100 books like Four Colors Suffice

By Robin J. Wilson,

Here are 100 books that Four Colors Suffice fans have personally recommended if you like Four Colors Suffice. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

Dan Moller Author Of The Way of Bach: Three Years with the Man, the Music, and the Piano

From my list on Bach, music, and the piano.

Who am I?

I’m a professor of philosophy at the University of Maryland interested in politics, ethics, and art. Philosophers are often unpopular loners who are passionate about their ideas, and so are musicians like Bach. When I teach Socrates and the trial that led to his death I can’t help but think of Bach, who was rejected from job after job in favor of mediocrities, and whose music was considered offensive by parishioners and obsolete by musicians by the end of his life. These figures endear themselves to me not just because of the ideas themselves, but because they had to fight so hard for what they believed in.

Dan's book list on Bach, music, and the piano

Dan Moller Why did Dan love this book?

This book picks up where Evening in the Palace of Reason leaves off, with Bach composing the Musical Offering on a horrible theme from King Frederick.

It explains canons and fugues, and thus helps you understand Bach’s work better, but it then goes on a safari through the intellectual landscape of ideas related to fugues–strange loops, self-similarity, recursion, and of course the guys in the title. It’s not for everyone, but if you like any two of logic, philosophy, or music, give this a try.

By Douglas R. Hofstadter,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Gödel, Escher, Bach as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Douglas Hofstadter's book is concerned directly with the nature of maps" or links between formal systems. However, according to Hofstadter, the formal system that underlies all mental activity transcends the system that supports it. If life can grow out of the formal chemical substrate of the cell, if consciousness can emerge out of a formal system of firing neurons, then so too will computers attain human intelligence. Goedel, Escher, Bach is a wonderful exploration of fascinating ideas at the heart of cognitive science: meaning, reduction, recursion, and much more.


Book cover of Descartes' Dream: The World According to Mathematics (Dover Books on Mathematics)

Ian Stewart Author Of Flatterland: Like Flatland Only More So

From my list on to find out why math isn’t what you think.

Who am I?

As a kid I read every popular math book I could lay my hands on. When I became a mathematician I wanted to do more than teaching and research. I wanted to tell everyone what a wonderful and vital subject math is. I started writing popular math books, and soon was up to my neck in radio, TV, news media, magazines... For 12 years I wrote the mathematical Recreations Column for Scientific American. I was only the second mathematician in 170 years to deliver the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, on TV with a live tiger. The University changed my job description: half research, half ‘outreach’. I had my dream job.

Ian's book list on to find out why math isn’t what you think

Ian Stewart Why did Ian love this book?

Mathematicians are constantly baffled by the public’s lack of awareness, not just of what mathematics does, but what it is. Today’s technological society functions only because of a vast range of mathematical concepts, techniques, and discoveries, which go far beyond elementary arithmetic and algebra. This was one of the first books to tackle these misunderstandings head on. It does so by examining not just the math and what it’s used for, but the social structures, the ‘conditions of civilization’ that have brought us to this curious state: utterly dependent on math, almost universally unaware that we are. 

By Philip J. Davis, Reuben Hersh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Descartes' Dream as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A passionate plea against the use of formal mathematical reasoning as a method for solving mankind's problems. . . . An antidote to the Cartesian view that mathematical and scientific knowledge will suffice to solve the central problems of human existence." — The New York Times
"These cogitations can and should be read by every literate person." — Science Books and Films
"A warning against being seduced or intimidated by mathematics into accepting bad science, bad policies, and bad personal decisions." — Philadelphia Inquirer
Rationalist philosopher and mathematician René Descartes visualized a world unified by mathematics, in which all intellectual…


Book cover of Riddles in Mathematics: A Book of Paradoxes

Ian Stewart Author Of Flatterland: Like Flatland Only More So

From my list on to find out why math isn’t what you think.

Who am I?

As a kid I read every popular math book I could lay my hands on. When I became a mathematician I wanted to do more than teaching and research. I wanted to tell everyone what a wonderful and vital subject math is. I started writing popular math books, and soon was up to my neck in radio, TV, news media, magazines... For 12 years I wrote the mathematical Recreations Column for Scientific American. I was only the second mathematician in 170 years to deliver the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, on TV with a live tiger. The University changed my job description: half research, half ‘outreach’. I had my dream job.

Ian's book list on to find out why math isn’t what you think

Ian Stewart Why did Ian love this book?

