100 books like Love and Math

By Edward Frenkel,

Here are 100 books that Love and Math fans have personally recommended if you like Love and Math. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

Martin Erwig Author Of Once Upon an Algorithm: How Stories Explain Computing

From my list on computer science without coding.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of computer science at Oregon State University. My research focus is on programming languages, but I also work on computer science education and outreach. I grew up in Germany and moved to the United States in 2000. Since computer science is a fairly new and not widely understood discipline, I am interested in explaining its core ideas to the general public. I believe that in order to attract a more diverse set of people to the field we should emphasize that coding is only a small part of computer science.

Martin's book list on computer science without coding

Martin Erwig Why did Martin love this book?

This book is not about computing, but it is relevant in an indirect way. I love this book, since it is written in such an engaging style and illustrates with many examples that math is not a dry subject to be practiced only by mathematicians but helps everyone to solve real-world problems. The book shows how important it is to be precise in describing problems and that applying a little mathematical rigor goes a long way in solving them. Ellenberg describes mathematics as the “extension of common sense by other means.” In a similar way, I view computer science as the extension of problem-solving methods (aka “algorithms”) by other means. 

By Jordan Ellenberg,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked How Not to Be Wrong as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Witty, compelling, and just plain fun to read . . ." -Evelyn Lamb, Scientific American

The Freakonomics of math-a math-world superstar unveils the hidden beauty and logic of the world and puts its power in our hands

The math we learn in school can seem like a dull set of rules, laid down by the ancients and not to be questioned. In How Not to Be Wrong, Jordan Ellenberg shows us how terribly limiting this view is: Math isn't confined to abstract incidents that never occur in real life, but rather touches everything we do-the whole world is shot through…


Book cover of Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth

Kirsten Menger-Anderson Author Of Doctor Olaf Van Schuler's Brain

From my list on love, loss, and logic in 1930s Vienna.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first learned about life in 1930s Vienna from my grandfather’s memoir: Reminiscences of the Vienna Circle and the Mathematical Colloquium. I was fascinated by the time and place and began to read more about the era, which ultimately served as a setting for my forthcoming novel, The Expert of Subtle Revisions.

Kirsten's book list on love, loss, and logic in 1930s Vienna

Kirsten Menger-Anderson Why did Kirsten love this book?

In the mood for a graphic novel starring Bertrand Russell and a supporting cast of famous thinkers like Whitehead, Frege, Gödel, and Wittgenstein? Logicomix is for you!

Flip to Chapter Six, “Incompleteness,” for a peek of Vienna in the 1930s. The logic and philosophy illustrated throughout provide a great context for the work of Vienna’s famous philosophical circle led by Moritz Schlick, whose 1936 murder provides a chilling contrast to the intellectual pursuits of that time.

By Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos Papadimitriou,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Logicomix as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This brilliantly illustrated tale of reason, insanity, love and truth recounts the story of Bertrand Russell's life. Raised by his paternal grandparents, young Russell was never told the whereabouts of his parents. Driven by a desire for knowledge of his own history, he attempted to force the world to yield to his yearnings: for truth, clarity and resolve. As he grew older, and increasingly sophisticated as a philosopher and mathematician, Russell strove to create an objective language with which to describe the world - one free of the biases and slippages of the written word. At the same time, he…


Book cover of Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe

Amir Alexander Author Of Infinitesimal: How a Dangerous Mathematical Theory Shaped the Modern World

From my list on the power and wonder of mathematics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have written four books (so far) about the surprising ways mathematics pervades human culture, religion, and even politics. The five books I recommend here, each in its own way, shows how mathematics is very much a part of our lives, even if we don’t always notice it. Thanks to books like these, you do not have to be a mathematician to appreciate how this seemingly abstract field shapes our very human world.

Amir's book list on the power and wonder of mathematics

Amir Alexander Why did Amir love this book?

That Steven Strogatz, Cornell Professor and longtime New York Times columnist, is unsurpassed as an expositor of mathematics, goes without saying. No one can make the abstract and technical appear simple and intuitive like Strogatz. In Infinite Powers he takes on the Calculus -- the central pillar of modern mathematics that is also the bane of many a high-school student. It is an immensely powerful field, and at its core is a concept that is both counter-intuitive and paradoxical: the infinite.

The roots of the calculus, we learn, go back to the ancient Greeks, whose notions of the infinite were put to powerful mathematical use by Archimedes. Strogatz continues with Galielo’s dynamics and Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, before reaching the turning point: The discovery of the Calculus by Newton and Leibniz. This leads straight to a discussion of differential equations, which are responsible for so much of what makes…

By Steven Strogatz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From preeminent math personality and author of The Joy of x, a brilliant and endlessly appealing explanation of calculus—how it works and why it makes our lives immeasurably better. 
 
