Math Reading List

I’m hungry for some good books about math.

Any recommendations?

A reader last week pointed me toward John Allen Paulos, a prolific math professor at Temple University. I’ve already placed an order for Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences, and Beyond Numeracy, which according to Publishers Weekly is “organized in dictionary format from ‘algebra’ to ‘zeno’ and demonstrates math’s relevancy to everyday life.”

The other Paulos title on my must read list: A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper about how numbers and statistics are often misused in newspapers (I’m shocked!)

I’m also interested in books about the changing economy and why we need more math (or not).

Thomas L. Friedman clearly comes to mind with The World is Flat and The Lexus and The Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization.

Someone recently recommended Daniel Pink's book A Whole New Mind, which argues that “The era of 'left brain' dominance, and the Information Age that it engendered, are giving way to a new world in which 'right brain' qualities-inventiveness, empathy, meaning-predominate."

This is the tip of the iceberg... Send ideas!!

By Michael Alison Chandler  |  October 9, 2008; 10:19 AM ET  | Category:  Math Resources
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I would recommend four books to you.

One is "Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction" by Timothy Gowers, winner of the Fields Prize. As the title says, a very short introduction to what mathematical thinking IS. See review by Greg Mankiw, Economics Professor at Harvard

The second is "Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics" by Liping Ma. A great book that uses specific math problems, and discussions with Chinese and American elementary teachers, to illustrate the subtle complexities in so-called "elementary" mathematics.

"The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan" by Robert Kanigel. Doesn't really explain the math, but a wonderful and strange story of a math genius from India, and his strange and wonderful "discovery" by the famous English mathematician G.H. Hardy.

and finally, Hardy's moving and very sad book about his continued love for mathematics after his age prevented him from still doing mathematics:
"A Mathematician's Apology", by g.H. Hardy

Posted by: bartik | October 14, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

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