Thursday, October 14, 2010

Number Freak: From 1 to 200. The Hidden language of Numbers Revealed by Derrick Niederman

  Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):  What do Fight Club, wallpaper patterns, George Balanchine’s Serenade, and Italian superstitions have in common? They’re all included in the entry for the number 17 in this engaging book about numbers— detailing their unique properties, patterns, appeal, history, and lore.

Author Derrick Niederman takes readers on a guided tour of the numbers 1 to 300—covering everything from basic mathematical principles to ancient unsolved theorems, from sublime theory to delightfully arcane trivia.

And here's what I thought:  I picked up this book from the library because I wanted to keep working on my Hogwarts challenge, and needed something for arithmancy (or math).  Admittedly, math is not my strong suit (I still have anxiety dreams about being stuck in math class).  But, I wanted to find a book that would fulfill the challenge category, and also be something I could understand.   This book was actually pretty interesting, even though some of it went completely over my head.   I learned things like this about the number 87: "The word decimoctoseptology won't be found in any dictionary, but it means the study of the number 87, at least to a handful of practitioners who share the quirky view that 87 is the most random number."  (p. 205)  I don't know if I'd recommend this book as one to read straight through, but it was filled with interesting little facts. 

Cover art:  Slightly Jackson Pollack-esque in composition.  Definitely gets the concept across that the book is about numbers.

First sentence:  "The number 1 is both a logical and a lousy way to start this book.  Logical because 1 comes first, and its omission would seem absurd.  But also lousy, because this book is about special properties of whole numbers, and the number 1 just has too many special properties for its own good."

This book fulfills the Arithmancy portion of my Hogwarts Challenge


vvb32 reads said...

what a fun way to come across this book -your hogwarts challenge. the cover is really intriguing and i would pick this kind of book up to skim and glean bits of trivia. i like it.

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