## Posts tagged ‘books’

### Math in Great Literature

I’ve been reading a lot recently. And not just math books. In fact, I just finished reading a book on antigravity — I couldn’t put it down.

Though the books I’ve been reading are known as great literature, they have a lot of great math, too. From Lewis Carroll, we have the following gem…

The four branches of arithmetic are ambition, distraction, uglification, and derision.

But let’s not forget about A. A. Milne, who didn’t write the following joke based on improper logical thinking, though he easily could have…

Winnie the Pooh and Piglet receive a box from Eeyore. In the box are 10 sweets and a note. The note says that they are to divide the sweets evenly — 7 for Pooh, and 7 for Piglet. “How is that possible?” asks Piglet.

“I don’t know,” replies Pooh. “I don’t even want to think about it. But I’ve already eaten my 7 sweets.”

And speaking of that tubby, little cubby all stuffed with fluff…

What is Winnie the Pooh’s favorite math subject?

Tiggernometry.

### What are Your 10 Favorite Math Books?

Today is October 10, which seems a great day to talk about Top Ten lists.

(Incidentally, today is also National Metric Day, for what I hope are obvious reasons. But I won’t publish a post about metrication today; I did that last year.)

Several years ago, J. Peder Zane asked 125 American and British authors to list their 10 favorite works of fiction. He then aggregated the lists and formed the Top 10 Books of All Time.

Perhaps you’ve heard of some of them…

*Anna Karenina*by Leo Tolstoy*Madame Bovary*by Gustave Flaubert*War and Peace*by Leo Tolstoy*Lolita*by Vladimir Nabokov*The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn*by Mark Twain*Hamlet*by William Shakespeare*The Great Gatsby*byF. Scott Fitzgerald*In Search of Lost Time*by Marcel Proust*The Stories of Anton Chekhov*by Anton Chekhov*Middlemarch*by George Eliot

You can also see the authors’ individual lists at Top 10 Books of All Time.

But how sad — not a single math book on the list! Where is *Flatland*, or *Gödel, Escher, Bach*, or *Riot at the Calc Exam*?

In an attempt to give math literature — be it fiction, non-fiction, humor or otherwise — its proper credit, I hope to compile a list of the **Top Ten Math Books of All Time**. You can contribute to this effort by submitting your favorite math books through the form below. I won’t compile a list until I have at least 100 responses, but then I’ll publish it at http://www.mathjokes4mathyfolks.com/toptenmathbooks.pdf. Afterwards, I’ll update the list periodically as more responses come in.

If you aren’t able to see the form below, go to the Top 10 Math Books Survey.

And your reward for participating? A humorous Top Ten list for you…

**Top Ten Things That Math and Sex Have in Common**

- Explicit discussions of either topic is a faux pas at cocktail parties.
- Historically, men have been in control, but recent efforts have tried to get women more involved.
- There are many joint results.
- Both are prominent on college campuses, and are typically — but not always — practiced indoors.
- Most people wish they knew more about both subjects.
- Both can produce interesting topology and geometry.
- Both deserve undivided attention, but mathematicians are prone to thinking about one while doing the other.
- Saint Augustine was hostile to both, and Alan Turing took an unusual approach to both.
- Both typically begin with a lot of hard work and end with a great but brief reward.
- Professionals are generally regarded with suspicion, and most do not earn a high salary.