Alex’s Adventures in Numberland – Alex Bellos

Rating: 9/10

Alex’s Adventures in wonderland conveys the fascinating beauty of mathematics in an accessible, entertaining way. The book is aimed at a general audience – no specialised mathematical knowledge is needed, yet it would still entertain and inform a mathematician.

Like the title suggests, this book is a journey through the world of maths – a journey I highly recommend you take. Bellos explores the history of mathematics, analysing how numbers and counting developed. He describes the Munduruku people, who live in the Brazilian Amazon and only have words to count up to five. He analyses what numbers actually mean to people, and to animals such as apes.

The book consists of eleven chapters, each discussing a different topic, such as counting, probability, sequences, geometry and infinity. He weaves anecdotes, entertaining stories and images into his explanation of the maths. He combines maths and history with his own experiences travelling the world and meeting some of the most fascinating people in mathematics in an enthralling way. I could not put this book down while reading it, in no place was it stodgy, boring or difficult to get through. It reminds me of a thriller rather than a non-fiction book – it is an exciting page-turner.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It was informative and thought-provoking yet it was all easy to understand. Bellos’ lively writing style entertains as well as educates, making it an appealing read for everyone, no matter what their mathematical level is. The book illustrates how maths is involved in every aspect of our lives and illustrates how beautiful and exciting a subject it could be. I would highly recommend that anyone with the slightest interest in maths reads this book- it is an adventure that will not disappoint you.

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-Laura