Without calculus, we wouldn’t have cell phones, TV, GPS, or ultrasound. We wouldn’t have unraveled DNA or discovered Neptune or figured out how to put 5,000 songs in your pocket.

Though many of us were scared away from this essential, engrossing subject in high school and college, Steven Strogatz’s brilliantly creative, down-to-earth history shows that calculus is not about complexity; it’s about simplicity. It harnesses an unreal number—infinity—to tackle real-world problems,…


Book cover of The Art of Logic in an Illogical World

Richard Hoshino Author Of The Math Olympian

From my list on mathematics and life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have devoted my entire career to mathematics, and have a life filled with meaning and purpose through my roles as an educator, researcher, and consultant. I teach at the Vancouver campus of Northeastern University and am the owner and principal of Hoshino Math Services, a boutique math consulting firm. 

Richard's book list on mathematics and life

Richard Hoshino Why did Richard love this book?

The author explains the importance of abstraction in logic, demonstrating its three main components: paths made of long chains of logic, packages made of a collection of concepts structured into a new compound unit, and pivots to build bridges to previously disconnected places.

Eugenia Cheng does an excellent job of abstracting principles of logic to better understand challenging real-world societal issues such as affirmative action and cancer screening. I found it quite compelling to understand how and why she came to her positions on various issues, through her axiom that "avoiding false negatives is more important than avoiding false positives." I appreciated the expertise by which she weaved numerous hard topics, in both mathematics and social justice, into a coherent and compelling narrative.

By Eugenia Cheng,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Art of Logic in an Illogical World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How both logical and emotional reasoning can help us live better in our post-truth world

In a world where fake news stories change election outcomes, has rationality become futile? In The Art of Logic in an Illogical World, Eugenia Cheng throws a lifeline to readers drowning in the illogic of contemporary life. Cheng is a mathematician, so she knows how to make an airtight argument. But even for her, logic sometimes falls prey to emotion, which is why she still fears flying and eats more cookies than she should. If a mathematician can't be logical, what are we to do?…


Book cover of Fermat's Last Theorem

Mark Ronan Author Of Symmetry and the Monster: One of the Greatest Quests of Mathematics

From my list on books that make maths interesting.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a full professor of mathematics for over 30 years, I have been engaged in research and teaching. Research can be difficult to describe to non-experts, but some important advances in mathematics can be explained to an interested public without the need for specialist knowledge, as I have done. 

Mark's book list on books that make maths interesting

Mark Ronan Why did Mark love this book?

It provides an engaging description of the work that went into proving a famous result, first mentioned by the French mathematician Pierre de Fermat in the margin of a book.

The question was whether a sum of two nth powers of whole numbers could be the nth power of a whole number. It is certainly true for n = 2 but was not known for any n greater than 2. Fermat thought he had a proof that this was the case but later wrote proofs when n was 3 or 4, so his earlier claim was not taken seriously.

The general result turned out to be much harder than anyone imagined, and 350 years later, its truth was implied by another conjecture that was finally proved by Andrew Wiles, as this book explains. I admire the fact that the author distills some essential points from what turned out to be…

By Simon Singh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fermat's Last Theorem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I have a truly marvellous demonstration of this proposition which this margin is too narrow to contain.'

It was with these words, written in the 1630s, that Pierre de Fermat intrigued and infuriated the mathematics community. For over 350 years, proving Fermat's Last Theorem was the most notorious unsolved mathematical problem, a puzzle whose basics most children could grasp but whose solution eluded the greatest minds in the world. In 1993, after years of secret toil, Englishman Andrew Wiles announced to an astounded audience that he had cracked Fermat's Last Theorem. He had no idea of the nightmare that lay…


Book cover of Fantasia Mathematica

Mark Ronan Author Of Symmetry and the Monster: One of the Greatest Quests of Mathematics

From my list on books that make maths interesting.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a full professor of mathematics for over 30 years, I have been engaged in research and teaching. Research can be difficult to describe to non-experts, but some important advances in mathematics can be explained to an interested public without the need for specialist knowledge, as I have done. 

Mark's book list on books that make maths interesting

Mark Ronan Why did Mark love this book?

This unique book presents stories about mathematics, such as The Young Archimedes by Aldous Huxley and Peter Learns Arithmetic by H. G. Wells. It and its sequel are a mine of fascinating short stories.

It's well worth keeping and rereading. I found both it and its sequel fun to read.

By Clifton Fadiman (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Clifton Fadiman's classic collection of mathematical stories, essays and anecdotes is now once again available. Ranging from the poignant to the comical via the simply surreal, these selections include writing by Aldous Huxley, Martin Gardner, H.G. Wells, George Gamow, G.H. Hardy, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and many others. Humorous, mysterious, and always entertaining, this collection is sure to bring a smile to the faces of mathematicians and non-mathematicians alike.


