The poll for the first book is now open and you can vote at the bottom of this post. Please vote using this poll rather than tweeting. Vote closes 6pm GMT Sunday 3rd November.
To help you choose here is some blurb for each nomination.
Twelve-year-old Robert hates his maths teacher. He sets his class boring problems and won’t let them use their calculators. Then in his dreams Robert meets the Number Devil who brings the subject magically to life. The Number Devil knows how to make maths devilishly simple.
A brilliant research mathematician who has devoted his career to teaching kids reveals math to be creative and beautiful and rejects standard anxiety-producing teaching methods. Witty and accessible, Paul Lockhart’s controversial approach will provoke spirited debate among educators and parents alike and it will alter the way we think about math forever.
A Mathematician’s Apology is the famous essay by British mathematician G. H. Hardy. It concerns the aesthetics of mathematics with some personal content, and gives the layman an insight into the mind of a working mathematician. Indeed, this book is often considered one of the best insights into the mind of a working mathematician written for the layman
Fascinating questions are answered in this entertaining and highly informative book, which is ideal for anyone wanting to remind themselves – or discover for the first time – that maths is relevant to almost everything we do.
‘I have a truly marvellous demonstration of this proposition which this margin is too narrow to contain.’
It was with these words, written in the 1630s, that Pierre de Fermat intrigued and infuriated the mathematics community. For over 350 years, proving Fermat’s Last Theorem was the most notorious unsolved mathematical problem, a puzzle whose basics most children could grasp but whose solution eluded the greatest minds in the world. In 1993, after years of secret toil, Englishman Andrew Wiles announced to an astounded audience that he had cracked Fermat’s Last Theorem. He had no idea of the nightmare that lay ahead.
In ‘Fermat’s Last Theorem’ Simon Singh has crafted a remarkable tale of intellectual endeavour spanning three centuries, and a moving testament to the obsession, sacrifice and extraordinary determination of Andrew Wiles: one man against all the odds.
‘Strogatz’s graceful prose is perfectly pitched for a popular maths book: authoritative without being patronising, friendly without being whimsical, and always clear and accessible. His x marks the spot – and hits it.’ Alex Bellos, author of Alex’s Adventures in Numberland
Maths is everywhere, often where we least expect it. Award-winning professor Steven Strogatz acts as our guide as he takes us on a tour of numbers that – unbeknownst to the most of us – form a fascinating and integral part of our everyday lives. In The Joy of X, Strogatz explains the great ideas of maths – from negative numbers to calculus, fat tails to infinity – and shows how they connect to everything from popular culture and philosophy to current affairs and business practice. He is the maths teacher you never had and this book is perfect for the smart and curious, the expert and the beginner.
The biography of a mathematical genius. Paul Erdos was the most prolific pure mathematician in history and, arguably, the strangest too.
For six decades Erdos had no job, no hobbies, no wife, no home; he never learnt to cook, do laundry, drive a car and died a virgin. Instead he travelled the world with his mother in tow, arriving at the doorstep of esteemed mathematicians declaring ‘My brain is open’. He travelled until his death at 83, racing across four continents to prove as many theorems as possible, fuelled by a diet of espresso and amphetamines. With more than 1,500 papers written or co-written, a daily routine of 19 hours of mathematics a day, seven days a week, Paul Erdos was one of the most extraordinary thinkers of our times.
What if you had to take an art class in which you were only taught how to paint a fence? What if you were never shown the paintings of van Gogh and Picasso, weren’t even told they existed? Alas, this is how math is taught, and so for most of us it becomes the intellectual equivalent of watching paint dry.
In Love and Math, renowned mathematician Edward Frenkel reveals a side of math we’ve never seen, suffused with all the beauty and elegance of a work of art. In this heartfelt and passionate book, Frenkel shows that mathematics, far from occupying a specialist niche, goes to the heart of all matter, uniting us across cultures, time, and space.
The ancient Greeks discovered them, but it wasn’t until the nineteenth century that irrational numbers were properly understood and rigorously defined, and even today not all their mysteries have been revealed. In The Irrationals, the first popular and comprehensive book on the subject, Julian Havil tells the story of irrational numbers and the mathematicians who have tackled their challenges, from antiquity to the twenty-first century. Along the way, he explains why irrational numbers are surprisingly difficult to define–and why so many questions still surround them.
Using specific episodes as jumping off points – from ‘Bart the Genius’ to ‘Treehouse of Horror VI’ – Simon Singh brings to life the most intriguing and meaningful mathematical concepts, ranging from pi and the paradox of infinity to the origins of numbers and the most profound outstanding problems that haunt today’s generation of mathematicians. In the process, he introduces us to The Simpsons’ brilliant writing team – the likes of Ken Keeler, Al Jean, Jeff Westbrook, and Stewart Burns – who are not only comedy geniuses, but who also hold advanced degrees in mathematics. This eye-opening book will give anyone who reads it an entirely new mathematical insight into the most successful show in television history
This is the book that Daniel Tammet, bestselling author and mathematical savant, was born to write. In Tammet’s world, numbers are beautiful and mathematics illuminates our lives and minds. Using anecdotes and everyday examples, Tammet allows us to share his unique insights and delight in the way numbers, fractions and equations underpin all our lives.
Inspired by the complexity of snowflakes, Anne Boleyn’s sixth finger or his mother’s unpredictable behaviour, Tammet explores questions such as why time seems to speed up as we age, whether there is such a thing as an average person and how we can make sense of those we love.
Thinking in Numbers will change the way you think about maths and fire your imagination to see the world with fresh eyes.