to the world, and he himself has a gift for rendering science accessible and even delightful."
(Publishers Weekly starred review, 2009)

“Far from a one-dimensional prodigy, his is a rich, multi-textured intelligence. A beautiful mind … Tammet writes about the world at one degree removed. His perspective gives him fresh eyes and fresh words … Yet what is most remarkable about Daniel Tammet is not that one day he could be listed among the great minds of the world – though there is every reason to think that he might be. The truly remarkable thing is the quiet determination by which he has become an ordinary man.”
(Scotsman, 11/2/09)

“Tammet has startled the experts again by producing a second book, Embracing the Wide Sky, in which he goes further than anybody had imagined possible in explaining how his mind works, and putting forward his own theories on how normal and autistic brains function.”
(Peter Wilson, The Australian, 31/01/09)

“Poetico, delicato, commovente, colmo di tenerezza: questo libro è un'occasione per conoscere una storia personale ma anche per riflettere su quanto la vita di persone speciali possa essere complicata all'inverosimile.”
(DGMag.it, 09/04/08)

“Il y a du Rimbaud chez Daniel Tammet. Comme le poète halluciné de Voyelles - A noir, E blanc, I rouge -, ce jeune Anglais accouple lettres et couleurs. Mais sa vision est infiniment plus riche. A chaque chiffre, chaque lettre, chaque mot, il associe une couleur, une forme, une texture. Et souvent un son ou une sensation.”
(Jean-Pierre Langellier, Le Monde, 4/8/07)

“Tammet kom hér fyrir tveimur árum með breskum kvikmyndagerðarmönnum sem höfðu lagt fyrir hann þá þraut að læra íslensku á fáeinum dögum. Að þeim dögum liðnum kom hann fram í Kastljósi Ríkissjónvarpsins og sat fyrir svörum á furðulega góðri íslensku.”
(Hallgrímur Helgi Helgason, MBL.is, 17/06/07)

"In his remarkable and moving memoir Born on a Blue Day, autistic savant Daniel Tammet recounts firsthand the powerful visual and emotional connections he has with numbers… Tammet, now 28, manages the feat of introspection - and self-insight. His book brims with humanity. His approach is honest, eloquent, at times funny and completely free of pity."
(Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2007)

“In this remarkable, revealing and nearly flawless memoir, Tammet takes us into a world that is as distant from ours as the Earth is from the stars.”
(Phillip Manning, Raleigh News & Observer, 25/02/07)

“Mr Tammet’s book is an elegant account of how his condition has informed his life, a rare first-person insight into a mysterious and confounding disorder. He is unusual not just because of his lucid writing style and his ability to analyze his own thoughts and behavior, but also because he is one of fewer than 100 “prodigious savants” – autistic or otherwise mentally impaired people with spectacular, almost preternatural skills – in the world, according to Dr. Darold Treffert, a researcher of savant syndrome.”
(Sarah Lyall, New York Times, 15/02/07)

“Although Tammet is only 27, his autobiography is as fascinating as Benjamin Franklin's and John Stuart Mill's, both of which are, like his, about the growth of a mind … He also writes some of the clearest prose this side of Hemingway”
(Ray Olson, Booklist starred review)

“A riveting account of living with autism … transcends the disability memoir genre”
(Kirkus, starred review, Jan 9 2007)

“As one of fewer than 50 autistic savants living in the world today, Tammet would be deemed remarkable by any standard; but what makes him truly exceptional is that he alone has overcome his crippling disabilities to live independently, form lasting relationships, and describe his world in an astonishingly articulate manner. A unique firsthand account rendered in precise -- and often lyrically poetic -- language, Born on a Blue Day reveals the inner workings of a beautiful mind in all its chaotic splendor.”
(Barnes & Noble editorial review, 2007)

“This is his remarkable story, told, as you might expect, in a remarkable way...His writing has a cool, compelling strangeness. His is a unique view of the world...this impressive book."
(Joan Bakewell, Mail On Sunday, 2006)

“In Born on a Blue Day, Tammet describes growing up with numbers as his only friends. He writes so elegantly that the book's oddness only slowly dawns: there is no dialogue, no humour, none of the "silly-me" stuff that you might expect. Instead, he tells his story dead straight, with an eager desire to explain himself.”
(Cassandra Jardine, Guardian, 10/7/06)

"Something in the way that Mr. Tammet describes the beautiful, aching, hallucinatory process of arriving at his answers illuminates the excitement of all cogitation."
(Virginia Heffernan, New York Times, 23/2/05)