Thursday, May 24, 2018

Book Notes...




First a clarification:
Recently I linked to this excerpt that I was excited to see from a new Jim Holt book (“When Einstein Walked with Gödel”) and assumed the book was entirely about Einstein, Gödel, Cantor, infinity, and the like:

However I now have the book in-hand, fresh off the press, and it is even more sumptuous than that, as it is a compendium of Holt essays over a couple of decades, covering a much wider range of fascinating topics, of which the excerpt was just one. Leafing through it I can already tell it will be one of my favorite volumes of the year… and this year looks to have more wonderful math-related books than I'd anticipated.

We just got the news yesterday that Ben Orlin will be out in September with “Math With Bad Drawings” (the book)… I mean how freakin' coooool is THAT! Just a few days ago I tweeted that Ben’s mind was either a marvel… or, a mutation ;) I’m still not sure which it is, but CONGRATULATIONS to him either way, and to the publisher that snagged him! Oh, and he'll be doing a book tour (so catch him before he retires to some paradise island and lives off book royalties henceforth).

Also due in September, is Eugenia Cheng’s latest (and timely) offering “The Art of Logic in an Illogical World.”  Now come on you math writers could you please get your act together and space these volumes out a little better! Actually, I have an uncorrected review copy of the Cheng's book and will be reporting on it shortly.

Right around the corner in June, Sabine Hossenfelder’s “Lost In Math” is due to hit stores, for those with a penchant for the overlap of math and physics.

Due in August is Deborah Mayo’s “Statistical Inference as Severe Testing: How to Get Beyond the Statistics Wars” which may well be more geared to professional statisticians than to a general audience (not sure).

I’ll reiterate a thumb’s-up for David Acheson’s slim little introduction/primer (that I mentioned briefly before) on elements of calculus, “The Calculus Story,” especially for any just starting or refreshing their journey into calculus.

Also, on my desk right now is Nassim Taleb’s latest, “Skin In the Game,” a hugely fun, entertaining read (less than 100 pages in), but more philosophy (or even social anthropology) than math thus far (there is math in the brief Appendix), so I’ll blurb about it at some point, though it might not re-appear on my year-end list.

Have a few other non-math books in my queue at the moment, but the only one I’ll mention is Robert Wright’s “Why Buddhism Is True,” newly out in paperback (a poor title methinks, but an engaging treatment of the subject for those so interested).

A couple of other mathy books I’d like to get to before year’s end, but may not at this rate, are Vicky Neale’s “Closing the Gap,” and Hans Rosling’s “Factfulness.”

Have a feeling that come December it will be harder-than-usual to pick a favorite volume of the year.


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