Tag Archives: e

e: The Story of a Number by Eli Maor

“e”: The Story of a Number by Eli Maor: Like its more famous cousin pi, e is an irrational number that shows up in unexpected places all over mathematics. It also has a much more recent history, not appearing on the scene until the 16th century. My favorite parts of this book were the historical anecdotes such as the competitive Bernoullis and the Nerwton-Leibniz cross-Channel calculus feud. Unfortunately, this math history text is much heavier on the math than the history, including detailed descriptions of limits, derivatives, integrals, and imaginary numbers. The trouble with this large number of equationsis that if you’re already familiar with the concepts you’ll be doing a lot of skimming, but if the subject is confusing then reading this book will probably not give you any new insights. In short, as much as I normally enjoy books about math and science, this particular one felt too much like a textbook. Recommended only for those folks with a very strong love for the calculus and related topics.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

A Void by Georges Perec

A Void by Georges Perec, translated by Gilbert Adair: This was originally a novel written in French without use of the letter e, which was then translated into English under the same constraints. I sort of suspect that this little literary game was the main reason it was published at all. This was the kind of book I would have liked to read for a class, where someone would stop and explain what was going on every few chapters. It was far too tedious and heavy on the smug cleverness for my patience as a casual reader. I got about sixty pages in, then realized I was skipping and skimming more than I was actually reading, so I gave up.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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