The Joy of Mathematics : Discovering Mathematics All Around You, Paperback

The Joy of Mathematics : Discovering Mathematics All Around You Paperback

2.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


Part of the joy of mathematics is that it is everywhere-in soap bubbles, electricity, da Vinci's masterpieces, even in an ocean wave.

Written by the well-known mathematics teacher consultant, this volume's collection of over 200 clearly illustrated mathematical ideas, concepts, puzzles, and games shows where they turn up in the "real" world.

You'll find out what a googol is, visit hotel infinity, read a thorny logic problem that was stumping them back in the 8th century.

THE JOY OF MATHEMATICS is designed to be opened at randomit's mini essays are self-contained providing the reader with an enjoyable way to explore and experience mathematics at its best."


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 245 pages, illustrations
  • Publisher: Wide World Publishing,U.S.
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Mathematics
  • ISBN: 9780933174658



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Review by

Theoni Pappas’ main purpose of this book is to spread her joy of mathematics and it tries to get an average person to see how beautiful math is. The book has the characteristics of a concept book. Although it is not designed for young students, it contains a variety of mathematical topics for the reader to explore. Each topic is usually on 1-2 pages, however, there are a few topics that take up more than 2 pages. The book does not explicitly state and define vocabulary words, however this book does build more advanced mathematical vocabulary for the reader. For example, when the book is talking about the Fibonacci sequence it explains how the numbers are found and it also where this is useful in real life. I will say, that a major flaw with this book is that the reader has to have some mathematical knowledge in order to understand the book. The second topic is about Pythagorean’s Theorem and the author assumes that the reader knows what a right triangle is and what a leg of a right triangle is. Unless the reader understands what these are, they will not be able to understand how Pythagorean’s Theorem works.Another feature of the book that I think is flawed is the Organization of the book. Although I feel there is not much structure and organization to this book, the author does attempt to use a simple to complex method to organize the book. However, I feel that topics and ideas are spread throughout the book randomly. One example of this can be shown through the Fibonacci sequence. The author has three chapters that deal with this sequence, however they are nowhere near each other. The first one is on page 28, the second on page 51 and the last one is all the way on page 222. Although these can all be related to one another, they are spread throughout the book. The book is not in alphabetical order, it is not in chronological order since the chapter on Isaac Newton and Calculus comes before the chapter on the number zero. The chapters are not grouped together by topics. For example, a chapter about hexagons in nature is followed by a chapter that talks about what a googol is. The only way this book is organized is from simpler concepts to more difficult concepts. This way of organizing the book makes it very hard for the reader to find a certain concept that he or she may be looking for. Along with the poor organization of the book is the poor table of contents. Although the book does have a very detailed table of contents, it has too much and is way to long. The table of contents has about 150-200 different chapters for which it is nearly impossible to find what the reader is looking for. Since the organization of the book is in no particular order, the reader can only scroll through the entire table of contents until they find a particular topic. Overall, the table of contents is way to long and a very bland and does not serve the purpose of a table of contents. The best way to find a certain topic in this book is through the index in the back of the book. This index is in alphabetical order and greatly enhances the book. The reader can look up a specific topic very easily and find out what page the topic is on. Although the index does not contain any visual text, it is a very detailed index. For example, if the reader wanted to look up prime numbers, they could find prime numbers in two places in the index. It is located as a subheading under numbers and it also has it’s own place under prime numbers. Overall, the index is very well organized and greatly helps the reader navigate in this book.Another great feature of this book is the Appendix. Throughout the book, the author encourages the reader to try problems on their own, and she provides the answers to the problems in the Appendix. For example, under the section of 1=2?, the author provides a proof that shows that the number 1 equals the number 2. However, there is a flaw in the proof and the reader is encouraged to find the flaw and she states that the answer is in the Appendix. She allows the readers to think for themselves and try to solve the problem, but still provides the answer in the Appendix.Some other features of the book are an introduction, a bibliography and a lot