Book cover of The History of Mathematics: A Reader

Mark Ronan Author Of Symmetry and the Monster: One of the Greatest Quests of Mathematics

From my list on books that make maths interesting.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a full professor of mathematics for over 30 years, I have been engaged in research and teaching. Research can be difficult to describe to non-experts, but some important advances in mathematics can be explained to an interested public without the need for specialist knowledge, as I have done. 

Mark's book list on books that make maths interesting

Mark Ronan Why did Mark love this book?

This book presents excerpts from original contributions to mathematics by scholars of the past. It includes principal developments from Neolithic times, from Mesopotamia, and from the ancient Greeks, right up to the modern world.

The extensive and well-chosen quotations make this a unique book. I found the excerpts from original sources rendered it a mine of valuable information for me or anyone else interested in the long history of mathematics.

By John Fauvel (editor), Jeremy Gray (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1922 Barnes Wallis, who later invented the bouncing bomb immortalized in the movie The Dam Busters, fell in love for the first and last time, aged 35. The object of his affection, Molly Bloxam, was 17 and setting off to study science at University College London. Her father decreed that the two could correspond only if Barnes taught Molly mathematics in his letters.

Mathematics with Love presents, for the first time, the result of this curious dictat: a series of witty, tender and totally accessible introductions to calculus, trigonometry and electrostatic induction that remarkably, wooed and won the girl.…


Book cover of Symmetry

Mark Ronan Author Of Symmetry and the Monster: One of the Greatest Quests of Mathematics

From my list on books that make maths interesting.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a full professor of mathematics for over 30 years, I have been engaged in research and teaching. Research can be difficult to describe to non-experts, but some important advances in mathematics can be explained to an interested public without the need for specialist knowledge, as I have done. 

Mark's book list on books that make maths interesting

Mark Ronan Why did Mark love this book?

Hermann Weyl was one of the most influential mathematicians in the twentieth century. Born in North Germany, he worked for many years in Zürich and later moved to the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton.

He was a colleague of Einstein in both places, and his book on Symmetry is a classic. This slim volume was a stimulus to me when I wrote my book.

By Hermann Weyl,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Symmetry is a classic study of symmetry in mathematics, the sciences, nature, and art from one of the twentieth century's greatest mathematicians. Hermann Weyl explores the concept of symmetry beginning with the idea that it represents a harmony of proportions, and gradually departs to examine its more abstract varieties and manifestations--as bilateral, translatory, rotational, ornamental, and crystallographic. Weyl investigates the general abstract mathematical idea underlying all these special forms, using a wealth of illustrations as support. Symmetry is a work of seminal relevance that explores the great variety of applications and importance of symmetry.


Book cover of Men of Mathematics

Basil Mahon Author Of The Forgotten Genius of Oliver Heaviside: A Maverick of Electrical Science

From my list on science to enjoy and to get you thinking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always had a fascination with science. It came not from school or college, where lessons were sometimes dull, but from books about the discoveries and the people who made them. After careers as a soldier and as a government statistician I felt impelled to spread the word by writing, or at least try. After 40 rejections, my first book – about James Clerk Maxwell – was published and, to my joy, found many readers. My aim in writing is simply to share enjoyment with readers in an equal partnership. And I hope always to leave the reader feeling that he or she really knows the people I am writing about.

Basil's book list on science to enjoy and to get you thinking

Basil Mahon Why did Basil love this book?

First published in 1937, this lovely book is a true classic. In two volumes Bell brings to life 30 or so mathematicians, from Archimedes to Cantor. When first reading the book many years ago I had remembered some of the names from school and college, but only as labels to theorems or equations, and I felt taken into a delightful new realm of knowledge – I could now think of Fermat, Lagrange, Gauss, and Riemann as people. And I began to want to know more about the scientists whose names I had heard in school and college. Bell’s book had sparked a lifelong interest.

By E.T. Bell,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Men of Mathematics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Synopsis coming soon.......


Book cover of Makers of Mathematics

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

From my list on mathematics for the general reader.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

One way of enlivening any presentation of mathematics is by including some history of the subject, but this only really works if there is some serious scholarship behind it. I especially like Hollingdale's book, partly because of the concise writing style, and partly because of the unusually good balance between history and mathematics itself. The calculus, in all its various forms, with some aspects going right back to the Ancient Greeks, is treated especially well.

By Stuart Hollingdale,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fascinating and highly readable, this book recounts the history of mathematics as revealed in the lives and writings of the most distinguished practitioners of the art: Archimedes, Descartes, Fermat, Pascal, Newton, Leibniz, Euler, Gauss, Hamilton, Einstein, and many more. Author Stuart Hollingdale introduces and explains the roles of these gifted and often colorful figures in the development of mathematics as well as the ways in which their work relates to mathematics as a whole.
Although the emphasis in this absorbing survey is primarily biographical, Hollingdale also discusses major historical themes and explains new ideas and techniques. No specialized mathematical knowledge…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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