An accessible Calculus book and Benjamin Franklin’s secret passion

It has been a while since my last book recommendation. I’ll take the opportunity of the Easter longer weekend to write about two books that were recently released and I just finished reading. The first one is an atypical Calculus book, while the second one is a popular mathematics title which is historical and biographical in nature.

The first book is The Calculus Lifesaver: All the Tools You Need to Excel at Calculus.

Before I even start talking about the actual book, let me just tell you that this is a steal. I don’t know what the publisher was thinking, but a 750 page, recently published book on Calculus never sells for such a low price. On Amazon it sells for $16, which is a ridiculously low price for this 5 star tome. The average Calculus book is far from cheap, so this excellent guide is a pure bargain. Now, let’s talk about the content of the book.

I’m very exigent when it comes to Calculus books and usually like a very formal and rigorous style. Most people don’t. Many tend to like accessible books that speak to them in plain English. And this book is marketed as such. This is supposed to be an extra aid, on top of a regular textbook, to make Calculus more accessible. However, it stands on its own, thanks to its comprehensiveness and clarity. If commonly adopted Calculus books puzzle you, or if you are studying on your own, this is the book for you. Every step is clearly explained and it doesn’t fail when it comes to covering all the pre-requisites/fundamentals. Thanks to its style and approach, pretty much anyone who’s willing to learn, will. I’d even recommend it to high school students who wish to learn more about this subject, because I don’t think they would have any trouble following along. The tone is informal, friendly and often even funny, making it one of the least boring math books I’ve ever read. I highly recommend it to those who are struggling and would like to really understand the subject.

The second book is Benjamin Franklin’s Numbers: An Unsung Mathematical Odyssey.

Most geeks admire Ben Franklin, and not only for patriotic reasons. He was a brilliant, vibrant mind who made contributions to several fields. There isn’t a lack of biographies about the man. Or even good ones at that. What this short (and sweet) book does though, is to cover Franklin as a mathematician, a side of the genius that is often hidden or disputed. This hardcover focuses on Magic Squares and Franklin’s contribution to this field, even though he wrongly considered them as enjoyable, but useless in practice. Benjamin Franklin’s Numbers: An Unsung Mathematical Odyssey is filled with mathematical puzzles and will be a pleasure to read for those who can appreciate small challenges and the historical importance of Pasles’ research.


  1. Adam March 22, 2008
  2. Ken Williams March 23, 2008
  3. Ken Williams March 23, 2008
  4. salah April 19, 2008
  5. malcolm May 17, 2008
  6. christos makriyannis December 30, 2008

Leave a Reply