Category Archives: Book reviews

“Dialogues on mathematics” by Alfred Renyi

For various reasons I have recently been reading a bunch of books broadly addressing the theme “what is mathematics?”  (Linderholm was accidentally a lead-in, and clearly belongs in the category.)  This one is a short (under 100 pages) and snappy read, … Continue reading

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“Mathematics Made Difficult” by Carl E. Linderholm

I have seen attributed to Halmos (Linderholm’s advisor) the description of this book as an in-joke to the mathematical community, and that’s about right: I don’t think it would be possible to explain why it’s funny to someone who doesn’t … Continue reading

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“The Table Comes First” by Adam Gopnik

In the preface, Gopnik writes, “We shouldn’t intellectualize food,” and on that count I think the book is a failure; as a result, some chapters are something of a slog. But others are wonderful.  (They vary quite a lot in … Continue reading

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“Modular Origami Polyhedra” by Lewis Simon, Bennett Arnstein, and Rona Gurkewitz

Haven’t had an origami post in a while!  This book was as Christmas gift.  It consists of an assortment of instructions for modular origami: about ten different versions of the Sonobe unit, a variety of cube-based units they call the … Continue reading

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“Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande

Gawande is a wonderful writer who does a good job moving back and forth between the clinical and personal/anecdotal parts of his story.  This could be a bit formulaic, but one of his case-studies is his own father and I … Continue reading

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“Sunset Park” by Paul Auster

What with moving half-way across the country and starting a new job etc., it’s been a while since I’ve read a novel.  I enjoyed this one.  At some level its characters do not feel exactly real to me, but it … Continue reading

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“The Bialy Eaters” by Mimi Sheraton

This short, amusing book describes attempts by the author (a former NY Times food critic) to work out the history of the bialy.  Much of the book consists of light, pleasant tales of her meetings and interviews with expatriates from … Continue reading

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