Read of the Week: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Our Systems Administrator Ben Spencer brings this week’s Read, Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, a story a little different from his usual reading habits!

“Its easy to make frends if you let pepul laff at you.”

Flowers for Algernon follows the story of Charlie Gordon, a man with an IQ of 68, who works at a bakery performing menial jobs. Charlie’s life is changed forever when he becomes part of an experiment intended to increase intelligence. The surgery is a success and from then on Charlie’s intelligence continues to improve until he reaches an IQ of 185. During this time he gains a better understanding of his life and the world around him but some changes come too quickly for him to handle.

“That’s the thing about human life–there is no control group, no way to ever know how any of us would have turned out if any variables had been changed.”

I first picked up Flowers for Algernon because I wanted to expand my reading and choose something a little bit different to what I normally read (i.e. Spider-man comics and Star Wars novels). But what started off as a book that I could simply tick off my list once I’d read it, I found myself actually thinking more and more about the character and life of Charlie. Imagining myself in his shoes, to go from having little to no understanding of yourself and others, to then have your eyes effectively forced open to your emotions and the meaning behind others’ actions would be a huge leap to say the least.

“I don’t know what’s worse: to not know what you are and be happy, or to become what you’ve always wanted to be, and feel alone.”

Flowers for Algernon covers many different themes surrounding the differences between intelligence and emotion and how others views can unjustly affect a person’s future. If you’re looking for a book that although small in size is big in character then I highly recommend reading Flowers for Algernon (and then some Spider-man comics).

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