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

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

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

Goodreads rating: 3.8/5 (10K+ ratings)
My rating: 7/10
First Published: 2006
Genre: Autobiography; Non-Fiction

This is a memoir of Daniel Tammet, a man with high functioning autism and savant syndrome. Savant syndrome is what Dustin Hoffman has in Rainman, however Daniel is high functioning and can live a relatively normal life.

The first chapter of this book is eye-opening. Daniel writes about how he sees each individual number, whether it be the number 9 or 131,555, as it’s own image, with it’s own feelings attached to it. He writes about how he can automatically multiply huge numbers in his head without really having to think, and how he uses the feelings that numbers give him to empathise with people.

I probably would have rated this book higher had it continued along the same path*, and had Tammet written more about how his mind worked, however the rest of the book was about his life and experiences. These were definitely still interesting and I enjoyed reading it but it didn’t draw me in as much as the first chapter did.

One of the most amazing parts of the book is when Tammet talks about how he rehearsed to beat the European record for the most decimal places of Pi memorised, and I’m pretty sure he remembered more than 22,500 decimal places of Pi. You’ll have to read the book to find out whether he beat the record or not!

Also in the book he mentions how he goes overseas to film a documentary called Brainman, and after I finished the book I decided to watch it. You can find it on YouTube here.

I have known little bits and pieces about Autism, Aspergers, and Savant Syndrome, but this book is a great way to understand more of what goes through the mind of a person with these conditions, and will also help you understand how to interact with people on the Autism spectrum, so for those reasons I definitely recommend reading it.

*Note: I have just realised, while doing a little bit of background research on this book, that Tammet has since published 2 more books which might possible cover the things I thought this one lacked. His next two books are Embracing the Wide Sky: A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind and Thinking in Numbers: On Life, Love, Meaning, and Math.


If you’ve read this, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts or reading your reviews so please share any links!


#20 Youth – J. M. Coetzee

27 Mar
Youth - J.M. Coetzee

Youth – J.M. Coetzee

Goodreads rating: 3.78/5 (2,200+ ratings)

My rating: 6/10

First Published: 2002 by Secker and Warburg

Genre: Autobiography

So, I only just found out that this book is a semi-fictionalised autobiography by J M Coetzee. When reading it, I thought it was total fiction, and was originally going to comment about how there was no climax/event in this book and how it just plodded along. However, now knowing that it’s actually about Coetzee himself, it’s a lot more interesting! Real life often doesn’t have a huge event that changes the course of your life (usually), which is what you usually expect in a fictional book. Originally I was going to give this a 4, but have moved it to a 6 knowing what I now know.

Basically, Youth is the second book in a series by Coetzee called ‘Scenes from a Provincial Life’ of which there are 3 books. If i’d known it was a series I would’ve read the first book before this one! It follows Coetzee from being an aspiring poet, and mathematics student in Cape Town, South Africa, to moving to London in the 60s and working as a computer programmer whilst trying to pursue his love of poetry and prose.

Youth was a slow read, but it did keep me interested and it wasn’t too long which helped. It was quite depressing though, especially the description of London and how dull his life was. I found him quite boring too, although the book was well written so I was kept interested.

My favourite part of this book was the description of what was happening in South Africa at the time. My Dad is South African and grew up during Apartheid. There were events, political parties, and people referenced in this book that I found myself needing to Google and read up about, which has expanded my knowledge about South Africa, and has made me hungry to read more books about that period in time. I know that it had a big effect on my Dad, and would love to learn more! Also, another thing that i’ve learnt about the author is that although he’s of South African origin, he now lives in Adelaide, Australia which is where my Dad first moved to after leaving South Africa.

I don’t think I’d recommend this. However I’m not turned off reading Coetzee books because I’ve heard great things about some of his other novels, and I do think Youth was well written.


#13 Scandalands – Kyle Sandilands

31 Jan
Scandalands - Kyle Sandilands

Scandalands – Kyle Sandilands

Goodreads rating: 4 (37 ratings)

My rating: 6/10

Why it’s on the list: For those of you who aren’t from Australia, Kyle Sandilands is a ‘shock jock’ on the radio who most people despise and he often wins ‘biggest wanker of the year’ awards. I’m not a huge fan of Kyle’s but was interested in his life, so on the list it went!

First published: November 1st, 2012 by Pan Australia

Genre: Autobiography

If you don’t know who Kyle is, or any of the scandals that have littered his career, then there’s no point in reading this book.

However, if you hate Kyle, or love Kyle, I’d recommend it purely for the fact that it gives a little bit more information to the stories, and actually makes Kyle seem half human, rather than all monster.

It starts with his childhood in Brisbane, where by the age of 15 he was homeless and living under some boxes behind a store. I felt so sad for him, and if you consider that’s where he was 30 years ago, he has come an awfully long way to being a millionaire, successful radio personality.

We then get to read about all his various jobs in radio. Growing up he had 2 passions in life – the police force, and radio – and radio is the one he pursued. He goes through multiple jobs, gets fired and quits in multiple different ways, and loves every minute of it.

He gives away a few juicy secrets too. However, his ex-wife has tweeted “Wow … just read ‘Scandalands’ who knew I would take up half a book with stuff I didn’t even know about my own past life” (Source). This surprised me because he says how they’re still friends, however there are always two sides to the story.

Scandalands is not well written, does not use sophisticated language, and is a basic and easy read, but those are the exact reasons why I’d recommend this book as a light-hearted, quick read. Also, I personally love the fact that most autobiography’s have photos inside, and thankfully so does this book – it’s pretty interesting to see the ‘most hated man in radio’ as a youngster.



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