STEAM WEEK: Mathematics

In honor of STEAM Week, I’ve put together a series of books on various topics of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Today, we’re focusing on the M: Mathematics.

What makes math so interesting is that it controls and influences the entire world around us. It’s so much more than just numbers on a page. Now, I was that kid who was always complaining about how “I won’t actually use this in real life!” If you’re in the same boat, read this book and prepare to prove yourself wrong. Humble Pi: When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World will teach you about a whole history of mathematical mishaps where things can go horribly wrong because of a few wrong digits or a misplaced decimal. This is not your grade school mathematics!

Want to take a more positive approach? Then instead of focusing on how math can go wrong, let’s look at How Math Can Save Your Life. This book will provide you with plenty of practical advice for using math in your day to day life. How can you earn money from the credit card companies? Can driving a hybrid help you to save money? And how do you know if someone is “the one”? With math, of course! Learn these tricks and more, with easy-to-follow tips and real-life examples. Never call math boring or impractical again!

Fluke: the Math and Myth of Coincidence addresses the idea that things sometimes just happen. It’s just coincidental that on your trip to Paris, you happened to find your college copy of Moby-Dick in a used book store. Or, is it really a coincidence? What is the probability of something like that happening? How likely is it for two strangers named Francisco and Maria (who are supposed to meet up with each other) to meet up with the wrong Francisco and the wrong Maria at the same hotel? Can anything happen by chance, or is there actually a mathematical equation for that? You’ll have to read this book to find out!

Who says that math has to be boring? (Well, actually, I said that quite a bit in school, because I was not good at math). If you’re like me, and struggle with understanding the finer points of difficult equations, then this book is for you. Call of the Primes is a collection of puzzles that any puzzle-lover is sure to enjoy, whether or not they’re good at math. From magic squares to the Fibonacci sequence, have some fun and learn something new at the same time!

We’ll wrap this list up with something delicious. How to Bake π explores math from the perspective of the kitchen. This quirky read addresses everything from why we consider tomatoes to be a vegetable to how to share a cake evenly among three people (problematic since everyone would get 33.3%, leaving that pesky .1% left over). Math might seem hard, but it’s meant to make difficult things easier to understand. From running marathons to the writings of Lewis Carroll, this book opens your eyes to the structured, numeric world that’s all around us.

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Erin

I'm the Reader's Advisory Librarian at WPPL. My interests include old horror films, classic novels, manga and anime, paper-crafting, and plants. If you like my suggestions, you can request personalized recommendations from me on My Librarian page.