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Mathematics for Human Flourishing

Francis Su
Yale University Press
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The Basic Library List Committee suggests that undergraduate mathematics libraries consider this book for acquisition.

[Reviewed by
Hannah Robbins
, on
A good book is an entertaining read.  A great book holds up a mirror that allows us to more clearly see ourselves and the world we live in.  Francis Su’s Mathematics for Human Flourishing is both a good book and a great book.  It provides an extended meditation and exploration of what it means to be a person, what it means to be a mathematician, and how wonderful the overlap of those two circles can be.  (Venn diagram joke very much intended.)  While not intending to teach specific mathematical concepts, it does present interesting mathematical ideas, applications, and puzzles sprinkled throughout the text.  
This is the book I wish all my students could read before taking their first math class.  It is the book I wish I had read before I taught for the first time.  It is designed to remove the hardest barriers to getting people to enjoy math – the ones inside ourselves.  The language is gentle and welcoming, and the ideas introduced provide a compelling argument that math truly is for everyone who wants it and that we should all want it in some way.  
I think this would be a fabulous book for any introductory seminar where the motivation to do mathematics is discussed.  It would also be a wonderful gift for anyone who has an interest in math.  Or a fear of math.  Or is worried about how to talk about math with their kids.  Or is about to take or teach math.  Or anyone else. 


Hannah Robbins is a professor at Roanoke College in southwestern Virginia.  
The table of contents is not available.