The Wonder Book of Geometry

We review the seventh of this year’s nominees for the Book of the Year, and open the vote for the readers’ favourite


David Acheson is a mathematician at Jesus College, University of Oxford. The Wonder Book of Geometry (Amazon UK, Waterstones, Oxford University Press) is a book that takes the reader on a journey through the world of geometry.


The Wonder Book of Geometry starts by recounting a story of a young David Acheson being surprised: he drew a semicircle, picked a point, then draw lines from the endpoints of the diameter to the point. He then measured the angle. To his surprise, the angle was always 90°, now matter where the point was placed. Mathematics is full of this type of surprise, and this book shares many situations with the reader. Many of them may be familiar to many readers, but you cannot fail to enjoy a nice surprise at a fair few of them.


After showing the 90° semicircle fact, The Wonder Book of Geometry looks at why it is true. This is another very satisfying bit of maths, as when viewed in the right way, the result goes from being surprising to being ‘obvious’. Rather than spoiling the result by taking away the mystery, seeing how it is true in this way actually makes is better. As David puts it: “this is often one of the hallmarks of mathematics at its best.”


While the book starts with the kind of angles, areas, and shapes that will be familiar from secondary school (although going back and seeing why these results are true is always fun), it soon moves into less familiar territory, covering less well known results related to circles and triangles, as well as other topics such as sphere packing an non-Euclidean geometry.


I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to rekindle their love of geometry, or looking to revisit geometry and leave with a deeper understanding of why things are true.


Now that we’ve review all the book’s on this year’s shortlist, you can vote for your favourite. The book with the highest number of votes will be crowned the 2020 Readers’ Choice. Voting closes at 5pm on Saturday 13 March.

What is your favourite book on the 2020 Book of the Year shortlist?

  • Mathematical Adventures! by Ioanna Georgiou and Asuka Young (63%, 1,181 Votes)
  • Hello Numbers! What Can You Do? by Edmund Harriss, Houston Hughes and Brian Rea (34%, 639 Votes)
  • Why Study Mathematics? by Vicky Neale (1%, 26 Votes)
  • The Wonder Book of Geometry by David Acheson (1%, 10 Votes)
  • Geometry Juniors by Ed Southall (1%, 10 Votes)
  • Molly and the Mathematical Mystery by Eugenia Cheng and Aleksandra Artymowska (0%, 8 Votes)
  • How to Make the World Add Up by Tim Harford (0%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,882

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