Search results: maths

The History of Pi by Petr Beckmann

It is quite rare in maths writing that you get someone who is such a good stylist, and he’s cultured so he puts it in context. It’s an absolute joy to read, even though some of the maths is quite difficult. I would probably recommend it to someone who is already interested in maths.

The Math of Life and Death by Kit Yates

The Math of Life and Death, by Kit Yates, a senior lecturer in mathematical biology at the University of Bath, is an excellent popular math book, demonstrating the many times math plays a critical role in our daily lives—often without us even knowing it. Kit Yates chose the Best Math Books of 2019 for us. […]

After Thought by James Bailey


This book is for generalists, and it’s a very interesting look at the history of maths and science. I found it very engaging, and I have trouble with maths and science books – I don’t usually finish them. 

Infinite Powers: The Story of Calculus by Steven Strogatz

“I yield freely to the sacred frenzy”—Johannes Kepler, 1619. Infinite Powers: the Story of Calculus is a popular math book, written for a general audience. In it, mathematician Steven Strogatz not only takes us through the history of calculus, from Archimedes to the present day—pointing out its extraordinary contribution to modern life along the way—but […]

Favourite Maths Books, especially Geometry, recommended by David Acheson

From Thales’s theorem to the Banach-Tarski paradox, Oxford mathematician David Acheson’s book, The Wonder Book of Geometry, is a lively attempt to bring to life geometry—literally, ‘earth measurement’—and make it accessible to the general public. Here, David recommends some of the books that influenced him, “in the order in which I met them, over a timespan of some 60 years.”

The Quants by Scott Patterson

It’s about the mathematicians and rocket scientists who came up with a series of concepts as to how to use math to try to game the market

Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh

The book makes maths really, really fascinating: it’s about the history of maths, and also about the Cambridge mathematician Andrew Wiles who was obsessed with Fermat’s theorem since the age of ten and spent his whole life wanting to solve it, and finally did in the 1990s. It’s great because Simon Singh has this ability to write about the driest and most complex scientific or mathematical concepts and issues, and somehow make them come alive. 

The Best Quantum Computing Books, recommended by Chris Bernhardt

Quantum computing: it sounds more complicated than quantum mechanics, but it isn’t. Mathematician Chris Bernhardt, author of Quantum Computing for Everyone, explains why you need to know about it and which books will help you understand what it’s all about.

The Best Introductions to Economics, recommended by Tim Harford

Nearly every aspect of our life is determined by economics, and yet it’s easy to go through life understanding very little about it. Author and columnist Tim Harford (aka the ‘Undercover Economist’) introduces the best books to get you thinking like an economist.

The Best of Speculative Fiction, recommended by Ken Liu

Ken Liu, the multi-award winning author of The Paper Menagerie, explains how using elements of fantasy and science fiction can help us examine deep truths about the human condition, as he recommends the best of contemporary speculative fiction.

The Best Science Books of 2018, recommended by Barbara Kiser

“As life on Earth is rocked by conflict and environmental crisis, these serene little scientific emissaries remind us of how different it can be when we collaborate selflessly in the getting of knowledge.” Barbara Kiser, veteran science journalist and the books and arts editor at Nature, chooses the best science books of 2018.

The Man Who Counted by Malba Tahan

The author Malba Tahan is a fictional character, a pen name, and the book is set in Arabia as a mixture of One Thousand and One Nights and a maths book. It is composed of lovely little stories and, with each chapter of a few pages, it introduces a mathematical idea along with a story about travelling through the Arab world.

The Best Macroeconomics Textbooks, recommended by Raffaele Rossi

In its study of the broader economy, macroeconomics is a vital tool for understanding the world around us, offering insights into issues that affect us all, like inflation and unemployment. Which textbooks to read to learn more about it? Here, Raffaele Rossi, Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester, recommends his top macroeconomics textbooks, starting with entry-level books aimed at undergraduates all the way through to the tough tomes you’ll need to plough through if you’re doing a doctorate and want to work at the frontier of the discipline.

Butterfly Economics by Paul Ormerod

He uses the mathematics of complexity theory, which looks at non-linear relationships over time. Economics has tended to use linear relationships, because they’re easy to solve.

Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy

Stella Maris is the second of the linked novels from Pulitzer prize-winning Cormac McCarthy—one of the greatest living American authors. The two books tell the story of Bobby and Alicia Western, a brother and sister pair tormented by their family history—their physicist father helped invent the atom bomb.  In Stella Maris—a novel that unfolds entirely through […]

The best books on Artificial Intelligence, recommended by ChatGPT

Normally at Five Books we ask experts to recommend the best books in their field and talk to us about them in an interview, either in person, by phone or via Zoom. After a busy end-of-year, our human beings needed a few days off. Instead, we decided to ask the AI bot, ChatGPT, to recommend books to us on the topic of AI. Being an AI doesn’t necessarily make the chatbot an expert on AI books, but we thought it might have some ideas. Do not fear, next week we’ll be back with real human beings (unless readers feel the AI did a better job, in which case we’re happy to step aside).

The Passenger & Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy

Sixteen years after his devastating, Pulitzer Prize-winning post-apocalyptic novel The Road was released, Cormac McCarthy—one of the greatest living American authors—has published two new linked novels, The Passenger and Stella Maris. The two books (shown here as a boxset) tell the story of Bobby and Alicia Western, a brother and sister pair tormented by their […]

Best Series for 10 Year Olds, recommended by Izzy

Everyone wants to get their kids reading, and a really gripping series is a great way of developing their inner bookworm. Izzy, a 10-year-old girl living in the UK, talks us through her favourite series for kids.

The Wonder Book of Geometry: A Mathematical Story by David Acheson

From Thales’s theorem to the Banach-Tarski paradox, Oxford mathematician David Acheson’s book, The Wonder Book of Geometry, is a lively attempt to bring to life geometry—literally, ‘earth measurement’—and make it accessible to the general public. It has a lot of illustrations, not just of triangles, but portraits of mathematicians (like Euclid of Alexandria), maps, early […]

The best books on How the World Works, recommended by Venkatesh Rao

Armed with one of the ‘big histories’ currently in vogue, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and a tome about how modern maths came to be, you too can get a grip on how the world works. Tech blogger Venkatesh Rao chooses some good books for those who agree with Socrates that ‘for a human being, the unexamined life is not worth living.’

The Best Puzzle Books, recommended by A. J. Jacobs

In a quest to solve every puzzle imaginable, bestselling author A.J. Jacobs came across a lot of books. Here, he recommends some of his favourites, from logic puzzles to treasure hunts, from codebreaking to the biggest puzzle of them all—why we’re here.