Book Review: How To Be A Math Genius


When I was in high school I loved math. I could not get enough of it.

I got such a thrill out of solving math equations and problems that I even considered attending a summer math camp. But I knew that would not be feasible considering I had a summer job lined up at my father’s sawmill (every summer). My school friends all made fun of me for wanting to go to math camp.

In Grade 11 I decided to take Grade 12 math in one of my spare slots because the optional courses they were providing for Grade 11 students did not appeal to me. And I just did not want to take a spare. I talked with my parents and went ahead with taking Grade 12 math. Looking back it probably wasn’t the wisest decision I had ever made. A whole year of no formal math practice kind of kicked me in the behind when I got to university and I felt a little behind.

Math did not always come easy to me though. In elementary school I remember having an educational assistant help me with counting money. But later on it came a lot easier for me. I even took a college business math class because I just wanted to learn something.

How to be a Math Genius

I saw the book How To Be A Math Genius featured amongst other titles on the DK Canada Facebook page. I made a comment about how neat it would be to read the book and they responded with an offer to send me a copy. I was in seventh heaven! (I know, I am a total math geek.)

How to be a Math Genius

This book is jam packed with math facts and stats. The first chapter takes a look at how our brains deconstruct math problems and what areas of the brain handle various math skills.

If you can hold more than eight numbers in your head, you’ve got a great math brain. – page 16, How To Be A Math Genius

The pages I found most fascinating were the stories of those who made significant discoveries in the subject of mathematics. Particularly women who studied math. Did you know that Hypatia, born approximately around 355 CE, studied the way a cone could be cut to produce different types of curves? She was apparently murdered because some people found her ideas threatening.

How to be a Math Genius

Another famous mathematician that I have always found intriguing was Pythagoras. When taking math classes I loved using the famous theorem named after him, the Pythagorean theorem. We all remember a2 + b2 = c2 from math class right? The theorem states that in a right-angled triangle, the square of the hypotenuse (the longest side, opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. Pythagoras also started his own school for those who wanted to study math as well as religion and mysticism. However, being a member meant you needed to follow some very odd rules such as “let no swallows nest in your eaves” or “eat no beans.” It is thought that Pythagoras may have committed suicide because another mathematician was trying to prove Pythagoras’ theory that all numbers were rational was incorrect.

Throughout the entire book you will also find many puzzles and problems to solve. Many of these puzzles had me in deep concentration and made me wonder if I was indeed a math genius like I thought (I am no math genius, I just think I am sometimes). Thank goodness the answers to all the problems are provided at the end of book. If you are like me, you may peek every once in a while to check to see if you were on the right track in finding the problem’s solution.

A man built a rectangular house with all four sides facing south. One morning he looked out of the window and spotted a bear. What colour was it? – page 35, How To Be A Math Genius

I loved the little tips and tricks that were provided to readers in How To Be A Math Genius. These sure would have come in handy while I was in school. Here are a few neat ones:

– A number is divisible by 6 if it’s divisible by 3 and the last digit is even

– To quickly multiply by 4, simply double the number and then double it again.

– If you need to square a two-digit number that ends in 5, just multiply the first digit by itself plus 1, then put 25 on the end.

Other topics of interest include shapes, mapping, probability, breaking codes, and algebra.

How to be a Math Genius

There is so much information inside this book that it is somewhat overwhelming. It is definitely a book that you need to take a few days to get through. You will not read it in one sitting (unless you truly are a math genius).

The book is geared towards adolescents between the ages of 10-14 years. I can see why as many of the problems were even difficult for me to figure out a points. I thought I would be able to share this book with my 8 year old as he excels in math but I will hold off for a little while and check it out when he more prepared.

If you take particular interest in the study of mathematics, I would highly recommend this book to you. It is so interesting you will be entertained for hours on end.

To learn more about How To Be A Math Genius, please visit the DK Canada website. Be sure to follow DK Canada on Facebook and Twitter for exciting news and information on recently published items!

* I apologize for the glare on the included photos. The quality of the picture with the flash was much better than without use of the flash.

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the book How To Be A Math Genius for review purposes. The opinions expressed in the above review are my own and completely honest. 

Brandy Reid is a stay at home mom to two very active and hockey obsessed boys. As a former YA librarian, Brandy loves to read and is obsessed with reading everyday whether it be books or blogs. Brandy proudly admits that she is a wee bit addicted to social media, especially Twitter. She also believes that everything in life you can related to the iconic TV Show Friends. No day is complete without chocolate.


  1. Jenn
    October 29, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    Lol I loved math too…until I hit calculus! Then I didn’t get it at all!!! This looks like a cool book! A good way to get boys interested in math without they realizing it! lol!

    • Brandy
      October 30, 2013 at 1:29 PM

      I tried calculus in university and it was tough! I only made it to the midterm (which I completed) but I heard after the midterm, things got worse!

  2. Crystal
    October 29, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    I did NOT love math in school and am kind of dreading it all again as my daughter moves up in school each year! I think I could use this book ;)

    • Brandy
      October 30, 2013 at 1:30 PM

      What scares me is that they learn techniques so much earlier than we did. I am hoping it all comes back to me when my kids need help in math.

  3. Margarita Ibbott ~ @DownshiftingPRO
    October 29, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    I am going to have to look into this book both my DD & DS love math and are always up for a challenge. Thanks for the great review and don’t worry about the glare. It is just happens ;)

    • Brandy
      October 30, 2013 at 1:31 PM

      My oldest is already interested in this book. So, I passed it along even though it may be a wee bit over his head for a while. He loves challenges too.

  4. Jonnie
    October 29, 2013 at 7:42 PM

    This sounds like a really useful book. I like that it has puzzles, facts and tips. It looks like it would really hold my oldest son’s interest (he’s 13)!

    • Brandy
      October 30, 2013 at 1:32 PM

      The facts really sucked me in. I loved learning all of the neat ones.

  5. Heather, Mmm... is for Mommy
    October 29, 2013 at 8:47 PM

    This book looks great! My friend is a Jr. High Math Teacher, I’m going to pass this on to her… her kids would love it!

    • Brandy
      October 30, 2013 at 1:32 PM

      Awesome! As a math teacher, she would really love it.

  6. jodi shaw
    October 29, 2013 at 9:28 PM

    I’m so bad at math but this looks like tons of fun actually :)

    • Brandy
      October 30, 2013 at 1:33 PM

      It is fun (says the math geek). hehe! And if you are bad at math, this could be the book that helps you like it more.

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