I was given this book when I was about 15, and devoured it. It is an eclectic collection of mathematical paradoxes, fallacies, and curiosities so strange that they seem impossible. Mathematical magic tricks, a proof that all numbers are equal, a proof that all triangles are isosceles, a curve whose length is infinite but whose area is finite, a curve that crosses itself at every point, a curve that fills the interior of a square. Infinities that are bigger than other infinities. The Saint Petersburg Paradox in probability, a calculation that you should pay the bank an infinite amount of money to play one fair coin-tossing game. The smallest number that cannot be named in fewer than thirteen words (which I’ve just named in twelve words).

By Eugene P. Northrop,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Riddles in Mathematics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two fathers and two sons leave town. This reduces the population of the town by three. True? Yes, if the trio consists of a father, son, and grandson. This entertaining collection consists of more than 200 such riddles, drawn from every branch of mathematics. Math enthusiasts of all ages will enjoy sharpening their wits with riddles rooted in areas from arithmetic to calculus, covering a wide range of subjects that includes geometry, trigonometry, algebra, concepts of the infinite, probability, and logic. But only an elementary knowledge of mathematics is needed to find amusement in this imaginative collection, which features complete…


Book cover of Wonders Beyond Numbers: A Brief History of All Things Mathematical

Ian Stewart Author Of Flatterland: Like Flatland Only More So

From my list on to find out why math isn’t what you think.

Who am I?

As a kid I read every popular math book I could lay my hands on. When I became a mathematician I wanted to do more than teaching and research. I wanted to tell everyone what a wonderful and vital subject math is. I started writing popular math books, and soon was up to my neck in radio, TV, news media, magazines... For 12 years I wrote the mathematical Recreations Column for Scientific American. I was only the second mathematician in 170 years to deliver the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, on TV with a live tiger. The University changed my job description: half research, half ‘outreach’. I had my dream job.

Ian's book list on to find out why math isn’t what you think

Ian Stewart Why did Ian love this book?

One of the friendliest routes into mathematics, for many people, is its history. In math, unlike many sciences, ideas last indefinitely. Pythagoras’s Theorem is about 4,000 years old, understood in ancient Babylon a thousand years before Pythagoras was born. It was true then, and it is still true today. The history of math tells of the construction of a towering edifice, with each new level built on top of the previous ones. There are many histories of mathematics, but none quite like this one. The author is a much-loved English TV personality, famous for his enthusiasm for math and his ability to make it entertaining for children of all ages. His book is a rollicking yarn, a wild ride that nonetheless remains true to its subject.

By Johnny Ball,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wonders Beyond Numbers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this book, Johnny Ball tells one of the most important stories in world history - the story of mathematics.

By introducing us to the major characters and leading us through many historical twists and turns, Johnny slowly unravels the tale of how humanity built up a knowledge and understanding of shapes, numbers and patterns from ancient times, a story that leads directly to the technological wonderland we live in today. As Galileo said, 'Everything in the universe is written in the language of mathematics', and Wonders Beyond Numbers is your guide to this language.

Mathematics is only one part…


Book cover of Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension

David Acheson Author Of The Wonder Book of Geometry: A Mathematical Story

From my list on mathematics for the general reader.

Who am I?

I am an applied mathematician at Oxford University, and author of the bestseller 1089 and All That, which has now been translated into 13 languages. In 1992 I discovered a strange mathematical theorem – loosely related to the Indian Rope Trick - which eventually featured on BBC television. My books and public lectures are now aimed at bringing mainstream mathematics to the general public in new and exciting ways.

David's book list on mathematics for the general reader

David Acheson Why did David love this book?

I have always liked the classical geometry of triangles and circles, but Matt Parker's book helped me go way beyond that and broaden my whole outlook. And the attractively hand-drawn diagrams and zany humour just added to the whole experience. After all, how many maths authors do you know who decide to build a computer out of 10,000 dominoes, just to calculate 6 + 4? 

By Matt Parker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stand-up mathematician and star of Festival of the Spoken Nerd, Matt Parker presents Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension -- a riotous journey through the possibilities of numbers, with audience participation

- Cut pizzas in new and fairer ways!
- Fit a 2p coin through an impossibly small hole!
- Make a perfect regular pentagon by knotting a piece of paper!
- Tie your shoes faster than ever before, saving literally seconds of your life!
- Use those extra seconds to contemplate the diminishing returns of an exclamation-point at the end of every bullet-point!
- Make a…


Book cover of The Colossal Book of Mathematics: Classic Puzzles, Paradoxes, and Problems

David S. Richeson Author Of Tales of Impossibility: The 2000-Year Quest to Solve the Mathematical Problems of Antiquity

From my list on for mathematics enthusiasts.

Who am I?

