Flowers for Algernon

By Daniel Keyes

In this book the main characters IQ goes from 68 to 180. Since I've been interested in IQ recently I decided to pick this up for some relaxing nighttime reading.

This was a fun read which I didn't expect much out of and I got exactly that. The books most interesting parts are at the beginning and at the very end. At the beginning of the book Charlie has the slow burn of his IQ going from 68 to 180. The book is presented at the beginning as a series of progress reports where Charlie free associates and writes all his thoughts down. It's interesting to read his changing thoughts and the author does a really good job of having all the changes act like the minute hand on a clock. At the time your reading you don't notice any change but when you look back or think back you can clearly tell that there has been significant movement.

Once Charlie has a 180 IQ however he does classic smart person trope stuff which I don't find even remotely interesting or realistic. With nothing more than a piano in his apartment he goes from just messing around to writing an amazing symphony in about 2 days. He writes a linguistic paper in a few days and sends it off which he claims will set back the current research a few decades. It's all the typical "super smart just means doing what you would do but 1000x faster or 1000x better" stuff as opposed to doing something completely original. Even Charlies big revelation is the thing every book reader will have guessed not 5% into the book.

Can't really fault the author though as he doesn't have a 180 IQ but it's always nice to see some original thinking. It's a short read so crush it for fun but then follow it up with Understand by Ted Chiang for a story about real IQ gains.