The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion)
Don Tillman, professor of genetics, is a man who can count his friends on the fingers of one hand, follows a schedule like a ritual, and has never been on a second date — he’s convinced that he isn’t wired for romance. However, he embarks on The Wife Project, a statistical probability quiz to find the right partner.
Absolutely a 10/10 read (apparently, it’s one of Bill Gates favourite book too). It beautifully explores the human condition in a witty and humorous light. The way how Don makes sense of the world through his pragmatic mental models (“Why do people value others’ time so little? Now we would have the inevitable small talk. I could have spent fifteen minutes at home practicing aikido.”) was insightful in a sense that it made me introspect on how I should view life as well.
This was one of the first fiction books I’ve read in a while and it was a nice reminder that I actually do enjoy the genre.
🧩 Top 3 Quotes
- “She began eating her dinner in my apartment on a regular basis, as there are massive economies of scale in cooking one meal for two people rather than two separate meals.”
- “The cause of my confusion was that I was dealing with an equation that contained large negative values, most seriously the disruption to my schedule, and large positive values, the consequential enjoyable experiences.”
- “Do you know how to relax? How to just have fun?” It was too complex a question to answer over the wind noise as we pulled away from the lights. And the pursuit of fun does not lead to overall contentment. Studies have shown this consistently.”
🌳 How the Book Changed Me
- Life changing experiences don’t need to be from going to jail or having a gun to your head, it’s in those tiny moments in life that can make up a story all on its own. In essence, there’s more to life than you know and in order to recognise it, you need to be present and take time to reflect.
- Social norms on human behaviour is arbitrary. Do as you wish, as long as it’s sincere and within bounds. Don sort of has Asperger’s syndrome (an umbrella diagnosis of the autism spectrum disorder) and there’s nothing else that can poignantly capture the latter: “I formed a provisional conclusion that most of these were simply variations in human brain function that had been inappropriately medicalised because they did not fit social norms — constructed social norms — that reflected the most common human configuration rather than the full range.”
📒 Summary + Notes
- ❤️ “Unfortunately, their approach was based on the traditional dating paradigm, which I had previously abandoned on the basis that the probability of success did not justify the effort and negative experiences.” (a great critique on the notion of dating)
- ♉️ “People can tell you the supposed characteristics of a Gemini or a Taurus and will spend five days watching a cricket match but cannot find the interest or the time to learn the basics of what they, as humans, are made up of.”
- 🧾 “A questionnaire! Such an obvious solution. A purpose-built, scientifically valid instrument incorporating current best practice to filter out the time wasters, the disorganized, the ice-cream discriminators, the visual-harassment complainers, the crystal gazers, the horoscope readers, the fashion obsessives, the religious fanatics, the vegans, the sports watchers, the creationists, the smokers, the scientifically illiterate, the homeopaths, leaving, ideally, the perfect partner or, realistically, a manageable short list of candidates.”
- 👯♀️ “Restaurants are minefields for the socially inept, and I was nervous as always in these situations.”
- 🌱 “Rational detachment: is that a euphemism for lack of emotion?”
- 🤖 “Apparently they were more concerned with adherence to social convention than with the progress their children were making.”
- 🧠 “I flinched automatically. Definitely inappropriate contact. If I had done that to a woman, there would almost certainly have been a problem, possibly a sexual harassment complaint to the Dean, which could have consequences for my career. Of course, no one was going to criticize her for it.”
- 😘 “I decided that it would be acceptable to lie in order to maximize her happiness.”
- 💡 “I had not even finished the sentence when a light went on in my head — not literally, of course.” (funny)
- ⏰ “I cannot comprehend why some people are more interested in the outcome of a football match or the weight of an actress.”
- 🤝 “Why do we focus on certain things at the expense of others? We will risk our lives to save a person from drowning, yet not make a donation that could save dozens of children from starvation. We install solar panels when their impact on CO2 emissions is minimal — and indeed may have a net negative effect if manufacturing and installation are taken into account — rather than contributing to more efficient infrastructure projects.”
- 🏡 “Gene’s office is larger than mine, owing to his higher status rather than any actual requirement for space.”
- 🐒 “I turned to see him: he was large and angry. In order to prevent further violence, I was forced to sit on him.”
Thanks for reading :) This publication is a collection of my books on my desk lamp (hence, Desklamp Notes) where I compile it to include the summary, notes and highlights.
Thanks to Ali Abdaal — where I took the format of this article.