a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Letters to a Young Mathematician (2006)
Ian Stewart
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)
Highly Rated!
Note: This work of mathematical fiction is recommended by Alex for math majors, math grad students (and maybe even math professors).

I listed this one here before I had a chance to read it and am now wondering whether it should be counted as fiction at all. This is an excellent book which provides a lot of useful information about mathematics as a science and as a career. It takes the form of letters from a mathematician to his niece as she moves from high school through college and finally on to a position as a math professor, providing her with advice and mentoring all along the way. Although the niece is fictional, the mathematician seems to be Stewart himself, and so the "letters" are more like non-fictional essays on mathematics with the imaginary character of the niece merely providing the motivation and continuity.

At least for the moment I will keep this here and give it a low score for "literary quality" not because it is written poorly but because it isn't really fiction at all.

Contributed by Yolande

It's true that this book isn't actually fiction, but I don't think the genre affects the Literary Quality. It was well written, and it would attract the attention of both adults, and younger adults. Maybe even teens. I’m fifteen, and personally, I found it to be a very fascinating and interesting read.

In a whole, the book was excellent, and provided a brief little peek at the history of Mathematics. I recommend it for anybody that’s interested in becoming a Mathematician, or just likes math. =)

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Works Similar to Letters to a Young Mathematician
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Dialógusok a matematikáról [Dialogues on Mathematics] by Alfréd Rényi
  2. Math Girls by Hiroshi Yuki
  3. A Certain Ambiguity: A Mathematical Novel by Gaurav Suri / Hartosh Singh Bal
  4. Ultima lezione a Gottinga [Last lecture at Göttingen] by Davide Osenda
  5. The Kissing Number by Ian Stewart
  6. Lucy and David and the God Equation by Alan McKenzie
  7. L.A. Math: Romance, Crime and Mathematics in the City of Angels by James D. Stein
  8. Turing (A Novel About Computation) by Christos Papadimitriou
  9. Sophie's Diary by Dora Musielak
  10. Pythagorean Crimes by Tefcros Michaelides
Ratings for Letters to a Young Mathematician:
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:
4.75/5 (4 votes)
Literary Quality:
3/5 (4 votes)

MotifAcademia, Real Mathematicians, Female Mathematicians, Math as Beautiful/Exciting/Useful,
TopicAlgebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory, Analysis/Calculus/Differential, Real Mathematics,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)