Daniel Tammet is a smart guy. He’s also been diagnosed with high-functioning autism. These characteristics allowed Tammet the ability and unique perspective to write a fascinating book, “Embracing the Wide Sky”.
Surveying dozens of aspects of the mind–from the nature of intelligence to various aspects of autistic thinking–the author describes scientific studies and offers personal experience to support his claim that all minds are beautiful. Some of the most interesting sections of the book are about autistic minds. Tammet describes how he recited the mathematical constant Pi (you know the 3.141… from geometry class) from memory to 22,514 decimal places. Tammet explains that he can do this easily because the way he sees numbers is similar to how non-autistics see words like giraffe–he visualizes them (e.g. 1 is bright, 2 is spherical, 3 is hard, 111 is spinning, etc.). Tammet also describes the mind’s relationship with language, memory, and weird behavior (what he classifies playing the lottery).
Tammet does jump around quite a bit in the book (prompting me to believe he must have some sort of literary ADD as well as autism), but for the most part the book is consistent and easy-to-follow. One doesn’t need a neurology degree to take away a lot of useful information here. Some of his conclusions are unfounded (like we MUST preserve dying languages–who shall we assign that task?), but for the most part, “Sky” is highly agreeable.