100 books like The Three Body Problem

By Catherine Shaw,

Here are 100 books that The Three Body Problem fans have personally recommended if you like The Three Body Problem. 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 Arcadia

Sarah Hart Author Of Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature

From my list on mathematician characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a mathematician and incurable book-lover. It’s been one of the joys of my life to explore the links between mathematics and literature. The stories we tell ourselves about mathematics and mathematicians are fascinating, and especially the ways in which mathematicians are portrayed in fiction. I’m the first female Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, London, a role created in 1597. I don’t fit the mathematician stereotype of the dishevelled old man, obsessed only with numbers (well, perhaps I am slightly dishevelled), so I particularly relish books featuring mathematicians who bring more to the party than this. I hope you’ll enjoy my recommended books as much as I did!  

Sarah's book list on mathematician characters

Sarah Hart Why did Sarah love this book?

This play is a total delight. Read it, of course, and then if it ever comes to a theatre anywhere near you, go see it!

It’s set in 1809 and the present-ish day, and features exuberant mathematical prodigy Thomasina Coverly, who definitely isn’t meant to be Ada Lovelace, says Tom Stoppard (but maybe she is a bit).

The dialogue is like the most invigorating dinner party conversation you ever had: it’s funny, it’s clever, it references fractals, Fermat’s Last Theorem, the silly competitiveness of academia, Lord Byron, landscape gardening, and a million other things. I love it. 

By Tom Stoppard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a large country house in Derbyshire in April 1809 sits Lady Thomasina Coverly, aged thirteen, and her tutor, Septimus Hodge. Through the window may be seen some of the '500 acres inclusive of lake' where Capability Brown's idealized landscape is about to give way to the 'picturesque' Gothic style: 'everything but vampires', as the garden historian Hannah Jarvis remarks to Bernard Nightingale when they stand in the same room 180 years later.

Bernard has arrived to uncover the scandal which is said to have taken place when Lord Byron stayed at Sidley Park.

Tom Stoppard's absorbing play takes us…


Book cover of The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in Clues

Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez Author Of Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Courtroom

From my list on mathematical mysteries.

Why are we passionate about this?

We are a mother and daughter team of mathematicians (respectively a researcher in mathematics and a math graduate who runs an educational company) and detective novel lovers (with Agatha Christie a firm favorite). We’re also both very passionate about the importance of a good foundational mathematics education for everyone.

Leila's book list on mathematical mysteries

Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez Why did Leila love this book?

Thomasina’s musings in Arcadia lead us naturally to Nova Jacobs’ entertaining mystery: the titular equation is closely linked to Thomasina’s ‘theory of everything’ (in fact, a quote from Arcadia opens one of Jacobs’ chapters). When Isaac suddenly dies of an apparent suicide, his adoptive granddaughter Hazel is left to follow his enigmatic clues to discover where Isaac has hidden the equation he spent the last years of his life working on, what exactly it calculates, and who else is after it. 

The best thing about this book is the Severy family, a bunch of mathematicians and theoretical physicists living in a hilariously drawn world of academic pettiness, demanding PhD students, dry periods that seem like they might never end, judgmental relatives, and disappointingly un-academic offspring. Sounds just like our family!

By Nova Jacobs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Equation of Isaac Severy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*Wall Street Journal’s “Mysteries: Best of 2018”
*Book of the Month Club Selection
*Edgar Award Nominee: Best First Novel by an American Author

A “hugely entertaining” (Wall Street Journal) mystery starring “a Royal Tenenbaums-esque clan of geniuses” (Martha Stewart Living)—perfect for fans of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

In this “riveting…brilliant” (Booklist) debut, Hazel Severy, the owner of a struggling Seattle bookstore, receives a letter from her adoptive grandfather—mathematician Isaac Severy—days after he dies in a suspected suicide. In his puzzling letter, Isaac alludes to a secretive organization that is after his final bombshell equation, and he charges Hazel with safely…


Book cover of The Fractal Murders

Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez Author Of Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Courtroom

From my list on mathematical mysteries.

Why are we passionate about this?

We are a mother and daughter team of mathematicians (respectively a researcher in mathematics and a math graduate who runs an educational company) and detective novel lovers (with Agatha Christie a firm favorite). We’re also both very passionate about the importance of a good foundational mathematics education for everyone.

Leila's book list on mathematical mysteries

Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez Why did Leila love this book?

