Short Cuts: Maths

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


Katie Steckles  is a mathematician, author, and general populariser of mathematics based in Manchester UK. Short Cuts: Maths  (Amazon UK, Waterstones ) is her book describing big mathematical ideas in easy to understand pieces. It has contributions from Sam Hartburn, Alison Kiddle, and Peter Rowlett, and illustrations by Robert Fiszer.



This is a book with bitesize descriptions of mathematical concepts from the golden ratio to game theory. The book is split into chapters focussed on related concepts, such as functions or mathematical modelling. Each topic can be read independently of the rest of the book so if you want a book that you can dip into to and discover a mathematical concept, then this is the book for you.


The ideas are explained fairly well, and there are some really nice examples of the concepts. I particularly liked the discussion of Bayes’ theorem using keys and an airport metal detector.


It is a nice book with a unique style. As it is aimed at `short cut’ introductions to topics it does not have the same level of detail as other popular maths books. Short Cuts: Maths provides a nice map of the big ideas and the further exploration section at the end has nice list of where you can go to get more detail.


This is a good book if you want a birds eye view of mathematics. I would recommend it to school pupils, or anyone else, with an interest in discovering maths beyond what they have encountered at school.


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 30 March.

What is your favourite book on the 2023 Book of the Year shortlist?

  • That's Mathematics by Chris Smith (91%, 277 Votes)
  • Once Upon a Prime by Sarah Hart (3%, 10 Votes)
  • How to Expect the Unexpected by Kit Yates (2%, 6 Votes)
  • Short Cuts: Maths by Katie Steckles (2%, 5 Votes)
  • Headscratchers by Rob Eastaway (1%, 2 Votes)
  • The Spirit of Mathematics by David Acheson (0%, 1 Votes)
  • The Truth Detective by Tim Harford (0%, 1 Votes)
  • The Secret Lives of Numbers by Kate Kitagawa & Timothy Revell (0%, 1 Votes)
  • A Year in Numbers by Kyle D Evans (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 303

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