Hair is so personal to ourselves, yet in many ways it is also political. Hairstyles can signal status—gender, affluence, class, or cultures. As Emma Dabiri explores in Don’t Touch My Hair, this is particularly true for Black women. This book goes far deeper than I expected given its length; Dabiri fuses her personal experience growing up Black in Ireland and the United States with meticulous research. The latter takes us from enslaved people in…


This is one of the oldest (perhaps the oldest?) physical books I own and have yet to read. Goodreads suggests I’ve had it for nearly a decade. Oops. The truth is, I was never excited to read this. I love reading math books! But I am not particularly enamoured of books that explore one or two “special numbers,” and phi is perhaps my least favourite special number. The blurb from Dan Brown on the…

The origins of our numbers, of our decimal place value system, of our numerals, is certainly an interesting topic! After all, we take for granted that we write numbers the way we do today—most of us learned Roman numerals as kids and quickly realize they are clunky and formidable as we try to write the year we were born (although anyone born after 2000 has a much easier time of it now!). But Amir Aczel…

At first I admit to some scepticism about the idea that we could use mathematics to rethink our conversations around gender. I was apprehensive because science, and even to some extent mathematics (or at least more applied subsets of its, like statistics) have been misused and abused in service of gender stereotype fallacies. Indeed, Eugenia Cheng points this out herself, and this, along with her careful and patient exposition of her topic, eventually won me…

The Math(s) Fix wants you to believe that computers are coming for your math.
Scary, isn’t it? You should find it scary. Computers are way better at calculating than we are, yet we insist that “real math” means learning how to do long division by hand!
Wolfram Media kindly provided me an eARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for this review. I was definitely very interested in this.
Some positionality, because even though…

Algorithms are increasingly an important part of our lives, yet even as more of us become aware of this, how much do we actually stop to consider what that means? How much do we stop to consider who is designing these algorithms and how they actually work? And why are we willing to give up so much control to them in the first place? Hello World is a short tour through the various ways in…

The profile of the term “Big Data” has risen recently. Yet, like so many buzzwords, people often don’t fully grasp the significance of the term. “Big Data” is more than the nebulous connotation of corporations collecting our information, and perhaps packaging and selling it—although it is that. It is, in fact, about how corporations quantify everything we do, even the information we don’t realize we’re leaking out into the world, and then use that data…

As our society becomes evermore datadriven, I am increasingly interested in reading books such as Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception. I want to know how numbers, algorithms, data, and mathematics are being used (or abused) to make decisions, mount arguments, and influence the course of civilization. Sound lofty? Good. Charles Seife’s incisive and interesting writing brings this topic to life. With clear, topical examples, he shows us how misunderstanding or misplaced faith…

Look, this isn’t really a novel.
Huh. Is there an echo in here?
I was thinking it had been several years since I last read a Neal Stephenson novel, but it turns out to be just under a year. I borrowed Cryptonomicon from a friend’s mother, because it’s truly not on that I’m a mathematician by training yet haven’t read the most mathematical Stephenson work. I put off reading it for a few weeks, because…

Who doesn’t like a good controversy in their popular science books? What’s a philosophical theory about the nature of the universe if it doesn’t ruffle some feathers? No one wants to write a book and then have everyone turn around and shrug at you. That doesn’t sell! So it’s not really surprising that Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality is a controversial book by a somewhat controversial physicist. I received…

I first heard about this on Quirks & Quarks from CBC Radio. Then Josie, one of my Canadian friends still teaching in England, was filling me in on how she went to one of Matt Parker’s standup events and how awesome it was. When I informed her I had purchased a signed copy of Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension on the Internets, she was suitably envious. Not, however, as envious as…

I’m disappointed that so many people seem underwhelmed by the autobiographical parts of this book and feel that they are ancillary to Frenkel’s purpose. I disagree: they are, in fact, the heart and soul of Love & Math. Without them, this would be a fairly intense treatise on deep connections between abstract algebra, algebraic geometry, and quantum physics. With them, Frenkel demonstrates how the study of mathematics and a devotion to thought for thought’s…

Really, it’s my fault that mathematics gets such a bad rap.
And by me, I mean math teachers in general. And by math teachers, I actually mean the pedagogical paradigm in which most of us are embedded, and the questionable premises of the educational system that encourages such pedagogy. Math anxiety is often caused by general test anxiety, combined with a lingering sensation that there is “one right answer,” as well as a…

I math for a living. I mathed, both amateurly and professionally, at school. I math quite a bit. And as a math teacher, I like reading "pop math" books that try to do for math what many science writers have done for science. So picking up How Not to Be Wrong was a nobrainer when I saw it on that bookstore shelf. I’ve read and enjoyed some of Jordan Ellenberg’s columns on Slate and elsewhere…

To paraphrase Mr T, I pity the fool who doesn’t see the beauty of mathematics inherent in the world around us. As a teacher, I feel rather complicit at times in robbing children of the joy of mathematics. The systemic, industrial tone of education does not often lend itself well to the investigation and discovery that should be the cornerstone of maths; I find this particularly true in the UK, where standardized tests and levels…

I came across this book while browsing the science section in Waterstones, because that’s where they hide all the good mathematics books as well, and I was looking for an appropriate math book to give to a fellow math friend for her birthday. (I opted for Ian Stewart’s Hoard of Mathematical Treasures.) Having read Dava Sobel’s explication of John Harrison and the marine chronometer in Longitude, I snapped this up without a second…

I can’t resist picking up mathy books when I’m in a bookstore. As a mathematician, I love broadening my knowledge about the field—and seeing what passes for “popular mathematics” these days. Thinking in Numbers is a slim volume that promises to “change the way you think about maths and fire your imagination to see the world with fresh eyes”. It didn’t do that for me—but maybe that’s because I already think about maths that way.…

I read math books for fun. I realize that, right away, this puts me in an unusual portion of the population. It’s not just my fancy math degree that makes these books attractive. However, I do think that there are some math books written for people interested in math (whether professionally or amateurly), and then there are math books written for people who, usually thanks to a bad experience in school, have sworn off math…

Part of my goal as a teacher is to expose my students to the wider world of mathematics, to impress upon them that math is more than just skills and concepts they learn out of a textbook in the fulfilment of curriculum expectations. I want to make the usefulness and purpose of all that math explicit—and I want to go even further and show that math can be beautiful. Finally, it’s important to provide a…

Do you ever feel like you have let down a book, not the other way around? That if you had been smarter, funnier, prettier, then the book wouldn’t have broken up with you by text message and started dating your friend, who really isn’t all that much prettier than you and has terrible taste in clothing and music and restaurants anyway? No? Just me? OK. I kind of feel that way about Napier’s Bones.
…
Showing 1 to 20 of 27 results