23 Wonderful Math Books for Lifelong Learners to Read in 2023

Ali
12 min readJan 26, 2023

Seventy-eight percent of people I have met in my life have had a traumatic experience with mathematics and therefore hate the subject. For me, this is a problem that we must resolve at once, and while it is impossible for everyone to love math, it is crucial to try at least and help some people enjoy it.

Humans don’t like things that they know nothing about. Therefore, it is completely understandable that millions of people do not enjoy math because they don’t understand the thousands of beautiful concepts that make up the subject. For thousands of years, however, mathematicians have been working toward ideas for a more beautiful world. Furthermore, many of them do not hesitate to share their findings and experiences with us.

To help people enjoy mathematics, showing them the correct and most reasonable resources is crucial. That is why I have organized, in this article, some of the books that I have recently read, which I believe will help break the stereotype of mathematics being a boring old subject in school.

Before I get started, I would like to suggest Audible for those of us who are not the best at reading. Whether you are commuting to work, driving, or simply doing dishes at home, you can listen to these books at any time through Audible. You can try it for free for a month!

Philosophy of Mathematics

Philosophy of Mathematics by Øystein Linnebo | Check the reviews on Amazon.

Anyone truly interested in math has been deeply mesmerized when shown mathematical philosophy; therefore, it is nearly impossible for any mathematician not to be deeply affected by this book. Although Øystein Linnebo expresses his intellectual accumulation throughout this book, it can still be considered an introduction to mathematical philosophy because of his ability to communicate them in simplified terms. Therefore, I recommend books with a more in-depth approach for those who want to delve deeper into mathematical philosophy.

When Einstein Walked with Gödel: Excursions to the Edge of Thought

When Einstein Walked with Gödel: Excursions to the Edge of Thought by Jim Holt | Check the reviews on Amazon.

Jim Holt deserves a standing ovation for one of the best science books ever written. When Einstein Walked with Gödel consists of 10–15 page mathematical, scientific, and philosophical essays and articles. Holt gives space to each piece’s incredible contributions and ideas of the greatest thinkers and scientists in history. What makes this book remarkable is the author’s ability to show us the human aspect of these scientists’ contributions. For example, Kurt Gödel is known for his Incompleteness Theorem. However, most of us don’t know of Gödel’s talks with Einstein in the garden of Princeton University. In this manner, this book is unique from other scientific books.

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife | Check the reviews on Amazon.

Can there be a biography written about a number? Such an interesting idea was brought to life by Charles Seife’s pen. Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea is a book that explains the history of zero, an idea that symbolizes a feeling that has bugged scientists and mathematicians since the beginning of humankind, nothingness, and Infinity. Dissimilar to many math books, this biography is incredibly entertaining and riveting. This book is more of a philosophy and thought book than a math book, anyways. Therefore, you don’t need to be a mathematician to enjoy this book, so this book deserves to be a classic.

How Round Is Your Circle?: Where Engineering and Mathematics Meet

How Round Is Your Circle?: Where Engineering and Mathematics Meet by John Bryant | Check the reviews on Amazon.

This is a book for everyone stuck on the question of “how will math help us in the real world?” In it, there are dozens of examples of how seeming engineering marvels can be constructed by just using mathematics. We all know that you need a ruler to draw a straight line. However, did you know that there is a ruler that helps us draw perfect planes? What makes How Round is Your Circle even more incredible is how it shows how an abstract idea, such as mathematics, is crucial to the construction of seemingly solid structures. This is a book that all mathematicians and engineers should have in their libraries.

Book of Proof

Book of Proof by Richard Hammack | Check the reviews on Amazon.

As per its title, this book has one purpose, to teach you the fundamental methods of proof used in mathematics. In university, my favorite class was Set Theory because we would build mathematics using proofs. That is why this book might be one of the best starter resources for anyone setting out on the journey of mathematics. Furthermore, if we take it that writing mathematical proofs will significantly increase one’s problem-solving and questioning abilities, all life learners can benefit greatly from this book.

Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy by Bertrand Russell | Check the reviews on Amazon.

Bertrand Russell is a great thinker who devoted most of his life to the philosophy of mathematics and spent the last years of his life in a prison where he opposed dictatorial thinking. Listening and reading to Russell’s ideas is incredibly mind-opening. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy is especially incredible in that it explains shortly but very cleanly a topic as crucial as mathematical philosophy. This book presents ideas that seem boring at first, such as mathematical axioms, appealingly and understandably.

Euclid in the Rainforest: Discovering Universal Truth in Logic and Math

Euclid in the Rainforest: Discovering Universal Truth in Logic and Math by Joseph Mazur | Check the reviews on Amazon.

