[ Update: 10/25/10: Lance Hilfman has been selected as the winner of the book. If you were one of the 20 people to comment on this post you can get two books for the price of one on the purchase of up to four books. ]
To be in the running for this book, leave a comment (with your email in the comment form) telling why you'd like the book. When I get 20 comments I'll close comments for this post, I'll have Random.org pick a random comment, I'll pass your email address to the publisher, and they'll ship you the book. Remember, you must be in the U.S.
Matthew Watkins contacted me out of the blue a while ago, offering me a review copy of his new book, "The Mystery of the Prime Numbers." Not really having a sense of what the book was about but knowing that I like mysteries and prime numbers I happily accepted. When the book arrived I opened it to a few random pages to get a feel for the material. I was immediately hooked. Bear with me while I tell a bit of a story and then I'll get back to what hooked me.
When I was in high school I attended the summer Ross program at the Ohio State University. Professor Arnold Ross taught us number theory. The course was hard, really hard. The problem sets were brutal. But, there was something exhilarating about the program. Part of the thrill was Professor Ross' way of conveying difficult concepts. An equal part of the thrill was the subject itself. Number theory is the kind of subject that lends itself to very rich exploration. It was thrilling that, as a high school student, without a background in advanced mathematics, I could dive into such a rich subject matter that so many consider to be out of reach. I vividly remember Professor Ross telling us to "think deeply of simple things." The message stuck. Much of what we consider to be "advanced" mathematics -- calculus, number theory, and other branches -- are accessible to us if we think deeply of simple things.
Back to Matthew's book. It's about prime numbers. The concepts are simple. There are no equations to scare readers off. There are fun illustrations, by Matt Tweed. The concepts are deep. Matthew dives into the Prime Number Theorem, harmonic decomposition, spiral waves, and much more. The book reads like a fairy tale - a journey for children of all ages into the depths of truly simple mathematics. The book, in my judgment, lives up to its promise of being accessible. It is very entertaining yet remarkably rigorous. It renews my pleasure of finding joy in deep and simple things.
I have a confession. Book reviews are hard for me to write. When I open an exceptional book, like Here's Looking at Euclid: A Surprising Excursion Through the Astonishing World of Math by Alex Bellos, I get writer's block. I get lost in the awe of the material. I respond to Math books with a feeling rather than with a bunch of words. The feeling is often awe, or joy, or wow, or some combination of them. This book triggers all of the above.
Alex Bellos is a journalist. This is his first popular Math book and it is a big hit, particular in the UK. Fifteen Amazon reviewers have given the book an average rating of 4 1/2 stars. Bellos traveled around the world meeting with people who have interesting Math-related stories to tell. A few items from the table of contents will give you a feel for the book:
Chapter Three -- Something about nothing... In which the author travels to India for an audience with a Hindu seer. He discovers some very slow methods of arithmetic and some very fast ones.
Chapter Five -- The x-factor... In which the author explains why numbers are good but letters are better. He visits a man in the English countryside who collects slide rules and hears the tragic tale of their demise. Includes an exposition of logarithms and how to make a superegg.
Chapter Six -- Playtime... In which the author is on a mathematical puzzle quest. He investigates the legacy of two Chinese men -- one was a dim-witted recluse and the other fell off the earth -- and then flies to Oklahoma to meet a magician.
[ Update 9/24: Maria won the copy of the book. Stay tuned for more book giveaways. ]
I just received this email from a publisher:
Dear Sol Lederman,
I’m writing from The Experiment, a nonfiction publisher in New York City. We’re just about to publish a new book for parents on math education—Old Dogs, New Math: Homework Help for Puzzled Parents, by Rob Eastaway and Mike Askew. We found your excellent math blog, and we thought that you might want to consider this new book for a review, for a reader giveaway, or otherwise for your site.
Old Dogs, New Math is a timely new resource for parents who would like to be able to help their children with their math homework, but who find themselves puzzled by the math problems their children have brought home, or who may have tried to offer guidance but whose kids advise, “That’s not how the teacher does it!”
Rob Eastaway, author of numerous popular math books, and Mike Askew, a college professor of math education, outline all the new strategies elementary schools use to teach students not only to solve math problems, but also to explain why their methods work. Old Dogs, New Math is sure to lower everyone’s stress levels when the hour rolls around every evening for math homework!
We’d be delighted to send you a review copy of Old Dogs, New Math to consider for your website, and/or a copy for a giveaway contest. If you’re interested, please advise me of where we should send a copy.
You can find more information about Old Dogs, New Math and its authors at the website: here.
The publisher is willing to give away a copy of the book TO A U.S. ADDRESS. Here's the game. Leave a comment if you'd like to win a copy of the book. Make sure to include your email address in the comment form. When I get 20 comments I'll disable comments for this post and I'll have random.org pick a random comment. That person will win the book.
The Mathematics and Multimedia Blog Carnival #3 has been posted. Starting next months the Carnival will travel. I'll be hosting #4 (a number that's easy to say something about.)
Please submit your articles using the official form.
I just received this email from my publicity contact at Princeton University Press and thought it worth passing on.
This week, Princeton University Press is giving away a copy of Adrian Banner’s Calculus Lifesaver to one of our facebook fans or twitter followers. I thought you might want to share news of this with your readers, friends, colleagues, and/or students. The Calculus Lifesaver (and the wonderful videos of Banner’s lectures, links below) has helped thousands of college students ace calculus. The best way I’ve heard this book described is that it is not a book about “how to do calculus,” rather it is a book about “how to do calculus well.”
Here’s the giveaway announcement: This week's book giveaway is for all the back-to-school students who have calculus this term or for those of you who can't get enough of calculus: "The Calculus Lifesaver: All the Tools You Need to Excel at Calculus" by Adrian Banner. All of our Facebook followers are automatically entered to win.
I hope you will help me spread the word about this great book giveaway and if you are not already a fan of ours on facebook, please visit our page and click Like. We have a weekly book giveaway – they aren’t all math books, but given our history of publishing good math books, it’s bound to crop up from time to time.
I've been blogging about the Math blogosphere at Equalis. Here are my three most recent posts: