Oh no! Your favourite mathematician has a birthday/Christmas/other present-giving occasion coming up and you don’t know what book to get them! They’ve already got Cracking Mathematics and The Maths Behind, obviously… so what can you give them this year?
Fear not, dear reader. I am at hand to list some of my favourite maths books (ordered alphabetically by author).
How Many Socks Make a Pair? by Rob Eastaway: Rob is an absolute hero of popular maths writing, and it’s always a delight to see him take an everyday phenomenon and turn it into a puzzle.
The Indisputable Existence Of Santa Claus by Hannah Fry and Thomas Oléron Evans: Despite having two small children, I am an avowed Grinch when it comes to Christmas. This book made the festive season almost tolerable. (Full review, scroll down.)
The Man Who Loved Only Numbers by Paul Hoffman: I’m pretty sure this is the first book I ever had to pay a library fine for. A splendid biography of Erdos.
$e$: The Story of a Number by Eli Maor: It’s quite tricky, as a maths writer, to balance accessiblity with detail. Maor does that brilliantly, weaving out the history of $e$ with a beautiful light touch.
The Theory That Would Not Die by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne: I’m not much of a statistician, but if I was, I’d be a Bayesian. That’s due in large part to McGrayne’s brilliant exposition of Bayes’s Theorem and its applications. (Full review.)
Closing the Gap by Vicky Neale: Neither am I much of a number theorist, but Neale’s book made me feel like I could be, if I wanted to. A splendid guide to recent advances in the twin prime conjecture. (Full review at The Aperiodical.)
Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension by Matt Parker: A giant in the maths outreach world, Parker’s debut book1 is characteristically comical and thought-provoking. This would be my “if in doubt, get this” choice. (Full review.)
Seventeen Equations That Changed The World by Ian Stewart: You can rely on Ian Stewart to be fascinating – to take a mathematical object, start with its surface and dig deep until everyone is learning something new. Seventeen Equations does exactly that, with… er… seventeen equations. (Full review.)
And if I’m your favourite mathematician… I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve read all of these. I have a wishlist here. While I get a small cut if you click one of the links and buy from Amazon, I’d be thrilled if you supported your local bookstore instead.