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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
* 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.