That’s Mathematics

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


Chris Smith is a maths teacher, musician and all-round maths enthusiast, and Elina Braslina is an illustrator and film-maker. That’s Mathematics (Amazon UK, Waterstones) is their book , which brings to life the Tom Lehrer song That’s Mathematics.



The book wonderfully blends Lehrer’s lyrics with illustrations of where the mathematical concepts appear in daily life. Perfectly pitched for both young readers and those who are young at heart.


That’s Mathematics  takes the lyrics of Lehrer’s original song and adds beautiful illustrations showing where readers will come across these concepts every day. The illustrations exemplify the mathematical concepts and really complement the explanations. The book is also packed full of suggestions of activities for readers to try themselves.


A beautifully illustrated book, conveying the ubiquitous nature of mathematics, using the lyrics of one of my favourite satirists.  What other book could possibly come close? Only a book on the same topic that included the extra Andrew Wiles inspired final verse. Though as Lehrer himself said “Remember it is for little kids, except for the Andrew Wiles part.”


As a huge Tom Lehrer fan myself, I love this book and have been barely controlling myself from giving a copy for everyone I know that either has children, is young at heart, or encounters mathematics in their daily lives. Yes, I know that last one accounts for everyone, that is how much I want to share my enjoyment of this book.


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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