I am a freshman at a local university. I never really had much passion for math, but I always did well in math exams . I attribute this lack of passion to rote learning/emphasis on methods/formulas than philosophy behind those methods that is so common in Indian education system.

My question is what are the journals/fiction can I read for fun that can inspire passion and excitement. I perused through math journals like American Mathematical Monthly in my uni's library, but I found them to be way too complicated for me.


There's the classic "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter. I won't try to give you a description or synopsis (as you can find countless others on the internet), but it's worthwhile to say the least. Long, and at times difficult, but worthwhile.

There are recent graphic novels about the lives of Bertrand Russell and Richard Feynman (respectively "Logicomix" and "Feynmann") that are more biographies than mathematics, but still very good reads.

There's also no shortage of recreational mathematics written by the late Martin Gardner. Gardner used to write a column called "Mathematical Games" in Scientific American. These can be found compiled into numerous anthologies.

There's one called "The Mathematical Experience" that gives insight into how mathematicians think, and what research mathematics actually consists of.

Finally, there's the short work of fiction "Flatland" which will take no more than an afternoon to read, but is another classic.

EDIT: I can also recommend the Orthogonal series by Greg Egan. These are science-fiction stories set in a universe with physics different than ours; among other things, light travels at varying speeds depending on its frequency. Again, these are sci-fi, and not mathematics, but Egan does a very good job of detailing and explaining the physics he creates, and sees-through their consequences in a manner that is very satisfying to a scientific mind.


Some books that I enjoyed when I became interested in mathematics were

"Concepts of Modern Mathematics" by Ian Stewart

"A Mathematicians Lament" by Paul Lockhart

"Innumeracy" by John Allen Pauls

"A Mathematicians Apology" By G.H. Hardy

"The Divine Proportion" by H.E. Huntley

"How to Solve It" by George Polya

"What is Mathematics" by Richard Courant

"The Man Who Loved only Numbers" by Paul Hoffman

"Number" by Tobias Dantzig

"Letters to a Young Mathematician" by Ian Stewart

"Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities" by Ian Stewart

"Professor Stewart's Hoard of Mathematical Treasures" by Ian Stewart.

There are many more great books on the subject of mathematics, its history and its philosophy. If you want more just let me know. One of the best ways to get inspired is to find problems that genuinely interest you. Try to solve them by playing around with them and trying various approaches.


The books of Simon Singh are fantastic, particularly Fermat's Last Theorem. Try'm :)


There are many good books and resources posted here, especially those that Ross posted. I'd also add Journey Through Genius which is a good read. Any good Mathematics history tome, like Stillwell's Yearning for the Impossible and Mathematics and its History are excellent reads. So is John Katz's History of Mathematics.

I might also recommend Math Wonders to Inspire Teachers and Students by Alfred Posamentier as a good read as well. If you're feeling a bit more mathematically ambitious, Proofs from THE BOOK by Ainger and Ziegler is also a fantastic book showing many viewpoints and proofs of some fundamental theorems in Mathematics.


I would also add books from Raymond M. Smullyan as well (especially What is the name of this book? and The Lady or the Tiger?) for some recreational logic puzzles. They might also be useful as a pre-read before Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach, as it's a bit easier to understand most of the times.


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