What I’ve Been Reading – Math with Bad Drawings


For a couple of years, in the antediluvian date of 2019ish, I did yearly posts of “books I enjoy.”

Then I stopped.

Not that I stopped liking books. I simply stopped publishing about them. (I think I got too hectic composing them.)

2022.1.15 pop science books 1

Anyway, over at Shepherd.com I shared my 3 “preferred” books of the existing year. For what it’s worth, I share my four-year-old’s non-exclusive concept of “preferred”. (” Blue is my preferred color. And yellow. I believe rainbow is my preferred color.”)

So do not put excessive stock in the rankings, simply in the books.

shepherd favorites

I’ve likewise been rushing off periodic evaluations at Goodreads. I decrease to offer luxury rankings (in demonstration of the suspicious concept that “book quality” can be measured), however however I feed my prose into Amazon’s artificial intelligence algorithms. Ah well.

new math

One book I heartily advise for mathematics teachers is Christopher J.Phillips’s New Math: A Political History (Disclaimer: I got this book as payment for some work I provided for University of Chicago Press; I enjoy making money in books.) From my review:

What’s interesting here is that, for both challengers and advocates, the New Math was not about test ratings, accomplishment spaces, computation capabilities, or other more familiar issues. It had to do with the nature of mathematical idea, and what sort of thinking was required for a democratic society. If both the reformers and the anti-reformers had it all incorrect,

But I can’t assist questioning. Perhaps mathematics education does not require to be about the intellectual practices of a complimentary society. Perhaps mathematics education need to simply have to do with mathematics. Those stakes appear high enough!The Education of T.C. Mits. I likewise advise Lillian Lieber’s midcentury pop mathematics classic

tc mits

(The name means “The Celebrated Man in the Street.”)I found (1) antiquated, and (2) refreshing Lieber brims with a 20th-century optimism about mathematics as a design of democracy, an optimism that


The book came out in 1942, with a coat blurb from Albert Einstein. A couple of years later on, science like Einstein’s would birth the atom bomb: a best example of the research study procedure Lieber explains, and a magnificent difficulty to her positive analysis of it. My own sensation (a negative, 21st-century sensation, I fear) is that mathematics and science are

amoral. There is no intrinsic goodness in the research study procedure, no factor to believe that science leaves all the risks of human organizations.

And it is specifically for this factor that we require Lieber and those like her. Another enjoyable midcentury mathematics popularization is The Man Who Counted

, by Malba Tahan. I can’t reject a charge of Orientalism (” Tahan” is the Muslim pen-name of a non-Muslim Brazilian author) however the prose is wonderful and a few of the issues are simply magnificent.

I have not composed an evaluation however I took down great deals of quotes like this one:

If you do not understand how to determine precisely, your visions deserve absolutely nothing.

Which is instantly stabilized by:

If you get to them through computation alone, I disbelieve them.

  • Further afield, I likewise took pleasure in: A Decent Life Todd May’s
  • (in which a theorist efforts, unsuccessfully however nobly, to picture a morality that covers our bases without asking excessive people)Citrus: A History Pierre Lazlo’s
  • (a chemist’s scattered yet thick history, from which I was pleased to squeeze some delicious truths and dishes)The Gift Lewis Hyde’s

(a tough however mind-blowing vision of something beyond the “product” frame of mind)

du sautoy blurb

I should likewise discuss Marcus du Sautoy’s brand-new book of mathematical video games, if just since the online marketers chose to actually keep up my blurb:

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November 7, 2023(*)


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