Please Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure (link) for more info.
For those who like fantasy and fiction, literature can be an eminent choice. And for those who like math or want to learn concepts of math through novels, math literature is the option. These are fictional narratives that may involve a mathematician or a math-related concept in it.
Here, we listed out 15 such books that can be an add-on to your shelf or gift it to someone.. These are simple, and suitable for all readers. Check out these options to get relished with math concepts while also enhancing math fluency simultaneously.
Math literature: Connecting math to real life
Literature is often considered classic for the eminent level of language and narrations. These may be termed as math literature when a math notion or a mathematician plays a crucial role.
While some consider it as a chore, learning math is rewarding. Establishing math in real life warrants motivation in students. With practical knowledge, they can easily retain formulas without memorizing them. It also helps them understand why we use or teach certain equations or concepts that might not make sense when taught in isolation. Math concepts are also related to better creativity and visualizations abilities, which are addressed by literature.
Best math literature books- Our recommendations for you
Here I came up with 15 math literature books that satisfy all the above-said features. These can be choices for all age groups making them appreciable choices in general. Check out these and see which can be your options to opt:
1. Mathematics For Human Flourishing by Francis Su
The author “Francis Su” states that “a society without mathematical affection is like a city without concerts, parks or museums”. For him missing out on mathematics is to live without experiencing some of the most beautiful ideas of humanity. It is a book written especially for those who are disenchanted by their past experiences.
An award-winning mathematician and educator have woven parables, puzzles, and personal reflections to reflect how math meets the basic human desires like play, freedom, beauty, justice, and love. It cultivates the virtues essential for human flourishing. This beautiful Math literature is a lovely and simple account of life in math. This book is the winner of the Mathematics Association of America’s 2021 Euler Book Prize.
2. The Mathematics of Love by Hannah Fry
As the name suggests, it is a mix of life and numbers. The author here focuses on exploring and making readers understand the essence of love life. Romance often has ups and downs and thereby cannot be perfectly quantified. Nonetheless, math has an important role in the same.
In this volume, Hannah Fry shows that love is full of patterns. Accordingly, math is employed here to track it just like the values of the stock market. This number game may be simple for some, while complicated for some others. But with insights in this book, one can find answers to the questions like chances of finding love, algorithms of dates, and other love-related confusions.
3. Numbers Don’t Lie: 71 Things you need to know about the world by Vaclav Smil
In the beautiful book “ Numbers Don’t Lie”, professor Vaclav Smil accompanies us on an adventure which is a kind of fact-finding by using surprising statistics and astounding graphs and charts to challenge lazy thinking.
This book acts as a guide that helps to understand how the number shows the natural, original state of our world while discussing a wide range of topics. This book is packed with fascinating examples like how the US is leading a rising worldwide trend in chicken consumption and why electric cars aren’t as great as we think of it. With a mix of history & science, Numbers Don’t Lie inspires readers to interrogate what they take to be true.
4. Humble Pie: A Comedy of Math Errors by Matt Parker
Most claim that the whole world is built on math. But not all call centers identify the same. It is commonly seen people asking questions like. “Where is this concept being used in real life?” This book is an answer for them.
Starting from skyscrapers to battleships, needles to pens, math is everywhere. And this book clearly demonstrates the same with good descriptions and examples. What makes it further interesting is that it also covers concepts like the internet and big data where math may not be used, and discusses the reason behind it. This way, the reader can be clear about various common entities and their mathematical inferences.
5. The Math of LIfe and Death: 7 Principles that Shape Our Lives by Kit Yates
Math is a part of almost every part of life starting from birth rates. Many people leave off this concept soon after high school and later may face issues in dealing with simple number scenarios. Kit Yates tries to bring out an eye-opener through this book.
With this resource in hand, readers can traverse through an interesting tour of everyday situations and how higher-order math is used in them. Various topics like exponential growth, statistics, and probability in real life are discussed. Moreover, instances like the Chernobyl disaster and Amands Knox trial are also discussed from a mathematical perspective to add strength. By the end, the reader can get a grip on the idea of how math is an undividable part of life.
6. A Gebra Named AI by Wendy Isdell
The narration of the book is woven around a fictional girl, Julie who initially doesn’t like Algebra. But, everything changes when she meets a gebra named AI. This animal takes her to the land of math where various arithmetic concepts are presented in a fun and interpretable way.
Wendy Isdell has written this fiction to take the readers into a world of mathematics. It is a fun and imaginative journey from getting into the Land of mathematics and coming out. The book is an attempt to develop an interest in math while taking them into an imaginary world with the protagonist Julie and events happening in the math world. It is a book that has been wonderfully written and a pleasure to read.