This book loves to pretend to be a Raymond Chandler type thriller with a hard-boiled detective, but what might be a stereotype is offset by the detective's past and his personal struggle with depression, as well as a romantic interest in his client, an attractive female mathematician who hires him to figure out why three different mathematicians she contacted about the exact same topic have all died recently.  

Pieces are gathered and put together bit by bit to form a well-balanced mystery complete with false leads and a twist at the end. What makes this novel quite unique is the place given to the actual mathematics of fractals, with enough explanation to communicate not only their fascinating nature but also several applications, much of which is even relevant to the mystery. Best of all is the accurate depiction of the passion of the mathematicians for their subject, their lifestyle, and…

By Mark Cohen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Jane Smyers, a math professor specializing in fractal geometry, decides to send an article for proofreading to other specialists around the country, she is shocked to learn that three of them have died under mysterious circumstances. That's where Pepper Keane comes in. An ex-Marine with an encyclopedic knowledge of rock and roll, he finds himself attracted to Professor Smyers and is determined to find out what he can. At first he can't find any evidence that the three dead specialists even knew each other. But Keane continues to dig, and with the help of his computer hacker best friend…


Book cover of The Truth about Archie and Pye (A Mathematical Mystery)

Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez Author Of Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Courtroom

From my list on mathematical mysteries.

Why are we passionate about this?

We are a mother and daughter team of mathematicians (respectively a researcher in mathematics and a math graduate who runs an educational company) and detective novel lovers (with Agatha Christie a firm favorite). We’re also both very passionate about the importance of a good foundational mathematics education for everyone.

Leila's book list on mathematical mysteries

Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez Why did Leila love this book?

This energetic mystery is populated by a range of extremely colourful characters from reclusive twin brother mathematicians to disreputable biographers and Belarusian Mafiosi, and it has a suitably hapless narrator to guide us through the mess of murder, stolen mathematical documents and unsavoury rumours. 

The final revelation is pretty crude and disappointing but it doesn't matter too much because the book up til there is very great (and very British) fun. There's plenty of mathematical trivia and some discussion of actual maths, including an interesting scene where we get to contrast how two brains - one mathematical and one not - approach a problem.

By Jonathan Pinnock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Truth about Archie and Pye (A Mathematical Mystery) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Something doesn't add up about Archie and Pye ...

After a disastrous day at work, disillusioned junior PR executive Tom Winscombe finds himself sharing a train carriage and a dodgy Merlot with George Burgess, biographer of the Vavasor twins, mathematicians Archimedes and Pythagoras, who both died in curious circumstances a decade ago.

Burgess himself will die tonight in an equally odd manner, leaving Tom with a locked case and a lot of unanswered questions.

Join Tom and a cast of disreputable and downright dangerous characters in this witty thriller set in a murky world of murder, mystery and complex equations,…


Book cover of Journey Through Genius: The Great Theorems of Mathematics

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

It is fair to say that many people—even those who loved mathematics as students—view mathematics as having always existed. The idea that definitions and theorems that fill our school textbooks were created or discovered by human beings is something that has never crossed their mind. In fact, mathematics has a long, fascinating, and rich history, and William Dunham’s Journey Through Genius is a perfect introduction to the topic. Dunham expertly writes about the history of topics like geometry, number theory, set theory, and calculus in a way that is entertaining, understandable, and rigorous. After finishing Journey Through Genius, readers will not think about mathematics in the same way, and they will be eager to learn about the history of other mathematical topics, people, and cultures.

By William Dunham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Like masterpieces of art, music, and literature, great mathematical theorems are creative milestones, works of genius destined to last forever. Now William Dunham gives them the attention they deserve.

Dunham places each theorem within its historical context and explores the very human and often turbulent life of the creator - from Archimedes, the absentminded theoretician whose absorption in his work often precluded eating or bathing, to Gerolamo Cardano, the sixteenth-century mathematician whose accomplishments flourished despite a bizarre array of misadventures, to the paranoid genius of modern times, Georg Cantor. He also provides step-by-step proofs for the theorems, each easily accessible…


Book cover of Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality

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?

Frenkel came from the Soviet Union, where discrimination against Jews made it impossible for him to get into Moscow State University. During the oral exam they sent two graduate students to question him, pick holes in his responses, and ensure he failed. He turned to an informal network of Soviet mathematicians for help.

