The Math Book by Cliff Pickover proves you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.
The cover has three strikes against it.
- The title could hardly be less interesting.
- The book cover substitutes a couple Greek letters for Roman letters, a gimmick I find annoying.
- At first glance, the dust jacket is just text on a black background.
In short, there’s nothing about this book that would make it jump out at you in a book store. That is a shame, because the book is quite interesting inside. Not only is the content well written, the images are stunning. Aside from its dull cover, it would make a great coffee table book.
The Math Book contains 250 one-page articles on milestones in the history of math. Each article is followed by a related full-page color image. The articles are short and self-contained, so the book is easy to read a few minutes at a time. It’s also fun just to thumb through enjoying the photography and computer-generated images. The book would be a good wedding gift for a mathematician marrying an artist.
The Math Book is written for a general audience; much of the book would be accessible to someone without much background in math. But it also holds a few surprises even for experienced mathematicians.
Update: See Interview with Cliff Pickover