10 books like Four Colors Suffice

By Robin J. Wilson,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Four Colors Suffice. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Gödel, Escher, Bach

By Douglas R. Hofstadter,

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

The focus of this book is self-reference and recursion. By explaining what formal systems are and how they can be identified in music and art, Hofstadter illustrates how fundamental concepts of computing appear in unexpected areas of our lives. A focus of this book is on the principal limitations of formal systems and thus of computing. Some parts of the book may be hard to digest due to the significant use of formal symbol manipulation, and with 777 pages it is not a quick read. The effort is, however, rewarded with deep insights into Gödel's incompleteness theorem and its implication for computing. This is a brilliant book, a true classic, which contains much food for thought.

Gödel, Escher, Bach

By Douglas R. Hofstadter,

Why should I read it?

8 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.


Descartes' Dream

By Philip J. Davis, Reuben Hersh,

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

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. 

Descartes' Dream

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…


Riddles in Mathematics

By Eugene P. Northrop,

Book cover of Riddles in Mathematics: A Book of Paradoxes

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).

Riddles in Mathematics

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…


Wonders Beyond Numbers

By Johnny Ball,

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

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.

Wonders Beyond Numbers

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…


The Colossal Book of Mathematics

By Martin Gardner,

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

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. 

The Colossal Book of Mathematics

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,…


Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension

By Matt Parker,

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

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? 

Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension

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…


Anno's Math Games III

By Mitsumasa Anno,

Book cover of Anno's Math Games III

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.

Anno's Math Games III

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


Origami, Eleusis, and the Soma Cube

By Martin Gardner,

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

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.

Origami, Eleusis, and the Soma Cube

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…


Mathematical Puzzles

By Peter Winkler,

Book cover of Mathematical Puzzles: A Connoisseur's Collection

Peter Winkler is an outstanding theoretical computer scientist, which is another way of saying that he is a mathematician who loves combinatorics and logic. He brings the precision and clarity of a mathematician to both the presentation and the solutions of his puzzles. The book consists of great puzzles from the centuries. Professor Winkler has excellent taste.

Mathematical Puzzles

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?

Collected over several years by Peter Winkler, of Bell Labs, dozens of elegant, intriguing challenges are presented in Mathematical Puzzles. The answers are easy to explain, but without this book, devilishly hard to find. Creative reasoning is the key to these puzzles. No involved computation or higher mathematics is necessary, but your ability to construct a mathematical proof will be severly tested--even if you are a professional mathematician. For the truly adventurous, there is even a chapter on unsolved puzzles.


Much Ado about Baseball

By Rajani LaRocca,

Book cover of Much Ado about Baseball

How can baseball, math, salty snacks, and Shakespeare fit together in one book? I’m not entirely sure, but somehow, Rajani LaRocca has combined these seemingly disparate elements to create Much Ado About Baseball, a delightful retelling of Much Ado About Nothing. This magical summer adventure features two equally lovable main characters, Trish and Ben, math rivals turned baseball teammates who come together to solve a problem. I love that there’s a female pitcher on a team of mostly boys, and I love all the connections LaRocca makes between baseball and math. Whether kids are baseball fans, math whizzes, or neither of these things, they’re sure to enjoy this charming novel, which also features an extremely sweet dog.

Much Ado about Baseball

By Rajani LaRocca,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Much Ado about Baseball as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Much Ado About Baseball is the best children's book I've read in the past 10 years!" -Brad Thor, New York Times bestselling author of the Scot Harvath series

"A moving tale of baseball, magic, and former rivals who come together to solve a problem." -Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

In this companion novel to Midsummer's Mayhem, math and baseball combine with savory snacks to cause confusion and calamity in the town of Comity by Newbery-Honor winner Rajani LaRocca.

Twelve-year-old Trish can solve tough math problems and throw a mean fastball. But because of her mom's new job, she's now facing a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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