on 19 February 2013
Opening this book brought back unhappy memories at first. I purchased it because I was always at a loss when it came to
equations and I wanted to revisit the subject. I scanned the pages at first and almost felt my ex-maths teacher at my shoulder; not an understanding sort of fellow! He used to petrify me. However, I started to read the text and follow the examples on each
page. The author's light-hearted style of writing was much appreciated and I could follow each explanation easily.Using a sentence like 'This may look a bit weird, but bear with me' is just what the reader needs, it is not at all intimidating. My only slight criticism is that the book could usefully include a few examples (and answers) within each section for the reader to try. My only regret is that the author wasn't my maths teacher in the 60's !
My friends have been telling me for years that I am 'not like other men' and I suspect my purchase - and subsequent enjoyment - of this book will do nothing to disabuse them of that notion. Because you see, while most blokes with a mid-life crisis pencilled-in just buy themselves a motorbike and begin a clandestine relationship with a bottle of Grecian 2000, it seems that I have decided to REALLY rebel by signing up for an OU degree. However, with nothing much to distinguish my intellect from that of a couple of bits of old two by four, it struck me that it might be a good idea to prepare myself for further education by trying to blow some of the cobwebs away from the former education I had completely forgotten about.
Maths seemed like the perfect place to start although, it's fair to say, I approached this work initially the way a member of the Bomb Squad might size up a suspect package. Then again, if you're going to embrace education in all of its forms then, at some stage, you're going to find yourself embracing a subject that's about as cuddly as Rosa Klebb... and that's Maths, no question about it.
Actually, you know, that's really not quite fair. In Chris Waring's hands, Maths is nowhere near as horrific as it always seemed. It's actually, dare I say it, logical and - depending upon how drunk you are - even fairly enjoyable!
Maybe that's because he uses humour in his dealings with it? Or maybe it's because he knows he's got to go out of his way to paint this subject in an attractive and comprehensible sort of light? Or maybe it's because the aim of a book like this is to take you steadily through things in an orderly manner, rather than to force you to attempt (and then probably make a complete hash of) endless pages of problems that don't seem to have any relevance to real life?
Perhaps it's just that Mr Waring is always happy to go at your sort of pace, as opposed to giving you a detention for being a thicko and then launching a high-velocity piece of chalk in your direction.
Most impressively, he doesn't undo all his good work by forcing you to complete any kind of test at the end of the book. In fact, he doesn't ask you to do any sort of Maths yourself at any stage. That's genius really, because it takes the pressure completely off the reader. When viewed as a book ABOUT Maths rather than a Maths BOOK, it suddenly becomes far less intimidating.
Eight different topics (Arithmetic, Fractions, Probability, Statistics, Measurements, Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry) are given the chance to redeem themselves. Some of them rattle along at quite a pace but Mr Waring never loses sight of the fact that he is effectively the PR man for education's answer to Hannibal Lecter and so, very sensibly, he won't ever leave the two of you on your own.
As a non-threatening, understanding and encouraging way of getting on more friendly terms with secondary school Maths, this book doesn't go too far wrong.
on 27 June 2012
Bought this book because I am interested in working things out and to see how others work differently to me to achieve the same result. Maths was a badly taught subject for me at school and I ended up teaching myself the practical maths that I use in DIY etc. This book is a useful aid to unravelling some of the more unintelligioble features of maths. Some of the "ways of thinking" about a problem, or visualising it, dont fit what I do but that doesnt matter. It just proves that there are as many ways of doing something as there are people trying to do it. The result is the important thing. The book is entertaining and I am only part way through it so far
on 10 November 2011
It must be the would-be-Geek in me, but I was annoyed that I couldn't remember how to do quadratic equations or divide fractions or, more commonly, couldn't remember how to show the growth of something in percentage points. My friends have asked why I would even care, but it did bug me. But I'm bugged no more - this book is great with a simple, clear approach that explains how to do all these things and much, much more. For someone who doesn't usually pick up anything more taxing than a novel or the Sunday Times Supplement, this has become this week's bedtime reading. Now I'm sure Miss Lloyd (my maths teacher) would never have dreamt that was possible.
I may have to work my way through some of the other titles in the series, starting with the English Grammar book. Now, how do I parse a sentence?...