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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Recreational Math Suggestions

I noticed today on Twitter someone asked for a listing of recreational math books suitable for students, so thought I'd post a quick list of some favorites I have on hand, but these aren't necessarily the best or most recent volumes. Especially if the individual is seeking interesting/fun problems I'm guessing either Mike Lawler or Tanya Khovanova (among others) may be able to provide a better list. Also, Quora-math did a great posting some while back with many fun puzzle/problem book suggestions:

Still, here's my own list of some recreational-related volumes that I've enjoyed:

Classics from Martin Gardner:

The Colossal Book of Mathematics

(...and of course many others from Martin)

three from Ian Stewart:

Professor Stewart's Casebook of Mathematical Mysteries
Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities

Professor Stewart's Hoard of Mathematical Treasures

Clifford Pickover:

A Passion For Mathematics
Wonders of Numbers

Alfred Posamentier:

Math Charmers
Mathematical Curiosities
Mathematical Amazements and Surprises

David Wells: Games and Mathematics 
Matt Parker: Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension 

any of Raymond Smullyan's books

Finally, I love paradoxes and believe they offer an excellent gateway for introducing young people to 'critical/mathematical thinking.' They aren't always very mathematical themselves, but rather, often nicely straddle boundaries between math, philosophy, and science. A few of my favorite volumes, suitable for young minds are:

Labyrinths of Reason
by William Poundstone
Paradoxes in Mathematics
by Stanley Farlow
Paradoxes from A to Z
by Michael Clark
Paradoxes: Adventures In the Impossible
by Gary Hayden and Michael Picard
This Sentence Is False
by Peter Cave

Hope this listing helps someone out, and of course feel free to add your own faves in the comments below.


.mau. said...

Hi, Shecky!
I would add to the latter list some books by Raymond Smullyan (at least The lady or the tiger? and What is the name of this book?.

As for mathematical problems, I'd add The Moskow Puzzles by Boris Kordemsky and Mathematical Quickies by Charles Trigg. There are also a lot of books more difficult or too much easy, of course :-)

John Golden said...

Sawyer has several neat older books of problems.

I'm not sure it's recreational for a general audience, but Professor Posey's Perplexing Problems.

Socks Are Like Pants (Rosenfeld and Hamilton) and This is Not a Math Book (Weltman) and Patterns of the Universe (Bellos and Harriss) are some newer ones.

What about fiction with math problems, like The Phantom Tollbooth, The Number Devil, The Cat in Numberland or The Man Who Counted?

"Shecky Riemann" said...

Speaking of fiction, John, reminds me of a novel Martin Gardner highly recommended called "Popco" by British author Scarlett Thomas, that apparently includes lots of recreational mathematics. (I've never read it, but if Gardner highly touts it, it's no doubt good.)

Donald Knuth's "Surreal Numbers" also comes to mind.