Although I loved studying mathematics in school, I have since learned that mathematics is so much more than school mathematics. My enthusiasm for all areas of mathematics has led me to conduct original mathematical research, to study the history of mathematics, to analyze puzzles and games, to create mathematical art, crafts, and activities, and to write about mathematics for general audiences. I am fortunate that my job—I am a professor of mathematics and the John J. & Ann Curley Faculty Chair in the Liberal Arts at Dickinson College—allows me the freedom to follow my passions, wherever they take me, and to share that passion with my students and with others. 

David's book list on for mathematics enthusiasts

David S. Richeson Why did David love this book?

They say that Plato was not a mathematician but was a maker of mathematicians. The same could be said of Martin Gardner, a prolific author who wrote, among many other things, the “Mathematical Games” column for Scientific American for a quarter of a century. Although all his books are excellent, The Colossal Book of Mathematics is a great entry point to Gardner’s oeuvre. It consists of what Gardner viewed as his 50 best Scientific American columns along with addenda containing updated material on each topic. With topics like topology, geometry, recreational mathematics, the infinite, and probability, each article is an informative, playful, well-written gem. 

By Martin Gardner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Colossal Book of Mathematics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Whether discussing hexaflexagons or number theory, Klein bottles or the essence of "nothing," Martin Gardner has single-handedly created the field of "recreational mathematics." The Colossal Book of Mathematics collects together Gardner's most popular pieces from his legendary "Mathematical Games" column, which ran in Scientific American for twenty-five years. Gardner's array of absorbing puzzles and mind-twisting paradoxes opens mathematics up to the world at large, inspiring people to see past numbers and formulas and experience the application of mathematical principles to the mysterious world around them. With articles on topics ranging from simple algebra to the twisting surfaces of Mobius strips,…


Book cover of Mathematical Puzzles

Pramod Ganapathi Author Of Mathematical and Algorithmic Puzzles

From my list on mathematical and algorithmic puzzles.

Who am I?

I am a Research Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Stony Brook University learning/teaching/researching mathematics/algorithms/puzzles. In these fields, I have published a book, published 15+ papers in conferences/journals, been granted a US patent, won two Outstanding Paper Awards, taught 10+ courses in 25+ offerings, and have supervised 90+ master's/bachelor students. I am a puzzle addict involved in this field for 25 years and puzzles are my religion/God. Puzzles are the main form of supreme energy in this universe that can consistently give me infinite peace.

Pramod's book list on mathematical and algorithmic puzzles

Pramod Ganapathi Why did Pramod love this book?

Peter Winkler is famous for his collections of counterintuitive puzzles. Thousands of people, including me, have spent many sleepless nights trying to understand the mysteries in these puzzles, for which, I am forever grateful.

Haunting puzzles in the book include hats and infinity, all right or all wrong, comparing numbers version 1/2, wild guess, laser gun, precarious picture, names in boxes, sleeping beauty, and dot-town exodus.

Most puzzle books exclude counterintuitive puzzles for unknown reasons. So, many people incorrectly assume that counterintuitive puzzles are majorly found in paradoxes. Peter Winkler in this book shows that counterintuition can come from either puzzles or solutions or both, and they need not come from paradoxes alone.

Finally, reading Winkler's statements is an absolute delight due to its enjoyable and entertaining nature.

By Peter Winkler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mathematical Puzzles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Research in mathematics is much more than solving puzzles, but most people will agree that solving puzzles is not just fun: it helps focus the mind and increases one's armory of techniques for doing mathematics. Mathematical Puzzles makes this connection explicit by isolating important mathematical methods, then using them to solve puzzles and prove a theorem.

Features

A collection of the world's best mathematical puzzles

Each chapter features a technique for solving mathematical puzzles, examples, and finally a genuine theorem of mathematics that features that technique in its proof

Puzzles that are entertaining, mystifying, paradoxical, and satisfying; they are not…


Book cover of Algorithmic Puzzles

Pramod Ganapathi Author Of Mathematical and Algorithmic Puzzles

From my list on mathematical and algorithmic puzzles.

Who am I?

I am a Research Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Stony Brook University learning/teaching/researching mathematics/algorithms/puzzles. In these fields, I have published a book, published 15+ papers in conferences/journals, been granted a US patent, won two Outstanding Paper Awards, taught 10+ courses in 25+ offerings, and have supervised 90+ master's/bachelor students. I am a puzzle addict involved in this field for 25 years and puzzles are my religion/God. Puzzles are the main form of supreme energy in this universe that can consistently give me infinite peace.

Pramod's book list on mathematical and algorithmic puzzles

Pramod Ganapathi Why did Pramod love this book?

