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Embracing the Wide Sky

Embracing the Wide Sky

A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind

  • reading group guide
Owner of "the most remarkable mind on the planet," (according to Entertainment Weekly) Daniel Tammet captivated readers and won worldwide critical acclaim with the 2007 New York Times bestselling memoir, Born On A Blue Day, and its vivid depiction of a life with autistic savant syndrome. In his fascinating new book, he writes with characteristic clarity and personal awareness as he sheds light on the mysteries of savants' incredible mental abilities, and our own.

Tammet explains that the differences between savant and non-savant minds have been exaggerated; his astonishing capacities in memory, math and language are neither due to a cerebral supercomputer nor any genetic quirk, but are rather the results of a highly rich and complex associative form of thinking and imagination. Autistic thought, he argues, is an extreme variation of a kind that we all do, from daydreaming to the use of puns and metaphors.

Embracing the Wide Sky combines meticulous scientific research with Tammet's detailed descriptions of how his mind works to demonstrate the immense potential within us all. He explains how our natural intuitions can help us to learn a foreign language, why his memories are like symphonies, and what numbers and giraffes have in common. We also discover why there is more to intelligence than IQ, how optical illusions fool our brains, and why too much information can make you dumb.

Many readers will be particularly intrigued by Tammet's original ideas concerning the genesis of genius and exceptional creativity. He illustrates his arguments with examples as diverse as the private languages of twins, the compositions of poets with autism, and the breakthroughs, and breakdowns, of some of history's greatest minds.
Embracing the Wide Sky is a unique and brilliantly imaginative portrait of how we think, learn, remember and create, brimming with personal insights and anecdotes, and explanations of the most up-to-date, mind-bending discoveries from fields ranging from neuroscience to psychology and linguistics. This is a profound and provocative book that will transform our understanding and respect for every kind of mind.
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416576181 | 
  • December 2009
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Reading Group Guide

Embracing the Wide Sky is a new book by the New York Times bestselling author of Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant. Here, Daniel takes us not only into his life as an autistic savant, but also into the workings of his mind. Having one of the world's most examined brains, and having been the subject of leading neuroscientists in the U.S. and the UK, he is particularly equipped to explain what science has learned about him and about all of our brains. He explains how he masters languages, math and memorization, demonstrating in the process the immense potential that is within us all.
Drawing on his personal experience in fascinating and profound ways, Daniel shows that the deepest secrets of the brain may be hidden in plain sight. His tour across the horizons of the mind will fascinate and instruct and open our eyes to the beauty found in every kind of mind.
1. Tammet states that one of his intentions in writing Embracing the Wide Sky is to show that the thinking processes of geniuses and autistic savants is not so different from everyone else and that "anyone can learn from them" (Pg. 9). Do you think he has successfully shown this? Why or why not? What are some of the things that you learned, which if applied might enhance your own mental performance?
2. Tammet hopes to alter our perceptions about the nature of autistic savants. He states that "even to this day autistic savants are too often view see more

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About the Author

Daniel Tammet
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Daniel Tammet

Daniel Tammet is a writer, linguist, and educator. A 2007 poll of 4,000 Britons named him as one of the world's "100 living geniuses." His last book, the New York Times bestseller Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant, has been translated into 18 languages. He lives in Avignon, France.

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