Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Non-Fiction: Here's Looking at Euclid: A Surprising Excursion Through the Astonishing World of Math by Alex Bellos

The title alone earns it a second look. With that title Here’s Looking at Euclid (Free Press) promises to deliver the impossible: math that is fun. Who knew it could even be done?

Well, actually, author Alex Bellos did. Bellos claims that, as a child, he was good at both writing and math (a combination many -- myself included -- would have thought was impossible). After graduating from Oxford with degrees in math and philosophy he became a journalist. And where do you go from there? Here’s Looking at Euclid.
When writing this book, my motivation was at all time to communicate the excitement and wonder of mathematical discovery. I also wanted to show that mathematicians can be funny.
And with this impossible goal in mind, Bellos moved forward and achieved it. Here’s Looking at Euclid is one of those rare and wonderful books: it manages to entertain, enlighten and engage on every level. With stories and numbers, Bellos actually does manage to achieve his goal and Here’s Looking at Euclid is reaching international audiences, conveying not only excitement, but philosophical satisfaction in numbers. There are aspects of geometry -- and PI and x-factor and so much else -- that you’ll never look at the same way again. ◊

Aaron Blanton is a contributing editor to January Magazine. He’s currently working on a book based on his experiences as an American living abroad.

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