Joseph Mazur is a writer who believes we need mathematical logic to understand the world we live in fully. He wants to show us his theory by showing that all sizeable innovations since Ancient Greece have an underlying foundation in mathematics. He shows us this through the connections between math and the real world, Infinity, probability, and geometry. Here is to hoping there is an increase in books this interesting.

The Math of Life and Death

The Math of Life and Death by Kit Yates | Check the reviews on Amazon.

This book uses mathematics to explain many interesting occurrences which humans have faced. For example, it describes how we use dependent probability, a math concept we learn in high school, to solve a mysterious homicide. In summary, The Math of Life and Death is another interesting book that clearly defines the connection between the world that we live in and mathematics.

Mathematics for Human Flourishing

Mathematics for Human Flourishing by Francis Su | Check the reviews on Amazon.

I have followed Francis Su’s Twitter for a very long time, and it is nearly impossible to miss his obsession with mathematics after reading only a few of his Tweets. Once you read Mathematics for Human Flourishing, you truly understand why he wrote such a book. Throughout his book, Professor Francis explains, through several detailed examples, his obsession with math and why he is obsessed with it. Once you understand Professor Francis’ obsession with math, you truly feel that everyone should understand, love, and enjoy math. It is an incredible must-read for every mathematics educator.

Beyond infinity: An Expedition to the Outer Limits of the Mathematical Universe

Beyond infinity: An Expedition to the Outer Limits of the Mathematical Universe by Eugenia Cheng | Check the reviews on Amazon.

Infinity is a concept that has been explained by many but which few have explained properly. In her book “Beyond Infinity,” however, Eugenia Cheng has brilliantly described the concepts of infinite smallness and largeness. She manages this by first convincing the reader that Infinity is not a number. She then follows Georg Cantor’s steps by comparing the massiveness of different infinities to further solidify in the reader’s mind the concept of Infinity. Lastly, she details Infinity with examples such as Gabriel’s Horn. Beyond Infinity is a book that should be in the library of anyone who is even slightly interested in mathematics.

The Mathematics of Love

The Mathematics of Love by Hannah Fry | Check the reviews on Amazon.

Hannah Fry is one of the most popular mathematicians of our time. I first came across her when I watched her TED Talk on how important mathematical thinking was in our day-to-day interactions. She explained several examples, such as approaching the person you like and organizing a wedding in a unique and mathematical light. The Mathematics of Love is almost a continuation of her TED Talk with more detail and examples. Without delving too deep into mathematics, Fry has explained mathematical thinking in a manner anyone can understand. This is an ideal book for you if you are interested in mathematics, love, or psychology.

Patterns in Nature: Why the Natural World Looks the Way It Does

Patterns in Nature: Why the Natural World Looks the Way It Does by Philip Ball | Check the reviews on Amazon.

Patterns in Nature is a wonderful coffee table book. There are beautiful pictures showcasing symmetry, fractals, spirals, flow, chaos, and many more mathematics and geometry concepts. Furthermore, the 5–6 page explanations behind the images are incredibly eye-opening. The quality of the pieces is quite fascinating. If you put it in the right place, you will surely find yourself looking at the pictures in this book every day.

Math Without Numbers

Math Without Numbers by Milo Beckman | Check the reviews on Amazon.

Milo Beckman is a young author who has outdone himself in his first book. He has described advanced math concepts that aren’t clear to the mind simply and understandably. If ever someone asks you for a math book recommendation, this one will surely be one of the first ones you think of.

The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdős and the Search for Mathematical Truth

The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdős and the Search for Mathematical Truth by Paul Hoffman | Check the reviews on Amazon.

Paul Erdős is a mathematician who has devoted his entire life and earnings to mathematics. It is impossible to see his unique dedication to mathematics and its teaching in another mathematician. That is why this book, written about such a man, by Paul Hoffman to finally do him justice is immensely valuable.

Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction

Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction by Timothy Gowers | Check the reviews on Amazon.

Oxford University has an incredible book series called Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction. Books where experts explain, in a simple manner, topics that people are interested in are ideal. That is why this book, written by the brilliant mathematician Timothy Gowers, is an excellent introduction to mathematics. However, to fully grasp and understand the book, you must know a little more than the four operations in math. Therefore, it is a great book for students starting their mathematics education and those who are slowly delving into the world of mathematical proofs. Lastly, the part of the book about how a mathematician thinks is incredibly eye-opening.

Mathematicians: An Outer View of the Inner World

Mathematicians: An Outer View of the Inner World by Mariana Cook | Check the reviews on Amazon.

