I love math and I love math fiction. Someday when I am a teacher I hope to have a collection of math fiction books to lend to my students. If you’re looking for some good pseudo-mathematical reads, here is an annotated list of the different books I’ve read. If you have any suggestions for other mathematical fiction books, please share.
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott: A little outdated, and very sexist (though I hear it was intended to be satirical sexism), but a great read if you want your perception of space and time to be shattered and your mind blown.
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll: Alice finds herself in Lewis Carrolls’ matho-logical imagination and adventures across the land. If you want to read more about the mathematics behind Lewis Carroll, I’d also recommend his biography: Lewis Carroll in Numberland.
Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture by Apostolos Doxiadis: A boy tells the account of his uncle’s quest to solve the Goldbach Conjecture. A great book to illustrate the allure of mathematical thought and explain some of it’s modern history in an interesting and captivating way.
Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis: I have yet to read this, but I definitely like the idea of a mathematical graphic novel and I am a fan of Doxiadis’ other works.
The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger: A boy struggling with mathematics is visited by a number devil with an uncanny ability to explain convergent sums, imaginary numbers and the Goldbach Conjecture in words an eight year old can understand.
Improbable: A Novel by Adam Fawer: This book somehow manages to tie probability theory, quantum mechanics, science fiction, schizophrenia, epilepsy, and crazy action together in a seat-of-your-pants action novel. A good book all around.
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green: Child prodigy, Colin Singleton tries to explain mathematically why he has been dumped by 19 Katherines. Just enough comedy, romance, and teenage angst to make this book kind of awesome.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon: Christopher John Francis Boone, A boy with a mathematical gift and a social ineptitude opens us his logical world to us. A well-crafted, enlightening book that takes us into the mind of a boy struggling to cope in this irrational world.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster: Milo receives a tole booth as a gift and is transported to a strange world of logic, language, and mathematics. A true classic and an amazing work.
The Indian Clerk by David Leavitt: I started off hating this book, but it did grow on me. As a sesquipedalian, David Leavitt makes himself to be quite pretentious, reading ease is sacrificed for vernacular, but once you get used to the style, the content is truly interesting; just know what you’re getting into.
The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez: A fictitious murder mystery that takes place in Oxford right around the time of Wiles releasing his proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem. Definitely a simple, but pleasant read.
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa: Explore the relationships between a housekeeper, her son, and their client – a mathematician with a memory problem. This book is bound to touch the hearts of mathematicians, housekeepers, and everyone in between.
The Man Who Counted: A Collection of Mathematical Adventures by Malba Tahan: This book is a collection of interesting math problems and puzzles loosely tied to a story about a counting man who dances between history of mathematics, mysticism, and formal logic. I’d still recommend it to all.
The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell & Dustin Thomason: It can’t be said better than the way Grace put it, “it’s like the Da Vinci Code, but way better and smarter.” A mystery novel about trying to solve the riddle of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, a puzzling fifteenth century manuscript.
Again, I’m always on the lookout for more books to read, so please feel free to help me add to this list.