For a couple of years, within the antediluvian epoch of 2019ish, I did annual posts of “books I like.”
Then I finished.
Not that I finished loving books. I simply stopped posting about them. (I suppose I received too busy writing them.)
Anyway, over at Shepherd.com I shared my three “favourite” books of the present 12 months. For what it’s price, I share my four-year-old’s non-exclusive notion of “favourite”. (“Blue is my favourite coloration. And yellow. I feel rainbow is my favourite coloration.”)
So don’t put an excessive amount of inventory within the rankings, simply within the books.
I’ve additionally been dashing off occasional evaluations at Goodreads. I decline to present five-star rankings (in protest of the doubtful notion that “ebook high quality” could be quantified), however however I feed my prose into Amazon’s machine studying algorithms. Ah properly.
One ebook I heartily advocate for math educators is Christopher J. Phillips’s New Math: A Political Historical past. (Disclaimer: I obtained this ebook as fee for some work I did for College of Chicago Press; I like getting paid in books.) From my assessment:
What’s fascinating right here is that, for each supporters and opponents, the New Math was not about take a look at scores, achievement gaps, calculation skills, or different extra acquainted considerations. It was in regards to the nature of mathematical thought, and how much considering was wanted for a democratic society.
However I can’t assist questioning if each the reformers and the anti-reformers had all of it flawed. Perhaps math training doesn’t must be in regards to the mental habits of a free society. Perhaps math training ought to simply be about math. These stakes appear excessive sufficient!
I additionally advocate Lillian Lieber’s midcentury pop math basic The Training of T.C. Mits. (The identify stands for “The Celebrated Man within the Avenue.”)
Lieber brims with a Twentieth-century optimism about arithmetic as a mannequin of democracy, an optimism that I discovered (1) antiquated, and (2) refreshing:
The ebook got here out in 1942, with a jacket blurb from Albert Einstein. A number of years later, science like Einstein’s would beginning the atom bomb: an ideal instance of the analysis course of Lieber describes, and a mighty problem to her optimistic interpretation of it.
My very own feeling (a cynical, Twenty first-century feeling, I worry) is that math and science are amoral. There is no such thing as a inherent goodness within the analysis course of, no motive to assume that science escapes all of the pitfalls of human establishments.
And it’s exactly for that reason that we want Lieber and people like her.
One other enjoyable midcentury math popularization is The Man Who Counted, by Malba Tahan. I can’t deny a cost of Orientalism (“Tahan” is the Muslim pen-name of a non-Muslim Brazilian author) however the prose is pleasant and among the issues are simply splendid.
I haven’t written a assessment however I jotted down plenty of quotes like this one:
For those who have no idea methods to calculate precisely, your visions are price nothing.
Which is instantly balanced by:
For those who arrive at them by means of calculation alone, I disbelieve them.
Additional afield, I additionally loved:
- Todd Might’s A First rate Life (through which a thinker makes an attempt, unsuccessfully however nobly, to think about a morality that covers our bases with out asking an excessive amount of of us)
- Pierre Lazlo’s Citrus: A Historical past (a chemist’s dense but scattered historical past, from which I used to be happy to squeeze some tasty information and recipes)
- Lewis Hyde’s The Present (a difficult however eye-opening imaginative and prescient of one thing past the “commodity” mindset)
I also needs to point out Marcus du Sautoy’s new ebook of mathematical video games, if solely as a result of the entrepreneurs determined to actually run with my blurb:
Anyway, what have y’all been studying? Any sizzling suggestions for me?