Burn Math Class: And Reinvent Mathematics for Yourself
by Jason Wilkes
Basic Books, 2016 ($29.99)
Uninspired and unnecessarily complicated math courses have hidden the beauty of the discipline from many of us, asserts Wilkes, who has a background in mathematics. The cheekily named Burn Math Class is an informal primer on basic mathematical concepts meant to help people rediscover this beauty. He reinvigorates standard high school math topics through creative explanations and illuminating examples. For instance, he banishes the FOIL mnemonic (“first, outer, inner, last”) often taught to students for solving (a + b)2 and replaces it with a method that turns the equation into the area of a square, making the problem easy to solve without memorization.
Although Wilkes aims to reach the mathematically disinclined, math fans should be intrigued by his informal approach and determination to give the field a popularity boost.