of photos and illustrations. The introduction is very short and just explains what the author’s purpose of the book is. The bibliography is very detailed and contains a lot of very good sources where the author got the content for the book. She explains, that the bibliography does not contain every single source because the list would be too long, however she lists plenty of resources. The photos of the book can be very helpful for some concepts. For example, the pictures that go along with the Golden Ration section do a nice job in helping explain the concepts. Also, when talking about The Spiral of Archimedes, the book actually has an illustration of one of these spirals, which is nice for the reader to actually visually see what the text is talking about in this chapter. I am shocked that the book does not contain a further reading section. The author is trying to get the reader to become interested in mathematical topics, and she does this by scraping the surface of topics, however she does not provide the reader with additional resources in which they can expand their knowledge. I feel the book could greatly benefit from a further readings section. It does contain a page of other texts written by the same author, but these have nothing to do with expanding knowledge from this particular book. I also feel that this book could benefit from the use of a pronunciation guide. There are certain words in this book that the average reader would not know how to pronounce and the book never explains the proper way to say words. For example, the book talks about quipus. The average reader, even someone who knows a lot about mathematics probably has no idea how to pronounce the word quipu. It could be beneficial to assist the reader and show the reader how the word sounds. There are also a lot of names in the book in which the reader may need help pronouncing. Al-Khowavizmi is an example of a name that the reader may not know how to pronounce properly. The last major flaw of this novel is that it lacks a proper introduction and conclusion. The author does have her short introduction where she states the purpose of the book, but she never provides a conclusion. Instead, the book just ends with talking about spiders and spirals and then goes into the Appendix and then the bibliography. She never provides a conclusion to the entire book. The best part about this book is the content and how accurate the book was. Although it was written in the late 1980’s, the book’s content is very accurate and she provides a lot of sources. I am cautious that the author only has degrees in the arts (B.A. and M.A.) and none in the sciences, however she clearly utilized her sources. The bibliography has a lot of sources and she does state how she was not able to include all of her sources because it would take up too much space. Although the content is not organized clearly, it is very detailed and accurate.After reading this book, I would not recommend that it be put in the UNO library. The book does contain a very positive conversational tone. The author will tell the reader “Good Luck!” when trying to solve problems, or asking questions like “How many elements would you say are in the sets below.” I think this works well for younger audiences and it would be the only book in the library that talks about this high level mathematics and the benefits and the joy of them. However, overall the book is outdated and not organized very well. I personally would use the novel to read on my own and spark my own personal interests. However, I cannot see myself using this book in my high school classroom with my students. It’s not a very exciting book for anyone who really does not like mathematics. I feel that there are other newer and more exciting options for the UNO library. Another option may be the book “A Cultural Paradox: Fun in Mathematics” by Jeffery A. Zilahy. This book is newer and tries to make mathematics fun by relating to todays society. It seems more colorful and also a book that students can relate to today’s topics. I would use this book to try and hook students on the joy that can come from mathematics.

Review by

Math is all around us. In the physical world and the theoretical world. "Base ten, Pythagorean Theorem, Eratosthenes measures the Earth" are just a few of the topics presented in Pappas' informative book. Even a child who struggles in math would enjoy this book because Pappas talks about the origin of all these facts as well as the mechanics.

Review by

FYI, this won't make you appreciate the joy of math unless you already do. I "liked" math in school, but I guess I don't have a mind for math. This book just gives you a brief description of myriad mathematical marvels such as the patterns, the equivalent of mathematical optical illusions, puzzles, riddles, "fascinating" tricks like "If you take any two numbers, and you do this, then this, then this, isn't it amazing how they eventually turn into a palindrome? " Well, no, actually, I couldn't care less. However, I do recommend this to people have a natural fascination with patterns and riddles (and the history of the number system), but this won't convert any literary-minded person into delighting in math. I haven't given up yet, though. I think I'll find a book that inspires me; there are plenty of them on my to-read list.