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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Books Bought, Books Left Behind

Always fun for me to talk books….

I recently posted some math-related book suggestions for the holiday season, but then also played Santa to myself, ordering 4 books online I'd been considering for awhile:

 One volume was autistic savant Daniel Tammet's "Thinking In Numbers," which was on that prior suggestion list. It hasn't arrived yet, but I very much enjoyed Tammet's first two books, and expect to enjoy this one as well (Tammet's introspective analyses of how his own incredible mind works are usually fascinating).
 "The Mystery of the Primes" by Matthew Watkins is another British book which hasn't arrived yet, but I've seen consistently good reviews of it and it covers material I'm interested in. Looking forward to it.

 Am very pleased with the two books that have arrived: "Introduction to Mathematical Thinking" by Keith Devlin is a wonderful, succinct treatise on… drrrumroll… mathematical thinking. It's under 100 pages and by the end I expect to have a much better understanding of why so many of us get through elementary and high school mathematics with some ease, yet hit a brick wall in college math (Devlin's recently-completed MOOC course was based on this slim volume).
The other book received is an oldie-but-goodie: "Satan, Cantor, and Infinity" by Raymond Smullyan, another grand collection of puzzles and paradoxes by one of the Masters (and with a title like that, how could the volume be anything but good!).
I'm set for the Holidays!!

Lastly though, an oddball book I DIDN'T purchase, and not a math book...

I tend to think I'm acquainted with most of Martin Gardner's works, certainly his recreational math volumes and also his various essay volumes… but the man was incredibly prolific (over 100 books!), and apparently I've missed a few along the way:
Just today, browsing the used books in a thrift store I stumbled across, "Urantia: The Great Cult Mystery" by Martin Gardner (1995) …I could hardly believe my eyes! Martin Gardner found the time, the desire, the wherewithal to write a 400-page book on the Urantia Book and the wacky cult it spawned. Scanning through it, it seemed filled with his usual, detailed, meticulous writing as if he was addressing recreational topology instead of debunking a cult. It would probably have been worth the $1 price just to enjoy Martin's writing… still, I passed on this one.
But... I never cease to be amazed at how the man's mind worked!!

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