The best books about mathematicians 📚

Browse the best books on mathematicians as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

Coming Fall 2022: The ability to sort this list by genre (signup here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books).

Book cover of Alan Turing: The Enigma

Alan Turing: The Enigma

By Andrew Hodges

Why this book?

Turing was the greatest mathematician in mid-century England—a codebreaker for the German codes and much much more. Turing machines are still the (abstract) computers that model what is possible and what is not. Alan Turing himself was gay when this was an unsolvable problem—and his life ended far too soon. He had so much to give.

From the list:

The best books about mathematicians and their lives

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Men of Mathematics

Men of Mathematics

By E.T. Bell

Why 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…

From the list:

The best science books to enjoy and to get you thinking

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

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

Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality

By Edward Frenkel

Why this book?

Love and Math is a mathematical autobiography, seamlessly interweaving an inspiring personal journey with profound mathematical ideas. Born in the Soviet Union, Frenkel aspired to become a professional mathematician, only to see his hopes crushed by entrenched antisemitism at Moscow State University – home to the premier mathematics program in the country. While sitting for the entrance exam, he was confronted by two advanced graduate students who were sent to question him personally and make sure he failed. Rejected but undeterred, Frenkel turned instead to an informal network of top-flight but marginalized Soviet mathematicians, who like him were denied employment…

From the list:

The best books on the power and wonder of mathematics

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer

By Sydney Padua

Why this book?

A graphic novel about Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage, and their quixotic Victorian escapades designing computers and algorithms nearly a century before their time? As fascinating as that may already sound, it’s only the beginning. This is the only graphic novel I’ve read that has footnotes to the footnotes—immensely amusing footnotes. While reading this book, I feel constantly in the presence of insane genius. (But please read this book on physical paper. It is a work of art.)

From the list:

The best books about algorithms for people who don’t know anything about algorithms

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Emmy Noether: The Most Important Mathematician You've Never Heard of

Emmy Noether: The Most Important Mathematician You've Never Heard of

By Helaine Becker, Kari Rust

Why this book?

This might be the most important picture book biography I’d never heard of. Why do all of us know Albert Einstein but not Emmy Noether, who sewed up a hole in his theory of relativity and went on to a discovery that transformed physics? Three guesses why. Like every account of the many brilliant women of STEM who were barred from classrooms, denied degrees, refused fair pay, and robbed of credit for accomplishments, Emmy’s story is often enraging. Add a narrow escape from the Nazis followed by a tragically early death, and you might not expect a fun read. But…

From the list:

The best picture book biographies of Jewish women

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Makers of Mathematics

Makers of Mathematics

By Stuart Hollingdale

Why 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.

From the list:

The best books on mathematics for the general reader

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Or, view all 29 books about mathematicians

New book lists about mathematicians

All book lists about mathematicians

Bookshelves related to mathematicians

Browse books by…