Anany Levitin introduced me to algorithmics – my second love (my first love is mathematics), through his legendary algorithmics textbook. He was one of my superheroes in my young adult life and he got me addicted to algorithms. His book is my favorite because it is beautifully organized based on design techniques, well-written, and uses nice puzzles to teach algorithms.

Levitin went much deeper and wrote this book on algorithmic puzzles. This book is the first mainstream book in the puzzle literature that taught beautiful algorithmic puzzles via various algorithm technique techniques. Levitin claimed several mathematical puzzles as algorithmic focusing on aspects of the solutions that are automatable.

Elegant puzzles (with extensive references) in this book that I have enjoyed include missionaries and cannibals, bridge crossing, circle of lights, MU puzzle, turning on a light bulb, chameleons, poisoned wine, game of life, twelve coins, fifteen puzzle, hats with numbers, and…

By Anany Levitin, Maria Levitin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Algorithmic Puzzles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Algorithmic puzzles are puzzles involving well-defined procedures for solving problems. This book will provide an enjoyable and accessible introduction to algorithmic puzzles that will develop the reader's algorithmic thinking.

The first part of this book is a tutorial on algorithm design strategies and analysis techniques. Algorithm design strategies - exhaustive search, backtracking, divide-and-conquer and a few others - are general approaches to designing step-by-step instructions for solving problems. Analysis techniques are methods for investigating such procedures to answer questions about the ultimate result of the procedure or how many steps are executed before the procedure stops. The discussion is an…


Book cover of Anno's Math Games III

Ben Orlin Author Of Math Games with Bad Drawings: 75 1/4 Simple, Challenging, Go-Anywhere Games--And Why They Matter

From my list on math books with genuinely good drawings.

Who am I?

Explaining math demands great visuals. I should know: I explain math for a living, and I cannot draw. Like, at all. The LA Times art director once compared my cartoons to the work of children and institutionalized patients. (He printed them anyway.) In the nerdier corners of the internet, I’m known as the “Math with Bad Drawings” guy, and as a purveyor of artless art, I’ve developed an eye for the good stuff: striking visuals that bring mathematical concepts to life. Here are five books that blow my stick figures out of the water. (But please buy my book anyway, if for no deeper reason than pity.)

Ben's book list on math books with genuinely good drawings

Ben Orlin Why did Ben love this book?

I stumbled on this in a used bookstore. What a find! The old-school, kid-friendly illustrations lead swiftly from simple beginnings (“What happens when you stretch a painting?”) to the depths of undergraduate topology. I haven’t used this in the classroom yet, but honestly, I could imagine busting it out with anyone from first-graders to first-year PhD candidates.

By Mitsumasa Anno,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Anno's Math Games III as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Picture puzzles, games, and simple activities introduce the mathematical concepts of abstract thinking, circuitry, geometry, and topology


Book cover of Origami, Eleusis, and the Soma Cube: Martin Gardner's Mathematical Diversions

T.W. Körner Author Of The Pleasures of Counting

From my list on mathematical life.

Who am I?

If you want to know what conducting an orchestra is like, you ask a conductor. If you want to know what being a mathematician is like, you ask a mathematician. I have been studying, researching, and teaching mathematics (mainly at Cambridge but also in France and elsewhere) for a lifetime and loved (almost) every moment of it. In the words of Constance Reid, `Mathematicians are people who devote their lives to what seems to me a wonderful kind of play.'

T.W.'s book list on mathematical life

T.W. Körner Why did T.W. love this book?

The Scientific American columns of Martin Gardner ran for 24 years and were read by amateurs, semi-amateurs, professionals, and major mathematicians (Conway, Knuth, Diaconis...). It was the interaction with this audience (recorded in addenda) which gave these essays their special quality and will give the interested outsider a real feel for what interests mathematicians. The collected columns are being reissued by the AMA and CUP but my view that anything by Martin Gardner is worth reading is reflected in my personal library.

By Martin Gardner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Origami, Eleusis, and the Soma Cube as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Martin Gardner continues to delight. He introduces readers to the Generalized Ham Sandwich Theorem, origami, digital roots, magic squares, the mathematics of cooling coffee, the induction game of Eleusis, Dudeney puzzles, the maze at Hampton Court Palace, and many more mathematical puzzles and principles. Origami, Eleusis, and the Soma Cube is the second volume in Martin Gardner's New Mathematical Library, based on his enormously popular Scientific American columns. Now the author, in consultation with experts, has added updates to all the chapters, including new game variations, mathematical proofs, and other developments and discoveries, to challenge and fascinate a new generation…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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