Like him, they were denied serious employment in the field, but after the 'cold war' against the Soviet Union, Harvard invited him to take a fellowship that later turned into a permanent job. Years later, when his old tormentor from Moscow State arrives to give a talk, he confronts the man in a lecture room with first-hand evidence of allegations against the system. Faced with a victim, the Russian mathematician's denials rang hollow. 

This book reaches beyond mathematics to anyone of independent thought in an environment where it is not permitted to step out of line or,…

By Edward Frenkel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Love and Math as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Science BestsellerWhat if you had to take an art class in which you were only taught how to paint a fence? What if you were never shown the paintings of van Gogh and Picasso, weren't even told they existed? Alas, this is how math is taught, and so for most of us it becomes the intellectual equivalent of watching paint dry.In Love and Math , renowned mathematician Edward Frenkel reveals a side of math we've never seen, suffused with all the beauty and elegance of a work of art. In this heartfelt and passionate book, Frenkel…


Book cover of Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture

Manil Suri Author Of The Big Bang of Numbers: How to Build the Universe Using Only Math

From my list on to make you fall in love with mathematics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a mathematics professor who ended up writing the internationally bestselling novel The Death of Vishnu (along with two follow-ups) and became better known as an author. For the past decade and a half, I’ve been using my storytelling skills to make mathematics more accessible (and enjoyable!) to a broad audience. Being a novelist has helped me look at mathematics in a new light, and realize the subject is not so much about the calculations feared by so many, but rather, about ideas. We can all enjoy such ideas, and thereby learn to understand, appreciate, and even love math. 

Manil's book list on to make you fall in love with mathematics

Manil Suri Why did Manil love this book?

For me, this book got the closest to the nitty-gritty of why mathematicians like me, whose job is to prove theorems, find this activity so compelling.

It’s always been the long hunt, with all the frustration as well as the occasional success, that I’ve found so addictive. Doxiadis brought out the nuances of such pursuits brilliantly – the wily Uncle Petros tells the narrator to prove a mathematical statement despite knowing it is almost surely false.

Ah, these little tricks that we mathematicians enjoy playing on unsuspecting souls (I’ve been known to do this to my students a couple of times).

By Apostolos Doxiadis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Uncle Petros is a family joke. An ageing recluse, he lives alone in a suburb of Athens, playing chess and tending to his garden. If you didn't know better, you'd surely think he was one of life's failures. But his young nephew suspects otherwise. For Uncle Petros, he discovers, was once a celebrated mathematician, brilliant and foolhardy enough to stake everything on solving a problem that had defied all attempts at proof for nearly three centuries - Goldbach's Conjecture.

His quest brings him into contact with some of the century's greatest mathematicians, including the Indian prodigy Ramanujan and the young…


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…


Book cover of How to Think Like a Mathematician

Lara Alcock Author Of How to Study as a Mathematics Major

From my list on studying undergraduate mathematics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Reader in the Mathematics Education Centre at Loughborough University in the UK. I have always loved mathematics and, when I became a PhD student and started teaching, I realized that how people think about mathematics is fascinating too. I am particularly interested in demystifying the transition to proof-based undergraduate mathematics. I believe that much of effective learning is not about inherent genius but about understanding how theoretical mathematics works and what research tells us about good study strategies. That is what these books, collectively, are about.

Lara's book list on studying undergraduate mathematics

Lara Alcock Why did Lara love this book?

Many undergraduate mathematics books – even those aimed at new students – are dense, technical, and difficult to read at any sort of speed. This is a natural feature of books in a deductive science, but it can be very discouraging, even for dedicated students. Houston’s book covers many ideas useful at the transition to proof-based mathematics, and he has worked extensively and attentively with students at that stage. Consequently, his book maintains high mathematical integrity and has lots of useful exercises while also being an unusually friendly read.

By Kevin Houston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Think Like a Mathematician as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Looking for a head start in your undergraduate degree in mathematics? Maybe you've already started your degree and feel bewildered by the subject you previously loved? Don't panic! This friendly companion will ease your transition to real mathematical thinking. Working through the book you will develop an arsenal of techniques to help you unlock the meaning of definitions, theorems and proofs, solve problems, and write mathematics effectively. All the major methods of proof - direct method, cases, induction, contradiction and contrapositive - are featured. Concrete examples are used throughout, and you'll get plenty of practice on topics common to many…


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