• Alex's Adventures in Numberland

  • Dispatches from the Wonderful World of Mathematics
  • By: Alex Bellos
  • Narrated by: Alex Bellos
  • Length: 12 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 09-01-11
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

Regular price: $20.24

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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

interesting (and ambitious)

What made the experience of listening to Alex's Adventures in Numberland the most enjoyable?

This is a very interesting attempt to make a book on mathematics - a story in a style of

Any additional comments?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nichiless
  • 12-09-11

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.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Trevor
  • 04-16-12

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.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Martin Davidson
  • 04-14-13

Fascinating listen

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ian
  • 04-12-12

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Stephen J
  • 03-14-18

Too much info !!

I tried reading the actual book and gave up .... but listening to the audio book was more bearable because I can other things at the same time, and listen again to the rare parts I find interesting!!
As usual though Audible’s lack of naming the chapters or even getting the chapter numbers in their list to tally with the audio makes review difficult.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ryan Law
  • 01-25-18

Fascinating

I am in no way a maths student.
Having dropped the subject at an early age I thought this book might be a bit much.
BUT
This book is so well packed with stuff it's extremely interesting.

The failure of most books in this line is the ratio of fluff to interesting information (see algorithms to live by) but this book did not suffer in this way.

I fell asleep listening to it (don't let this out you off I just read at night a lot) and the next morning when trying to find my place searched chapter 8, then 7, then 6. It was only after searching further I find it in chapter 2!. The author had gone through so much I compared it to the halfway mark in most books.

That said it does get extremely heavy and difficult at times (the author warns you of this at the start) which I can't criticize really because when in reading a subject I know a lot about my criticism is usually that it's too simple.

You will benefit from getting the print version though as there's only so much of a diagram or formula you can describe verbally and like I said a lot of this gets confusing.

Overall lots of fun, top marks on all fronts. Can't wait to see if there's a follow up

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • critical friend
  • 09-19-17

Enthusiastic explanation of life and maths

What did you like most about Alex's Adventures in Numberland?

The painless way in which the relevance of numbers and maths to life was explained with passion, enthusiasm and knowledge. Seeing the patterns and connections in numbers is beautiful, yet much is relevant to life in understanding probability and our own perceptions.

What did you like best about this story?

Logical and clear. Links and clear breaks made obvious with history, psychology and personalities thrown in.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The explanation of probability and the relevance to gambling and calculating odds with advice on strategy to not lose too much.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I did and I did!

Any additional comments?

Normally suspicious of books narrated by the author, but his passion and pleasure in numbers came through without sounding boastful or condescending. Enjoyed when he put himself in the story e.g. when discussing numerology.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Nicholas
  • 06-22-12

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • PAUL C.
  • 02-20-18

That's numberwang

could have listened to this forever.an excellent book about numbers and number related useful things

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Nathan
  • 08-13-17

enjoyable, if not particularly deep

if you have the equivalent of a maths and possibly further maths A level, the latter chapters do not hold too much for you, but if you do have a maths and further maths A level, then you have likely taken a lot of the things in the early chapters for granted. its not going to give you any really deep insights, but its fun and will make you think a bit

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-15-18

The best audiobook I've heard so far

This is the 5th audiobook I've purchased , and is by far the best one. The enthusiasm in Alex's voice is evidence of a great author and communicator. He makes each chapter a pleasure to listen too. I wish more audiobook narrators were as good as him.

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  • Tom Saleeba
  • 02-15-16

Excellent! Really enjoyed it

Alex presents really interesting information and does some great accents to keep it interesting. I highly recommend this book.

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  • Mindy
  • 09-21-15

Loved It!

I'm a math major and tutor kids in math and I loved this book! It was interesting on so many levels and I enjoyed learning about the history of mathematics in different cultures and applications of mathematical principles. It gave a lot of context to many things learned and loved in math.