Beyond Measure

We review the sixth of this year’s nominees for the Book of the Year


James Vincent is a writer and journalist from London. Beyond Measure (, Amazon UK, Waterstones), as the title suggests, is a book all about measurement and the different units and approaches that have been used to make measurements. My personal favourite was the callop, an old Irish unit for the amount of land needed to graze a cow. This is just one example of the plethora of flexible units that adapted to the needs of those making the measurements.


Beyond Measure is packed full of fascinating stories about the history of measurement. Not just the what and how but also why we use the units of measurement that we do.


The book is clearly written and the question of why we make measurements is well explained through lots of examples of historical units.


There have been a few recent books on measurement, and how being able to measure objects in a precise and uniform way has been pivotal to the advancement of science. The approach taken in this book is unique in that it takes the reader along on the authors journey, learning about what units of measurement where used in the past and why they have evolved into what we use today.


This was an all round very interesting book that I am sure would appeal to anyone with more than a passing interest in the history of science. I particularly enjoyed reading about many of the historical units that adapted to the needs of those making the measurements.


You can vote for your favourite book on the Book of the Year shortlist below. The winning book will be crowned the Chalkdust Readers’ Choice. Voting closes at 1pm (BST) on Saturday 31 March.

What is your favourite book on the 2022 Book of the Year shortlist?

  • An Introduction to the Math of Voting Methods by Brendan W Sullivan (44%, 101 Votes)
  • Peculiar Deaths of Famous Mathematicians by Ionna Georgiou and Asuka Young (19%, 44 Votes)
  • Congruent Triangles by X and Y (15%, 35 Votes)
  • Escape from Model Land by Erica Thompson (8%, 18 Votes)
  • Math Games with Bad Drawings by Ben Orlin (7%, 16 Votes)
  • A Ring of Cats and Dogs (and Other Curious Puzzles) by Daniel Griller (7%, 15 Votes)
  • The Irrational Diary of Clara Valentine by Coralie Colmez (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Beyond Measure by James Vincent (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 230

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