"Born on a Blue Day" - Daniel Tammet

I found this book a while back walking through a bookstore and thought "That reminds me of something my husband would say." So, I checked it out from the library.
It is written by a man who has Asperger's and is also a savant. He also has synesthesia, which we learned just recently, my husband has as well. Synesthesia is when 2 or more different sense parts of the brain mix things up (seeing word and/or numbers in different colors, textures, patterns, etc...).
It is very interesting reading his descriptions of how he perceives things, like numbers and words. "Born on a Blue Day" is a reference to the day he was born, which to him, the word is a blue word.
Another interest to me is his descriptions of his life and feelings while he was growing up. He wasn't diagnosed as autistic until he was in his twenties. It shows how, through help from his family, he was able to make a life for himself. He volunteered in a foreign country, teaching English. He moved out of his parent's house to live with his partner. He memorized pi to over 22,500 digits. He was able to overcome some of his sensory issues and travels by airplane.
It's pretty amazing to read about his experiences. I hope that this book helps anyone who doesn't understand what it is like to be autistic, and a light for those who are autistic that they find a way to succeed in this world. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to come away with something they didn't know before.

The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova

I found this book in a convenience store while I was stranded for a few hours in Petersburg, Alaska. The teenage boy at the desk was disappointed that I got the last book.

I was drawn into the story early. I found the writing and story telling style different. However, it became slow throughout the middle of the book. The story is told 2nd and sometimes 3rd person through letters the main character is reading. It's not until you get to the last quarter of the book before you start seeing some present-day action.

The book is about a girl, who finds a book in her father's collection that is sinister and mysterious. She persuades her father to tell her about it. He only agrees to do this in small bursts over her teenage years. The reason why is not revealed until late in the book. I won't tell you why, in case you read this book.

The story follows her mother and father through letters she is reading during the middle part of the book, which makes up the bulk of the story. This is where it gets slow and (almost) painful, but there is a lot of information here, it's just hard to get through. I'm usually one to read a book constantly until it's done, sleep be dammed. It was easy to put this book down while I was reading the middle of it. In fact, I've been reading this book off and on for a while now.

Once you get to the last quarter of the book, if you haven't suffered through the middle, you won't get what's happening. This is where I couldn't put it down.

The end was good, if not anti-climactic. Maybe I'm just too used to more action in my books. I thought that because the book is about vampires, that it would be more riviting.

If you have nothing better to read, this is a good time-filler. But there are probably books in existance that are more entertaining.


"The Speed of Dark" - Elizabeth Moon

I found this book as I was looking through the sci-fi section at the bookstore for something new to read, and the title caught my eye.

This is the story of Lou Arrendale, a man with autism living at some point in the future in which an experimental cure for autism has been developed, in the form of risky brain surgery. Within the broader context of a look at this man's life, perceptions, challenges, and relationships, the book explores the conflicts surrounding the "cure" on many levels -- within the autism community, between the NT (neurotypical) and autism communities, and the inner conflict that this man and his friends face.

If you've seen the movie "X-men 3," the conflict is reminiscent of what those characters faced -- the conflict between those who are "typical" and those who are "different" and how some of the "different" people feel blessed to be so and have no desire to change, while others feel ostracized and want nothing more than to be just like everyone else. As for the "typical" folks, some of them feel justified in forcing their "cure" on others, while others respect the right of individuals to choose for themselves.

One of the questions addressed in the book is that of what makes a person who they are? In the autism community the issue of whether "curing" someone of autism (if it were possible, which it is not) would fundamentally change who they are and whether a "cure" should be a goal or not is hotly debated. In the story, early intervention efforts have proven quite successful and so the brain surgery "cure" is really something addressed only at those adults who were born too late to benefit from the early treatments made available to their younger counterparts.

As a mother of three sons with autism, this story touched me on a very personal level. The author is also the mother of an autistic child (teenager) and her knowledge of autism comes through in the book, giving it a genuine feel. I found myself alternately thinking, "wow, that sounds like something one of my sons would say!" and wondering sadly whether my sons would have to face these same kinds of challenges and difficulties as adults. I don't always like stories written in first-person, but I love that this book is written that way, as it gives us great insight to see how Lou thinks and the way he perceives his world.

I won't give away whether Lou chose to have the surgery or what the outcome of his decision was, but I will say that the way it is written, the author simply presents the outcome, without inferring a judgment on whether Lou's decision was "right" or "wrong." Truly, the "right" decision is a very individual thing anyway, and probably not the same for everyone, like many of the decisions we all face in life. It's been a while since I've read this, but Lou's story is one that I won't soon forget -- definitely worth the read.


I haven't forgotten...

I am about 2/3rds of the way through "The Historian." It's taking me a while to read it, so watch for my review (hopefully) in a few weeks.