Full book name: "The curious incident of the dog in the night-time"

When I was in Ireland, strolling through the bookshops, this book was everywhere, just all over the place. My first impression was that it's a book for children (judging by the cover, the simplistic name and some of the illustrations I saw inside), so I kind-of dropped it out if my head.

What changed my mind was Joel's very favorable review in joelonsoftware.com - I consider him to be a very intelligent and interesting guy, and if he says it was his best read this year, there must be something to this book.

And I wholeheartedly agree with him. This book is just awesome. Buy it, now. Go... Run... it's like nothing you're ever read before, I assure you.

The book tells a story of Christopher (from his point of view), a boy suffering from some mild form of autism (Asperger's Syndrome). Christopher writes a "detective book", advised by his teacher, starting with an incident when he found a murdered dog in his neighbour's yard. This way, the reader gains a unique insight into the mind of someone suffering from autism. Christopher hates when people touch him, when unknown people talk to him. He hates too many detail (because he remembers and notices everything), hates the colors yellow and brown, and loves red (he actually has a red food coloring, to turn yellow food into red one...). He has phenomenal abilities for math, but almost no human-interaction skills. He does complex mathematical calculations in his head to calm down.

The writing style is very light, and the book is short, so it takes only a few hours to finish. Christopher is 15 years old after all. He likes detective stories, but hates void descriptions which are heavily employed by many novelists, so his book is simplicity itself. Only the needed details are included, and the plot flows quickly, directly. The few times Christopher digresses, he explicitly notes it ("Siobhan told me it's good to include a description in a book, so..."), and most of the digressions are mathematical problems he found interesting (by the way, the "tree" solution of the Monty Hall problem presented in the book is one of the clearest I've seen).

Something scared me about this book. I noticed, that in many places I actually agree with Christopher, and share his point of view. Many of his "abnormal" traits touch something in me. Not that I have those problems, but I did think about them at least once before. I guess we all have some specks of autism in us. It's a continuous domain - Christopher, for example, is an autist, but with a light form (he can talk with people when he wants, and can get around by himself, though problematically). I'm really interested if other geeks (like me ;-) agreed with Christopher's way of looking at things (at least a little).

The conclusion here is simple: I found the book to be great. By all means, read it. Highly recommended.


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