“You have no maths books in the library, sir.”

“There are lots of maths books in there, on the left as you go in.”

“Why would you want to read those, sir?”

What he meant was we had no ‘interesting’ maths books. There were interesting science books, like Bad science and The epic book of epicness, miles of English literature and books about art and photography and space and poetry, but nothing interesting from the maths side.

And they were absolutely right. We had loads of books on how to do maths, stats testing and old textbooks (why?) – that sort of thing. We had books about field sampling, revision books, past papers and links to other subjects, but no books for the simple pleasure of reading about maths.

None at all.


So I sent out a tweet into the ether:


I got loads of suggestions back.

So a huge thank you to those of you that offered titles, and especially @learningmaths, @accessmaths, @byrdGrainne, @reflective maths, @Ejmaths, @mapleleaf2009, ‪@AlexandeCameron‪ and @lazymarky who made multiple suggestions.

Here is my order that went in last month and today I’m unwrapping and stacking my new ‘shelf of maths greatness’ in the library. Now my “I am currently reading” door sign will read Finding moonshine and this time I might be actually reading it!

My next step is to try and sort out the gender balance in the authors. I was a little shocked when they arrived how few female authors there are, and how few appear in the top ten lists on the interweb or on most of the association reading lists… any suggestions for my next order over the summer warmly appreciated.

Bellos A, Alex’s adventures in numberland, ISBN-13: 978-1408809594, Bloomsbury Paperbacks (4 April 2011)

Bellos A, Alex through the looking glass: how life reflects numbers, and numbers reflect life, ISBN-13: 978-1408845721, Bloomsbury Paperbacks (9 April 2015)

Clegg B, Brief history of infinity: the quest to think the unthinkable, ISBN-13: 978-1841196503, Robinson (12 Sept 2003)

Doxiadis A, Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s conjecture, ISBN-13: 978-0571205110, Faber & Faber; Main edition (5 Mar 2001)

Du Sautoy, Finding moonshine: a mathematician’s journey through symmetry, ISBN-13: 978-0007214624, Harper Perennial (14 May 2009)

Eastaway R, How many socks make a pair?: Surprisingly interesting everyday maths, ISBN-13: 978-1781313244, Aurum Press Ltd (29 May 2014)

Eastaway R and Wyndham J, How long is a piece of string?, ISBN-13: 978-1861056252, Portico; New Ed edition (28 July 2003)

Fry, H, The Mathematics of Love, ISBN-13: 978-1471141805, Simon & Schuster UK (12 Feb 2015)

Hoffman P, The man who loved only numbers: story of Paul Erdos and the search for mathematical truth, ISBN-13: 978-1857028294, Fourth Estate; New Ed edition (3 Jun 1999)

Kjartan P, Murderous maths box set, ISBN-13: 978-1407131948, Scholastic, (4 Aug 2011)

Movshovitz-Hadar N and Webb J, One equals zero and other mathematical surprises, ISBN-13: 978-0873537407, EDS Publications Ltd., (30 Apr 2013)  

Parker M, Things to make and do in the fourth dimension, ISBN-13: 978-0141975863, Penguin (2 July 2015)

Seife C, Zero: the biography of a dangerous idea, ISBN-13: 978-0285635944, Souvenir Press Ltd; New Ed edition (12 Oct 2000)

Singh S, Fermat’s last theorem: the story of a riddle that confounded the world’s greatest minds for 358 years, ISBN-13: 978-1841157917, Fourth Estate Ltd; New Ed edition (6 May 2002)

Singh S, The Simpsons and their mathematical secrets, ISBN-13: 978-1408842812, Bloomsbury Paperbacks (25 Sept 2014)

Smullyan R M, What is the name of this book?: The riddle of Dracula and other logical puzzle, ISBN-13: 978-0486481982, Dover Publications Inc. (28 Oct 2011)

Spiegelhalter, D and Blastland, M, The Norm Chronicles: Stories and numbers about danger, ISBN-13: 978-1846686207, Profile Books (30 May 2013)

Wells D, The Penguin dictionary of curious and interesting numbers, ISBN-13: 978-0140261493, Penguin; Rev Ed edition (4 Sept 1997)

Waring C, From 0 to infinity in 26 centuries: the extraordinary story of maths, ISBN-13: 978-1843178736, Michael O’Mara (6 Sept 2012)