The world of maths can seem mind-boggling, irrelevant and, let's face it, boring. This groundbreaking book reclaims maths from the geeks. Mathematical ideas underpin just about everything in our lives: from the surprising geometry of the 50p piece to how probability can help you win in any casino.
In search of weird and wonderful mathematical phenomena, Alex Bellos travels across the globe and meets the world's fastest mental calculators in Germany and a startlingly numerate chimpanzee in Japan.
Packed with fascinating, eye-opening anecdotes, Alex's Adventures in Numberland is an exhilarating cocktail of history, reportage, and mathematical proofs that will leave you awestruck. Shortlisted for the 2010 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction.
©2010 Alex Bellos (P)2011 Audible Ltd
"Original and highly entertaining." (Sunday Times)
"Will leave you hooked on numbers." (Daily Telegraph)
"A page turner about humanity's strange, never easy and, above all, never dull relationship with numbers." (New Scientist)
This is a very interesting attempt to make a book on mathematics - a story in a style of
Although I am all in favour of math books without formulae, sometimes just a bare minimum is needed to illustrate a point. But how does one do it in an audio book? I found it a bit hard to follow some of the examples. Simple ones I could manage by drawing in my head, but with more complex ones I got quickly lost.
"A wonderful journey through mathematics"
Although unstructured (the reader/listener can select chapters in any order) this is a wonderful journey through the history of number and mathematics. The high points are when the author describes those 'Eureka' moments when, after a great deal of struggle, it all seems to make so much sense. Alex Bellos also brings the key figures vividly to life, and the travelogue style really assists in the listeners understanding of some fundamental ideas and sequences. The narration, by the author, works for me. As an aside, I did also purchase the hardback and used the audio for my daily commute (a revision session, if you like). Overall a very worthwhile and highly rewarding read. This could well become an important book.
"Maths as an audiobook - does it work ?"
It certainly did for me. Not only is the subject matter very interesting, there are no difficult equations in here, probably pythagoras being the most complex, or even the equation of a circle. But even then you do not need to work with them, just listen as he uses them to illustrate some astonishing things.
This rekindled much from my graduate days, and leaves you thinking - if only I had known that then.
Some chapters could be easily expanded to be books in their own right and I hope the author revisits the subjects of probability and odds in regard casino gambling, or the golden ratio and goes into greater depth.
You don't need the paper version of this, but if they did do an illustrated version it would be worth owning, as the history unravelled is new and refreshing. Its not just about the history of maths and mathematicians, but about human nature and how numbers and number systems came into being that really make you think.
"BUT THE LAST CHAPTER IS MISSING"
the ebook version (which also has the advantage of diagrams etc) also has a final chapter - Chapter 11 the end of the line
"Good, but needs the diagrams"
I fell in love with this book; it's a brilliant journey through the surface of the world of maths and is very likely to change the way you feel about geometry, luck, statistics and baguettes. The author's narration is good and never loses your attention, my only criticism is that, without the numerous diagrams that exist in the book version, quite a lot is lost in translation. The beauty of Euclidian or the Fibonaci spiral are impossible to describe, but he does his best.
I have a degree in Maths, but this is in no way essential (I only got a third anyway! ). I have always enjoyed Maths and this brings the subject to life, with interesting anecdotes from the history of Maths and covers a wide range of Mathematical ideas, including geometry, game theory, statistics and the origin of the counting systems we use today. Alex Bellos's enthusiasm for the subject comes across in the narration and helps to make the listen all the more enjoyable. Even if you aren't a big fan of maths, you will find something that will spark your interest. I have already listened to it twice and writing this makes me want to listen again.
"Warning : when a writers reads his own work"
It's a shame as others have said, a potentially good listen was ruined by an "ok" narration by the author
"Your numbers up!"
Wasn't sure how well a math book would work in audio but for the most part it really does. Alex does a great job of explaining concepts in an easy to relate to manor and even when sometimes perhaps a diagram or equation he manages to get the idea across usually with the help of a nice example. I also particularly enjoyed the chapters which looked at how we as humans relate to numbers, which is a real theme of the book and makes it more than just a glorified maths textbook. Really enjoyable listen, if you have even just a casual interest in the world of numberland then it's a must!
"Still puzzled, but I now want to know more"
B plus, verging on A minus, for this. I wanted to know why mathematics are interesting, and I found out - which is amazing considering that my school gave up trying to teach me when I was 12.
Pythagoras was probably my favourite character; I failed to follow the hero of Vedic Math through the forest of Numberland. But this book is full of good stories.
Enthusiastic, geeky, too fast with some of the calculations.
At last, you'll learn to love math.
I'm less than half way through chapter 4, and getting seriously lost in the numbers. I intend to give up and go back to it later this year with a pencil and paper so that I can work out what Alex means - I followed most of the first chapters.
"I'm not mathematical but..."
Because I'm not mathematical, I liked to "see inside" the mind of a mathematician.
All the various characters Alex introduces us to.
There was a German prodigy in there somewhere, and the slide rule guy from Braintree.
Sort of. I listened to it at every available opportunity. Just re-listened to the free sample and it's made me want to listen to it again.
I was a LITTLE insulted when quite early in the book Alex said something along the lines of "but if you weren't mathematical you wouldn't be listening to this".. which is a bit like saying "If you're not a murderer you wouldn't be listening to a murder mystery" (I do not by choice listen to murder mysteries).
He sounds very down to earth - almost Cockney - it's not a voice I'd associate with a mathematical person. I'd expected him to sound more like Robert Peston.. When I later heard Alex speaking on the radio it felt really weird.. "That's Alex Bellos - what's he doing on the radio?!" As if he were a relative or someone that only I knew - not public property!
"One of the best audiobooks I've listened to"
This book is narrated by the author himself. This is what makes it so great. It is constantly engaging and the narrator reads it with true understanding.
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