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Alex Through the Looking Glass: How Life Reflects Numbers, and Numbers Reflect Life Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Like, seriously, even basic multiplications with single numbers flummox me. But I do like books, and I like stories, and especially stories about people and places and the origins of things. So when someone suggested that I read this book (actually, someone suggested that I read the first book, which I did, and then I bought this second one of my own accord) I was delighted, becauase it delivered on all the things I do like (stories about people, places, and the origins of things), AND it succeeded in making me think that maths wasn't all that bad after all.
Bellos writes in a really friendly, intelligent, warm style. It's often humourous, and very clear when it comes to the maths bits.
It's presented really well - the book looks good on the page with great illustrations and graphs.
I'm still never going to run down the street proclaiming that I love maths, and I confess that I did sometimes skip over the harder maths bits (which pressumably clever maths-lovers will really enjoy) but I would highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in philosphy, history, people - and - mathematics!
The little video on You Tube about why number 7 is special is great too - my daughter even got the maths teacher at school to show it to the class!
The unique feature of this book is that each chapter can be dipped into without having studied previous chapters. Publications on maths often qualify for the “most boring book of the year award”. This book is at the other end of the spectrum , amusing, entertaining and instructive and provides the reader with an excellent overall view of each topic.
So to give one example of the former, stuff about numbers, we have the research which reveals what are our favourite numbers. Apparently, and unsurprisingly, number 7 is the most popular choice, followed by number 3. Hmmm, all very magical. But the world's least loved number is 110! That I could not have guessed. 69 makes the top thirty, but Alex sagely observes: "The appearance of 69 shows that juvenile humour cannot be eliminated from Internet polls". A wry sense of humour runs through the book.
As for the applications to real life the book has so much information that transcends merely mathematics. To take the number 7 as a case in point we learn just how embedded in our world that number is: wonders, deadly sins, ages of man, pillars of wisdom, brides for brothers, seas, samurai and dwarves, as well as Babylonian ziggurats, Egyptian gates to hell, Vedic sun god horses, and walking seven time round the Kaaba during Hajj. Wow!
If I had one criticism of the book, it would be minor. It's that American-style thing that I detect started (although it may have been earlier) with Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point: the tendency to go and visit people who you refer to in the book and to get a description of them which, apparently, is to draw you into the narrative, but has the opposite effect with me.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I would say it is not the type of book which everybody will enjoy, but it is the kind of book that somebody with some mathematical background will. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Héctor C.
This is not a book for mathmaticians, but rather a book about some of the stuff that makes maths so interesting. Read morePublished 6 months ago by N. Tuson
Brilliant - even better than his previous book "Alex in Numberland"Published 7 months ago by Dr Mike Sporton
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