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Mathematical Stories

The field of mathematics currently is getting a great amount of attention from the popular media, especially in the form of plays (e.g. Proof), movies (e.g. A Beautiful Mind), and television shows (e.g. Numb3rs). The public's impression is that this is a "new" phenomena, with many people asking why would anyone even think of writing a novel or play about mathematics.

Compiled by Alex Kasman, a mathematics professor at the College of Charleston, this great website documents the long history of mathematical fiction, and provides a wealth of more than 500 sources--novels, plays, movies, TV shows--that involve mathematics. It is a great place to find resources for students to read as part of a mathematics class, and lessen some of the perceived staleness. Also, interesting classroom discussions can be generated, as many of the resources reflect public perceptions and/or sterotypes of mathematics, mathematicians, and the uselfulness of either.

It is important to add that, though fictional, many of the resources can teach some mathematics. For example, suppose your topic involved the properties of a Mobius Strip. As either pre- or post- reading, I suggest two age-old favorites included in Kasman's list--Martin Gradner's "No-Sided Professor" (1946) or William Upson's "Paul Bunyan versus the Conveyor Belt" (1949). And, his list contains six more entries!

Source: Mathematical Fiction link