7. The Wild Numbers by Philbert Schott
Originally written in Dutch by Philbert Schott, the finest Math fiction was translated into English in 2000. It’s the story of Issac Swift, a Mathematician. It is a twisted story about him. Isaac finds the solutions to a puzzle that was unsolved for centuries. Nonetheless, later he was charged with plagiarism.
The series of further events will take you on a roller coaster ride. It provides excellent and entertaining insights into the lives and the ill-understood drives of working mathematicians.
8. A Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman
The book revolves around a unique boy, Paul who liked math more than anyone else. The Author cleverly showed this by highlighting the attitude of this boy. For instance, at the age of four itself, he asked people about their age and other number linked queries, while he learned to butter bread at 20.
The interest for math makes Paul come across multiple mathematicians across the world and learn diverse insights. This book shows mathematicians are not always solitary but can also be social with passion. Readers can dive into the land of Paul enhancing their interest in math.
9. Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else by Jordan Ellenberg
Democracy has multiple challenges in choosing representatives, handling pandemics, stock markets, and also school management. Jordan discerns these issues are real and need a solution.
With a small hint, he starts inferring and resolving the case with the use of geometry. It is strange, but the insights are gradually convincing by proving fitting in multiple areas. The book shows how important science, politics, and philosophical problems can be represented using geometrical concepts. By this, he recalls the greek origin of geometry, “Measuring the world”.
The author examines the humanity of mathematics through real-world challenges in a breezy expedition and exposes profound truths.
10. One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor J Pinczes
This book is meant for children. It has rhyming texts that describe the progress of hundred ants marching forward on picnics. One little ant becomes quite worried that their orderly method of traveling will have them missing out on all the food and has many brilliant ideas on how to speed their journey…or does he?
To reach faster, one ant suggests splitting into two and then four and then ten lines. While doing this, they lose both time and food. By the time they reach, the picnic has gone. The illustration of ants with highly individual characters keeps you bound to the book. Reading this book with a child makes them more interested in math and literature.
11. Grandfather’s Tang’s Story by Ann Tompert
The importance of math manipulatives is not discerned by some people. This book explains how these tools are assistive in learning math concepts. The story revolves around a Chinese girl Soo who wants to listen to a fairy tale and ask her grandfather about the same.
He takes an interesting turn by using tangram tiles to craft a world of magic, animals, and friendship. Published in 1990, this book educates readers about the diversified use of tangram manipulative. Accordingly, it can be a choice for those readers who want to outline manipulatives and their utility.
12. The Wonder Book Of Geometry: A Mathematical Story by David Acheson
As a part of school math, we all have come across the Pythagoras theorem. This concept of the triangle and 90 degrees is often an interesting concept. But what proves this? This book has multiple insights to answer in detail.
Filled with illustrations and explanations, David ensures to present the antiquity of geometry from the days of ancient Greece to the present inferences. With these explanations, he lists out the importance of this theorem in real life along with a few examples as well. This way, readers can understand the argument that shows that geometry can offer the easiest route to math.
In the journey, we meet some of the greatest personalities and unfold some loveliest surprises in mathematics.
13. 1089 and All That Journey Into Mathematics By David Acheson
Through this book, David Acheson has done justice while displaying the nature (theorems), beauty (proofs), and power (applications) of the subject – or maybe the beauty is in the theorems and nature is in the proofs?. This book is an explanation of the secrets of applied math with witty events and simple humor. Beginning with simple, the story soon takes us on a thrilling journey. Every chapter is crafted in such a way that the reader won’t get lost during the journey.
14. The Ten Equations That Rule The World: And How You Can Use Them Too By David Sumpter
In the book, David shows how only ten formulas govern multiple aspects of humankind, whether it is betting games on social media or technology. This is an illustration of the equations that make daily life happen. With some witty paragraphs, Stumper makes it clearly visible that the technical details do not make those formulas so useful. It is the way they allow mathematicians to look at problems from a different perspective- a way of seeing the world that anyone can learn. The book “The Ten Equations That Rule The World” depicts how math can bring change in your life.
15. Bernoulli’s Fallacy: Statical Illogic and the Crisis of Modern Science by Aubrey Clayton
Statistical methods are used in multiple areas, even in experimental methods too but there are some errors in these procedures that are often kept under the umbrella of observational errors and probability.
Aubrey in this book starts by diving into the history of statistics and thereby discussing crucial elements in the seventeenth, nineteenth, and twentieth-century and their influence on procedure. With these insights, he not only provides clarity about math and probability but also narrates a few complex concepts easy to understand by general readers thereby making them understand the reasons and strategies to address them.
Math literature is often not only about math but also about some crafted stories that revolve around math. While this may entertain math enthusiasts, for others, these can be noteworthy examples to prove how math can be pragmatic. Getting relaxed with these books can have multiple benefits.
The recommendations we mentioned vary complexities suitable for diverse readers. Check out the above-mentioned book list to see which of them is a better option for you.