This book was one I wouldn't have walked in looking to find, but I'm glad I found it. Tammet is the eldest of 9 children born in London to apparently somewhat lower middle class parents; from the few clues he gives in these essays, his was no "reality show" big-family upbringing. Perhaps he gives more details on his childhood in his other books, but here the focus is on numbers--what they mean, how they group in patterns, how we use them, how we memorize them, even how we say them (in Icelandic, for example, how you count to 4 depends on what you are counting). Tammet is clearly able because of his unique intellectual gift to see numbers in ways most of us never will (one essay describes his five+ hours reciting pi to over 22,000 plays to set a world record), but he is also a good enough writer to help the reader see something of what he sees in numbers.
In his concluding essay about the art of math he applies math to analogy as a tool to enable "the quintessentially human ability to make connections . . . between disparate things." That is the spirit and the wonder that drives my reading and helps me decide which of those cherished sets of words in ink on paper bound and cataloged on the shelf at the library will be my next adventure for the catholic reader.
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