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Saturday Night Reading List

Via the Math Foreum, Lillian Seese, Math Professor at Louis Community College in Kirkwood (MO), asked: "Can anyone provide me with some advice? I am in a book club where everyone but me is either an English teacher or a librarian. It is my turn to recommend a novel for us to read. A year ago I chose The Housekeeper and the Professor (by Yoko Ogawa) which had just enough math in it to keep everyone interested. I'd love to come up with a book that has a little math in it again this year, but I'm coming up empty handed. Does anyone have a suggestion?"

Though I tend to lurk quiety on most listserves, I chose to respond to Prof. Seese by recommending the following, all historical novels involving mathematicians and/or mathematics....

  • Abbott, E. (1880). Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (or I. Stewart's annotated version.)
  • Clarke, A. & Pohl, F. (2008). The Last Theorem. New York: Ballantine Books.
  • Doxiadis, G. (2001). Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture: A Novel of Mathematical Obsession. New York: Bloomsbury.
  • Guedi, D. (2002). The Parrot's Theorem: A Novel. New York: St. Martin's Press.
  • Enzensberger, H. (2000). The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure. New York: Holt Paperbacks.
  • Infeld, L. (1948). Whom the Gods Love. Reston (VA): NCTM. (about Galois)
  • Leavitt, D. (2007). The Indian Clerk. New York: Bloomsbury. (about Ramanujan)
  • Lethbridge, L. (2004). Ada Lovelace: Computer Wizard of Victorian England. London: Short Books.
  • Longfellow, K. (2009). Flow Down Like Silver: Hypatia of Alexandria. Belvedere (CA): Eio Books.
  • Neville, K. (1988). The Eight. New York: Ballantine.
  • Persinger, P. (2008). Do the Math: A Novel of the Inevitable. New York: IUniverse,
  • Petsinis, T. (1997). The French Mathematician. New York: Walker & Company. (about Galois)
  • Rosen, S. (1958). Galileo and The Magic Numbers. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.
  • Rosenthal, E. (1986). The Calculus of Murder. New York: St. Martin's Press.
  • Sangalli, A. (2009). Pythagorasí Revenge: A Mathematical Mystery. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Spicci, J. (2002). Beyond the Limit. New York: Tom Doherty Associates Book. (about Kovalevskaya)
  • Stephenson, N. (2002). Cryptonomicon. New York: Avon.
  • Stephenson, N. (2005). The Baroque Cycle (3 volumes). New York: William Morrow.
  • Stephenson, N. (2008). Anathem. New York: William Morrow.
  • Suri, G. and Bal, H. (2004). A Certain Ambiguity: A Mathematical Novel Princeton (NJ) Princeton University Press.
  • Trent, B. (2006). Remembering Hypatia: A Novel of Ancient Egypt. New York: iUniverse.
  • Woolfe, S. (1996). Leaning Towards Infinity. New York: Vintage Books. (about Frances Montrose)
What would you recommend? Please send other texts that should be added to this list....and happy reading!

Note: If this is too short of a list, please consult Alex Kasman's Math-Fiction website.