A call to read

I’ve been traveling quite a bit in the last week or so visiting lots of old friends and such.  And I have noticed that my mathematically inclined friends often have similar books on their bookshelves.  This seems like a great idea.  Perhaps everyone should own Rudin and baby Rudin Analysis.  But there are other books that everyone also seems to have;  God Created the Integers, The Golden Ratio, and Flatland are the three most common books on a mathematicians read_a_bookshelf which contain more history than mathematics.  There are several other common books, Through Euclid’s Window, The Man who Loved only Numbers, and Letters to a Young Mathematician among them.  Perhaps you know of others?  What do you have on your bookshelf for the literary inclined mathematician?

I think it is wonderful that the math culture has created this rich and enduring volumes about the giants whose shoulders we stand apon as mathematicians.  But what I find truly amazing is that so many of my collegues purchase these books but never actually read them!  And so I say to you; Read!  These are excellent books worthy of your time.  Take a break from the latest episode of Numb3rs and pick up a book for a couple hours.  You will be richly reward with fascinating stories of all the mathematicians who came before you.  It’s a great culture we young mathematicians enter into and it is wonderful that authors are starting to research and put together vibrant windows into our culture.

About Samantha from SocialMath

Applied Mathematician and writer of socialmathematics.net.
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3 Responses to A call to read

  1. I imagine that along with Flatland, you might consider another 18th century Mathematician novelist, notably Lewis Carroll (aka Charles Dodgson): Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Surely everyone’s read one of these.

  2. Ryan says:

    I just graduated with my undergraduate in math and I am preparing for graduate school in the fall. I am glad to have the summer to be able to read. It’s a opportunity to step outside the math. I’m currently reading “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein. Anything that can expand our understanding of the world has the potential to help with our mathematics.

  3. Samantha says:

    The amazing thing is that even if you only read half of the books I mentioned above you will have read 75% more than any of your incoming 1st year graduate students. It’s amazing how little history we young mathematicians know about our own subject. Considering how far back mathematics goes- it’s surprising we only know of a few mathematicians.

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