Reviews

The housekeeper and the professor by Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder A novel translated from the Japanese, where nothing much happens and prime numbers play a central role, may not sound like the most relaxing summer read.
There has been a recent spate of books in honour of Martin Gardner, who has spent over half of his 95 years entertaining us with his recreational mathematics.
If the quest for a physical theory of everything, and some of the strange concepts that have sprung from it, strikes you as somewhat mystical, then this is just the book you need to explore the idea further.
It's not very often that something I read makes me want to jack in my lovely job at Plus and return to study and research. But that is just what happened when reading Sync by Steven Strogatz.
It's not often I get misty-eyed reading a book about mathematics, but that was just what happened when I read this, and several other poems, in the poetry collection Strange Attractors: Poems of love and mathematics.
The Magic Numbers of the Professor revolves around a fictional professor and a huge range of magical numbers. Written in a narrative style, the book documents a series of visits the Professor makes from America to Ireland to visit Owen O'Shea, the author of both this book and a fictional column within the story.
When Number story first landed on my desk I was struck by its prettiness. With its tasteful and slightly old-fashioned cover design, the unusually compact format for a hardback, and the unassuming title, this book clearly isn't desperate for attention. So I was intrigued to find out whether this quiet confidence is justified by its content, and I'm glad to report that it is.
If you are interested in how medieval cathedrals came into being, and the mathematics associated with their architecture and construction, then this book is for you.