“The Magical Maze”, written by Ian Stewart, is a mathematical book that isn’t any close to textbooks that we are supposed to read for school purposes. The target audience of this book is not only for great mathematicians either. Whoever in this world with whatever level of math education they received are able to read this book. Maybe you, who’s reading this review right now, might love this book more than I do!
What is this book about, exactly?
Based on the little description written on the cover of this book, “Seeing the world through mathematical eyes”, is enough to describe the author’s purpose. The author is explaining thoroughly, about the little things that we might miss about the world. The little things that could be seen differently in mathematical perspectives. Inside, the author brings readers into the “magical maze”, a concept where imagination and our thinking is more or less like a maze. This maze is divided into ‘junctions’ and they’re filled with series of puzzles which gets complicated the more and more you wander in the ‘maze’.
What is interesting about this book?
In my opinion, the series of puzzles presented in different junctions are very interesting, as the author explains the ‘mystery’ (or, basically how it works) to the readers. You might have seen a puzzle similar to those presented, but do you know how it works? Do you know how to solve it? Do you see what others see? The author guides and provides readers many examples of different cases to each and every one of the puzzles. Many of them could be mind-blowing once you understand fully about both the puzzle itself and how it works.
For example, I personally liked “The Mysterious Nine”. I’ve never heard such puzzle, and I thought it would be just another boring, obvious puzzle, but turns out a fascinating pattern is hidden and I would never thought about such idea! Another example would be the fibonacci sequence and the golden rule is connected to the beauty of nature. Who would’ve thought that the number of flower petals always came in the numbers of fibonacci sequence?
Some things to keep in mind when reading this book
Some puzzles are very complicated and lengthy, therefore it is normal for some readers to spend a little more time than others to re-read some junctions in order to understand fully about it. In my opinion in passage two, about “The Minotaur’s Advice”, I think a roleplay is going on and it is confusing at first, I didn’t know what was going on. But after spending a little more time on it, I understood about it more.
Why should you read this book?
The author wrote this book in first person, the simplest of all perspectives. As you read through the pages, you can imagine him talking and explaining directly and personally to you. Therefore, this book is very easy to understand no matter how good or bad your Maths are. Your Maths grade from school is not a reason to not read this book. Also, as mentioned a lot of times in this review, the author EXPLAINED. WITH EXAMPLES. YOU will eventually understand. Just like in the paragraph before, it is completely normal if you had to re-read some parts and spend a little more time.
TL;DR Easy & Interesting.