This book consists of the experiences and relations with math that dozens of remarkable mathematicians have had. Learning of a mathematician’s source of motivation and seeing their approach to various problems is an extremely valuable lesson. That is why Mathematicians: An Outer View of the Inner World, from its brilliant imagery to its encouraging writing, is a piece everyone should read and witness.

Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure

Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure by Cédric Villani | Check the reviews on Amazon.

Cedric Villani is a one-of-a-kind mathematician. This book, which he published after earning the Fields Medal in 2010, outlines the journey of a theorem he spent years working on. Furthermore, Villani describes that, in a way, the fate of all mathematicians is the same very beautifully in this book by exampling his experiences and their counterparts in the lives of other great mathematicians. Every section of this book is truly interesting, and I believe that readers of the book will wish they had a teacher such as Cedric Villani at some point in their lives.

Number: The Language of Science

Number: The Language of Science by Tobias Dantzig | Check the reviews on Amazon.

This book should come at the top of anyone who is even slightly interested in math’s list of must-reads. Even Einstein comments about this book as “the most interesting book about the evolution of mathematics that has ever fallen into my hands.” By giving us historical examples, Tobias Dantzig shows us how important the concept of numbers is to science. After reading this book, all that you will be able to think of is how important the contributions of the idea of numbers are to the world around us, followed by a deep appreciation for mathematics and its first representatives.

The Fractalist: Memoir of a Scientific Maverick

The Fractalist: Memoir of a Scientific Maverick by Benoit B. Mandelbrot | Check the reviews on Amazon.

Benoit Mandelbrot is the father of what might be the most interesting topic in mathematics, fractals. We are incredibly lucky that he published his findings of 30 years and detailed accounts of how he came upon them with us. The Fractalist: Memoir of a Scientific Maverick is an autobiography where Mandelbrot explains his life’s work and how he became a genius. While it may not be the best autobiography, it is a must-read if you are interested in creativity, mathematics, and how ideas are turned into reality. Even just learning about the fractals present in nature will mesmerize you.

Pasta by Design

Pasta by Design by George L. Legendre | Check the reviews on Amazon.

It is hard to overhype this book because, for someone who enjoys pasta as much as me, it is brilliantly written. If you like penne or spaghetti and just saw the cover of this book, you would want to read it too. This book brings forth the mathematical and geometric reasoning for the different shapes of many types of pasta. Of course, it also tells you which sauce to pair with which kind of pasta as well. In summary, if you are interested in art, mathematics, or pasta, this is the book for you.

The Wonder Book of Geometry: A Mathematical Story

The Wonder Book of Geometry: A Mathematical Story by David Acheson | Check the reviews on Amazon.

Although this book is not a textbook, it should be used by every geometry teacher. While geometry is taught using only formulas in high school, David Acheson’s The Wonder Book of Geometry explains many concepts a student must learn, such as how an ellipse and triangle are constructed, how the derived formulas are achieved, and how we prove said formulas. It doesn’t teach geometry, but if you want to occupy your mind with mathematics in your free time, this is the book for you.

Infinite Powers: The Story of Calculus — The Language of the Universe

Infinite Powers: The Story of Calculus — The Language of the Universe by Steven Strogatz | Check the reviews on Amazon.

This book is my bedside book as a Calculus teacher. After the first ten pages, you stop and wonder how much of a negative it was to not have Steven Strogatz as your high school teacher or university professor. That is because while most educators want you to think of them as intelligent, Professor Strogatz wants you to think of yourself as brilliant. In the first few pages of the book, Professor Strogatz defines Calculus as the language God used to create the universe. Furthermore, he expresses that the concept of simplicity is the entire point of Calculus. Then, he examples how Calculus is used in the world around us. Finally, we read about how the thinkers of this universe, humans, understand seemingly impossible concepts using Calculus. In summary, Infinite Powers is one of the greatest pieces written about Calculus.

Leibniz on Binary: The Invention of Computer Arithmetic by Lloyd Strickland

Suppose you are interested in the history of computing or the work of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. In that case, Lloyd Strickland’s book Leibniz on Binary: The Invention of Computer Arithmetic is a must-read.

In this fascinating work, Strickland delves deep into Leibniz’s binary arithmetic system and its impact on the development of modern computing. This is more than just a dry academic treatise; it is a lively and engaging exploration of an important chapter in computing history. If you are looking for a well-written and informative book on this subject, look no further than Lloyd Strickland’s Leibniz on Binary.

Leibniz on Binary: The Invention of Computer Arithmetic by Lloyd Strickland | Check the reviews on Amazon.
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Ali

Math Teacher. Content Curator. Soccer player. Maradona fan. Mostly write about the lectures I love to learn better. alikayaspor@gmail.com