There are now literally hundreds of ‘popular’ maths books to choose from. The term ‘popular maths’ or ‘popular science’ refers to books which can be enjoyed by people with an interest in the subject, but without any specialist training or degree.
This means popular maths books are perfect for sixth formers who are enthusiastic about maths, but haven’t yet done a degree in the subject. In fact sixth formers are often asked during university interviews about which popular maths books they have read.
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Suggestions of the best Popular Mathematics Books for Sixth Formers
The educational charity MEI has put together a great list of general interest mathematics books. If you search on the web you will also be able to find some other sites which have put together some excellent suggestion lists.
It can be bewildering to choose a favourite book, so we would suggest you try a few and see which ones you like. Why not start off by looking in your library where you will often find some of the most well known popular maths books to choose from.
Why should I bother with General Interest or Popular Maths books at all?
If you love maths, (particularly hard maths!) then why bother reading ‘popular’ maths books which often have to simplify the mathematics involved?
The simple answer is that popular maths books can give you an insight into areas of maths which you haven’t yet got the knowledge to understand. They can also show you the bigger picture and how influential or controversial a piece of mathematics has been, and show you how history has been shaped by mathematical ideas.
For example very few people in the world can understand Andrew Wiles’ proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem, whereas Simon Singh’s popular book on the subject book brought alive this incredible achievement for the general public.
Be sure to explore our list of book reviews by students and pupils.
Article by Hazel Lewis