I realised the other day just how many maths books are on my shelf waiting to be read. They all look so good! Having taken one more out of the library today, I thought I’d make a list of them here so much you can see what I’m going to be reading over Christmas and add your own suggestions in the comments section at the bottom if you so desire 🙂 As such, these are by no means book recommendations, as I haven’t actually finished any of the books listed below, but instead a flavour of what I hope is to come in the next year in terms of article topics and book reviews. Maybe you might like to join me in reading some of them!
First up is The Music of the Primes by Marcus du Sautoy. This has been on my shelf for almost a year now and I’m only halfway through, but it’s so dense with mathematics and history that every minute spent reading it is worth it.
Then we have Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh. I was lucky enough to see Singh in person at a Radio 4 recording of The Infinite Monkey Cage, but I think his enthusiasm comes across much more strongly on paper. I’m actually finding this book runs in parallel with much of Music of the Primes, as we come across many of the same mathematicians and concepts in both. This was a little confusing at first, when I’d pick up one book having been focusing on the other to find a bizarre sense of déjà vu, but after a while it’s become welcoming to find the same familiar names popping up. It’s a bit like reading two different novels from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series (if you haven’t read anything by Terry Pratchett yet, it is strongly advised that you do so, his writing is brilliantly witty); although the stories may be different, they take place in the same landscape. Singh’s writing is generally less detailed than Sautoy’s, so Fermat’s Last Theorem will be my book of choice for when my eyes are desperately trying to close but I just want to read one… last… word…
Then we get to GODEL, ESCHER, BACH; an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter. This is a mammoth book that’s going to need a whole series of marathon reading sessions to read. From what I’ve read so far, its structure is based upon a specific collection of pieces of music by Bach, so my plan is to find said pieces of music and listen to them while reading it, for a fully rounded experience 🙂
Moving into the realms of physics a little, I’m part way through Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Whereas Music of the Primes was dense the history behind the mathematics, A Brief History of Time is packed full of concepts which demand your full attention if they are to be fully appreciated, so I’m saving this for a quiet afernoon; maybe Boxing Day?
I took Mathematical Puzzling out of the library thinking it was by the legendary Martin Gardner, only to find that I’d misread the cover and it was by a Dr A Gardiner. Maybe this will turn out to be a happy accident leading me the discovery of one of the best titles on this list?
And finally, I have one of Martin Gardner’s puzzle books to ponder over: The Colossal Book of Mathematics. I’ve read maybe about a third of the chapters in this book and it’s awesome, luckily for me it’s really big so I shouldn’t finish it any time soon!
So that’s my reading sorted for this holiday, though I doubt I’ll really get through it all if I’m to appreciate it fully, it’s worth a try! What are you going to read over the Christmas break?