I’m an avid reader and enjoy trading recommendations. This page lists and links to some of my favorite books and articles, sorted loosely into the following categories:
- Education (math education and reaching broader audiences)
- History of Math
- General History
- Fiction (various flavors of suspense novels)
- Studying Students Studying Calculus: A Look at the Lives of Minority Mathematics Students in College by Uri Treisman: Treisman, as a Berkeley graduate student, was working to improve the introductory calculus course. He noticed that minority students – even those with high SAT math scores – were disproportionately struggling. He and his team literally followed students to better understand what was going on. It’s an inspiring and relevant article for any educator.
- Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do by Claude M. Steele: This book summarizes a vast body of research on how stereotypes impact performance. It describes the clever and fascinating experiments driving that research. Of particular note to academics: a considerable amount of the book is devoted to revealing concrete strategies to reduce the impact of stereotype threats in classrooms.
- A Mathematician’s Lament by Paul Lockhart: This article does a wonderful job of explaining why so many mathematicians find stifling about the K-12 math curriculum. It’s also just bitingly funny.
- The New Math and Midcentury American Politics by Christopher Phillips: This article shows how politics can interface with math education in surprisingly substantial ways. New Math’s trajectory is also strikingly similar to Common Core’s, as are the respective critiques (the critiques link is satirical).
History of Math
- The Emergence of Probability by Ian Hacking: Probability is a fascinating field of math because it first started to emerge so recently. Hacking studies questions like “how does a field of math emerge” and “what factors in society shape how math develops.”
- Mathematics in America: The First Hundred Years by Judy Grabiner: A punchy article and a brilliant work of social history. Judy presents a vivid depiction of what it took for America to develop a mathematical research community.
- Alan Turing: His Work and Impact edited by S. Barry Cooper and Jan van Leeuwen and The Turing Guide by Jack Copeland et. al.: One of the most fun courses I ever ran was a week-long seminar with the sole goal of getting to know Alan Turing. These two volumes provide an abundance of material! For an accessible starting point, consider Turing’s wonderful article Computing Machinery and Intelligence.
- The Great Cat Massacre: And Other Episodes in French Cultural History by Robert Darnton: Darnton seeks to understand how the average French-person thought during the Enlightenment. His answer is a fascinating book where you can see the historian in play.
- Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 by Pauline Maier: The story of how how The U.S. Constitution came into existence (and how its passage was anything but inevitable). It’s 613 pages, but it’ll fly by like any suspenseful novel. Also included: quotes from Hamilton and brilliant orators, dirty political tactics, and the 10 toasts to which George Washington celebrated ratification at a stag party.
- Fall of Giants by Ken Follett: This book kicks of an historical fiction trilogy and is set throughout World War I. I wish I read it while taking European History – it beautifully ties history into a suspenseful work of fiction. Follett has a similar trilogy beginning with A Column of Fire that is perhaps more engaging and equally rich historically.
- The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming: a suspenseful spy novel set in beautiful Cambridge!
- Red Rising by Pierce Brown: Fast-paced science fiction. By the middle of this book, I was hooked enough to binge read it and the sequels over an embarrassingly short period.
- Deal Breaker by Harlan Coben: This book kicks off the Myron Bolitar series. It was my favorite series growing up, and one that I still love to return to. These books are just plain fun!