a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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An Invisible Sign of My Own (2000)
Aimee Bender

Mona Gray is a second grade math teacher for whom math is not only a job, but a beloved friend, an obsession and a security blanket. In this first novel we learn about the events that have shaped her (such as the "illness" of her mathematician father) and her "creative" teaching methods.

Math certainly is a major theme of this book. However, its idea of math is a bit strange (mostly what she seems to do with the students in her math class is find objects in nature that look like numbers...which isn't exactly math), and moreover it seems to present the idea that math is an obsession of people who are too broken or scared to really live. For instance, the title refers to a neighbor who always wore a wax number around his neck indicating his level of happiness, until he realized that he could be a happy person instead of a number; Mona "wears and invisible sign of her own". [Needless to say, this is not at all how I think about math. I see it as something beautiful and important and perfectly compatible with an ordinary, happy life.]

Contributed by Anonymous

Quirky and fun. Unique and intriguing writing style. Loved it.

Thanks to Vijay Fafat for pointing out to me that a film adaptation of this book, called simply "An Invisible Sign" starring Jessica Alba was released in 2010. The film is very much like the book, adding some cool graphics in the form of a fantasy story her father tells her and "floating numbers" when she obsessively knocks on wood.

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Works Similar to An Invisible Sign of My Own
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Mirror Has Two Faces by Barbra Streisand (director) / Richard LaGravenese (Writer)
  2. Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout
  3. Mean Girls by Tina Fey (screenplay) / Mark S. Waters (director)
  4. School Scandalle by Marla Weiss
  5. A Desirable Middle by Susan Sechrist
  6. Yi ge dou bu neng shao by Yimou Zhang (director) / Xiangsheng Shi (screenplay)
  7. The Witch of Agnesi by Robert Spiller
  8. The Helpline by Katherine Collette
  9. The Equationist by J. D. Moyer
  10. The Geometry of Sisters by Luanne Rice
Ratings for An Invisible Sign of My Own:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
2.55/5 (11 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.86/5 (11 votes)

MotifAnti-social Mathematicians, Mental Illness, Math Education,
MediumNovels, Films,

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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)