The Rosie Project: A Book Review

There are some books out there that are pretty pedestrian.  Then there are others who take you gently by the hand and lead you into a world that feels real, complete, wonderful.  Thankfully, this book falls in the latter.  So well entrenched is it that it felt heartrending to tear myself away and return to the real world, even when it had finished.

What is it about?

Professor Don Tillman, working in the Genetics department at the University of Melbourne, wants a wife.  Not everyone’s cup of tea and certainly not mine, normally.  What sets it apart though is the fact that Don has got Asperger’s syndrome, granted it is undiagnosed.  The other intriguing piece of news is that the woman in the title is looking for her father.

For a book that is essentially a romance novel, it doesn’t feel like one.  It helps that we experience life from Don’s point of view.  Some may accuse Don of being cold and heartless but that is not his fault, his brain has been wired differently.  His world consists of logic, systems and efficiency.  If it does not fit into any of these categories it does not feature in his life.  Then Rosie walks into his life.

It makes sense that Rosie is not a perfect life partner for Don.  For one thing it means that Don is not nervous around her  In fact, it helps that Rosie loves his special nature.  Time and again we see Don’s learning ability in action.  Then the newly acquired skill is put to the test.

The best example is the Great Cocktail Night.  Watching him perform his temporary role was fascinating.  Even when presented with a problem he already has a solution in mind.

The more I read The Rosie Project the more I came to see some of Don’s traits in myself.  I say some because, unlike Don, I can feel empathy.  So much so that I found it hard to read when Don didn’t get the girl.  After all they had been through together, why was she refusing him?

A major drawback for her was Don’s incapability for love.  She would not enter a relationship unless she knew she could be loved. Happily, Don doesn’t take no for an answer.

Looking back I can say that I loved reading this book.  If you’ve not read this book before then you’re in for a treat.  Charming, funny, sad, happy this book has all of these and more.  Buy it, read it, love it then do it all over again because its that good.

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Character Portraits: Geeks and Nerds

The Geek; studious, learned, socially inept, interesting dress sense, or is that the list for Nerds?

In literary terms, I think these two groups are usually classed as one.  However there are subtle differences between the two, which I shall go into later.  First, I’d like to discuss their similar traits.

As we all know, Geeks and Nerds are studious to some degree.  Whether it consists of traditional techniques (such as reading or performing experiments), or more modern ways of learning such as the internet (a lot can be learned from google and YouTube), these groups love to take part in these activities.

An interesting dress sense is also a must as well.  Shirts and trousers (pants to my American friends) are perhaps more common among Nerds than Geeks who seem to favour jeans and t-shirts sporting their favourite pastime.

Because of their obsession with their chosen subject, they are likely to be socially inept.  A classic case in point is Professor Don Tillman in ‘The Rosie Project’ (which I hope to review very soon).  Graeme Simsion has even gone as far as giving Don Asperger Syndrome.  Doing this, as well as writing it from Don’s perspective, has added an interesting addition to the equation.

And now we shall move onto the differences.

The definition of a Geek is “someone who is interested in a subject (usually intellectual or complex) for its own sake”.  Whereas the definition of Nerd is “an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a non-social hobby or pursuit”.

On reading those definitions, it seems to me that it is a Nerd who is more likely to have trouble in social situations.  A geek on the other hand, while they love their favourite topic, do not pursue it to such a degree as Nerds. If you could enlighten me on the this I would be willing to hear your argument.

Why do we have them?

Like all characters, Geeks and Nerds have their origins in real life.  The titles, Geek and Nerd, first came to the public consciousness around the same time; the 1970s.*

In recent years, Geeks and Nerds have shaken off their negative connotations.  So much so that we have even had the rise of the Geek.  Again ‘The Rosie Project’ is a perfect example.  I doubt this book would have been published thirty years ago.  If it had, it certainly would not have been as successful.

*By that I mean their current definition.