Thursday, July 26, 2012

Born On a Blue Day

From Goodreads:born on a blue day

One of the world's fifty living autistic savants is the first and only to tell his compelling and inspiring life story - and explain how his incredible mind works.
This unique first-person account offers a window into the mind of a high-functioning, 27-year-old British autistic savant with Asperger's syndrome. Tammet's ability to think abstractly, deviate from routine, and empathize, interact and communicate with others is impaired, yet he's capable of incredible feats of memorization and mental calculation. Besides being able to effortlessly multiply and divide huge sums in his head with the speed and accuracy of a computer, Tammet, the subject of the 2005 documentary Brainman, learned Icelandic in a single week and recited the number pi up to the 22,514th digit, breaking the European record. He also experiences synesthesia, an unusual neurological syndrome that enables him to experience numbers and words as "shapes, colors, textures and motions." Tammet traces his life from a frustrating, withdrawn childhood and adolescence to his adult achievements, which include teaching in Lithuania, achieving financial independence with an educational Web site and sustaining a long-term romantic relationship. As one of only about 50 people living today with synesthesia and autism, Tammet's condition is intriguing to researchers; his ability to express himself clearly and with a surprisingly engaging tone (given his symptoms) makes for an account that will intrigue others as well

My Review: This is a book that was recommended to me by a friend. I had heard of Daniel Tammet but did not realize he had a book out so needless to say I was curious to read this book.

Daniel is a high functioning autistic savant. He is one of only 50 living savants in the world and the only one that can explain his thought processes. This makes him remarkable in more ways than one.

This book is his autobiography and in it he details his life growing up knowing that he was different but not knowing how. He tells us how difficult school was and how he had a hard time connecting with other children.

The book was dry but nevertheless I found it a fascinating account of how he explained how his brain works. He has Synthesia which allows him to visualize numbers and letters as images. These images helps him memorize to such a degree that he broke England's record for reciting the most digits in the number PI.

He can also learn languages in just a week. He explains how for a TV program they asked him to learn Icelandic in just four days. After conversing in Icelandic for four days he was able to give an interview all in Icelandic. The way he learned it was amazing.  I wish I could do that. I struggled to learn French.

This a rare account into the mind of an autistic savant. No other savant can communicate such details to us.

This is a book I think everyone should read if just for the educational opportunities it affords.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


From Goodreads:eb

Electroboy is an emotionally frenzied memoir that reveals with kaleidoscopic intensity the terrifying world of manic depression. For years Andy Behrman hid his raging mania behind a larger-than-life personality. He sought a high wherever he could find one and changed jobs the way some people change outfits: filmmaker, PR agent, art dealer, stripper-whatever made him feel like a cartoon character, invincible and bright. Misdiagnosed by psychiatrists and psychotherapists for years, his condition exacted a terrible price: out-of-control euphoric highs and tornadolike rages of depression that put his life in jeopardy.
Ignoring his crescendoing illness, Behrman struggled to keep up appearances, clinging to the golden-boy image he had cultivated in his youth. But when he turned to art forgery, he found himself the subject of a scandal lapped up by the New York media, then incarcerated, then under house arrest. And for the first time the golden boy didn’t have a ready escape hatch from his unraveling life. Ingesting handfuls of antidepressants and tranquilizers and feeling his mind lose traction, he opted for the last resort: electroshock therapy.
At once hilarious and harrowing, Electroboy paints a mesmerizing portrait of a man held hostage by his in-satiable desire to consume. Along the way, it shows us the New York that never sleeps: a world of strip clubs, after-hours dives, and twenty-four-hour coffee shops, whose cheap seductions offer comfort to the city’s lonely souls. This unforgettable memoir is a unique contribution to the literature of mental illness and introduces a writer whose energy may well keep you up all night.

My Review: I have a confession to make. I myself have bipolar and discover the gem of a book when I was first diagnosed. I went to the library and asked to check out books related to bipolar and this is one of those they gave me. This is also one of my favorite memoirs related to bipolar disorder. This is also on my yearly re- read list

This book brings a lot of comfort to me I read it to know that I am not alone. That some one else went through worse than I did and survived and is now functional.

I feel it is important to have books such as these to know what bipolar really is like. The doctors fail to explain in depth what it is and there is so much misinformation out there related to bipolar. It is important to have as accurate information as possible.

One reason I like this book is that he conveys what happened to him in a humors light. There are so many doom and gloom tales of mental illness that it is refreshing to have one that is downright funny. I laughed all thorough this book.

He tells about his journey with medicines and their side effects. The meds did not work well for him so he and his doctor decided to try electro shock therapy. That’s is how he got his name. He explains how he his memory was affected and how he lived through the side effects. This is an honest portrayal of what electro shock therapy is like. There is no glamorizing here. In fact there is no glamorizing in any of this book. This is a raw gritty account of what bipolar is.It expresses the manic highs and the lows and the rage that comes with it.

Overall I feel this is a must read book. even if you don’t have bipolar you can get enjoyment out of this book and learn about it at the same time.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Procrastination Equation


From Goodreads:

The world's leading expert on procrastination uses his groundbreaking research to offer understanding on a matter that bedevils us all. Writing with humour, humanity and solid scientific information reminiscent of Stumbling on Happiness and Freakonomics, Piers Steel explains why we knowingly and willingly put off a course of action despite recognizing we'll be worse off for it.
For those who surf the Web instead of finishing overdue assignments, who always say diets start tomorrow, who stay up late watching TV to put off going to sleep, The Procrastination Equation explains why we do what we do — or in this case don't — and why in Western societies we're in the midst of an escalating procrastination epidemic.
Dr. Piers Steel takes on the myths and misunderstandings behind procrastination and motivation — showing us how procrastination affects our lives, health, careers and happiness and what we can do about it. With accessible prose and the benefits of new scientific research, he provides insight into why we procrastinate even though the result is that we are less happy, healthy, even wealthy. Who procrastinates and why? How many ways, big and small, do we procrastinate? How can we stop doing it? The reasons are part cultural, part psychological, part biological. And, with a million new ways to distract ourselves in the digitized world — all of which feed on our built-in impulsiveness — more of us are potentially damaging ourselves by putting things off. But Steel not only analyzes the factors that weigh us down but the things that motivate us — including understanding the value of procrastination.

My Review: I admit I was skeptical when first reading this book. You see, I have this huge problem with procrastination. I have read other books on this topic and the all spouted some theory or such that did not really resonate with me. Not so with this book. I was pleasantly surprised when I started reading this book and recognized myself in the examples. This book is supposedly based on real scientific theory. I did not check the sources but everything made sense.

The author explains the three profiles of procrastinators.He explains in detail why we procrastinate. then he gives us a way to beat that procrastination. For example he says that people work harder the closer they get to a deadline. I know I Procrastinate on this blog so I made a schedule to give myself a “deadline “ for book reviews. I am just now putting this into practice so we shall see how well it works. He also said that people work better with schedules. So I also implemented that into my plan.

The book was easy to read and very accessible. There were not many jargon words. If there were he explains in detail what he means.

I would recommended this book to anyone interested in seeking happiness (improving procrastination is on that list) and anyone who wants a sound book on improving efficiency.

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