Sunday, 15 June 2014

June Books (Twitterature)

In May and June, it's all about easing into summertime. I've still been reading plenty in Finnish, but I won't go into those books here.

Linking with the lovely Modern Mrs Darcy's Twitterature link-up. Go there for more, and more, and more recommendations and short reviews of books.

First a couple of books in the category of "borrowed on an impulse from the e-library"...

Kathi Lipp: The Get Yourself Organized Project
I like Kathi Lipp's ideas for cleaning clutter and getting organized. My favourite thought in this book was looking for the way we naturally do things and going from there: for example, if you always open your mail in the kitchen, arrange the space for sorting out the mail in the kitchen, so it's easy to put things right where they belong.
I'm probably not quite the target audience - too "naturally organized" for that - but we have our clutter points, and I sorely need to develop better ways to deal with paperwork.

Rich Roll: Finding Ultra
From an alcoholic and an overweight couch potato to a competitive vegan triathlonist. Yes, his life has been quite a journey, and I did finish the book. But felt a bit blah. I guess that for me to really like a memoir, I need to somehow connect with the people in it, and that didn't happen with this one.

And then for the books that had been on my TBR list. Looks like Asperger was one of my reading themes... 

Daniel Tammet: Born on a Blue Day. A Memoir of Asperger's and an Extraordinary Mind
Daniel has Asperger's syndrome, synesthesia, and savant syndrome. His mind is truly extraordinary, and what is even more rare and extraordinary: he can describe his thought processes eloquently and vividly. Numbers are his "friends", and like a first language to him. And yet he loves words, too, and he can learn a new language in a week or so.
This is a fascinating book, and I really enjoyed reading it.

Fun detail: I looked at his surname and thought "That's not a typical English surname, it sounds Estonian." The book said nothing about his surname, but later I looked at his homepage and the Wikipedia page about him, and it turns out he has changed his surname himself, choosing the Estonian word. (The word tammet is also Finnish and means "oaks", but the plural form is not used as a name in Finnish.)

Mark Haddon: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Initially, I found it hard to get into the story. It was intriguing, though. Picking up the clues the narrator (a boy who is somewhere in the autism spectrum) didn't. Trying to piece together an idea of what the people in his life were like. A good read.
Thank you, Jeannie, for recommending this!

However. Reading Haddon's novel right after Tammet's memoir (and having read another memoir by a woman with Asperger's, not so long ago), made me ponder the limits of fiction. Haddon doesn't claim to be especially knowledgeable about autism/Asperger's. The novel is his impression of how a person with Asperger's (or somewhere on the autism spectrum) might think. It's a tool for telling the story and describing familiar things, like the London Underground, from a new and fresh viewpoint. Nothing wrong with that, of course. Authors need fresh viewpoints.

Perhaps Haddon's novel also helps some 'normal' people to have more empathy for someone with Asperger. How hard it is when the way you perceive things is so different from other people's. How overwhelming some situations can feel, and that's what causes the 'strange' behaviour. It's easier for many people, I suppose, to pick up Haddons novel rather than Tammet's memoir.

Yet, personally, I got more out of the real-life stories of Daniel Tammet and Paula Tilli. I guess that's just how my mind works. :)


  1. Born on a Blue Day sounds so interesting--I'm adding that to my to-read list!

  2. really interesting about the books on asperger's! just found out one of my friend's sons has asperger's, and i had no idea. i've heard of the hadron book forever ago, but didn't realize it was about someone on the autism spectrum. another one to add to my TBR :)

    whitney @ journey mercies

  3. Clicked over from Twitterature. Born on a Blue Day strikes me the most. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Hi Tuija - thanks for your book picks. The Tammet one really looks good. I love reading about the lives of people with Aspergers/Autism (as you know) and I think my daughter is also interested in finding out more about people who are, in some way at least, like her.

  5. Born on a Blue Day sounds fascinating. I've never heard of it before. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thank you all for your comments! It's fun to see how the book that I liked best among this month's reading also appeals to others. :)

  7. Tuija, I just wanted to tell you that today I was at the bookstore browsing the under-$10 table and there was Born on a Blue Day -- so I bought it! So I may be reviewing it on next month's Twitterature myself. So glad to have read your post or the book might never have caught my eye.

    1. I'm looking forward to hearing your take on it, Jeannie!

      One more thing: I discovered that the documentary film about Daniel Tammet - called "The Boy With The Incredible Brain" - is available on YouTube. In the book, he writes quite a bit about his experiences while making the film, so I liked seeing it. Tammet doesn't describe what people and places look like (much), so getting the visual was a nice bonus :)