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Friday, December 08, 2017

16th annual New College holiday book guide | Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Each year, the Herald-Tribune invites faculty, administrators and staff at New College of Florida to recommend books to our readers that had a particular impact on them. They don’t have to be new.


Would you like to choose a gift that inspires someone to think about life’s most important questions? Many of this year’s books explore the challenges of understanding our relationship to the past, achieving wisdom or practical success, or remaking the world by opening ourselves to new ideas. Authors reevaluate the New Deal, examine the religious revival in China, lay out 34 plans for newly enlightened national policies, or rescue the skills of their ancestors from being erased by history. Literary works range from the grim humor of historical fiction to a blend of fantasy and reality in an environmental novel. In graphic novels from different cultures, authors reinvent “Frankenstein” by portraying a black scientist reanimating her child, or reimagine Frankenstein as a creature made of war dead in the Arab world.

Wishing everyone a year filled with rewarding books, we present the 16th annual New College Holiday Book Guide, with reviews compiled by English professor Andrea Dimino.  

Donal O’Shea, President of New College
Photo: Donal O’Shea
The recent book “Prime Numbers and the Riemann Hypothesis” (Cambridge University Press, 2016) by Barry Mazur and William Stein, two accomplished mathematicians and fine prose stylists, will make a great gift for a curious student. Using the graphical methods found in calculus reform texts, this beautiful little book allows a patient reader with a good grasp of first-year calculus to explore the most famous unsolved problem in mathematics, the so-called Riemann Hypothesis, and to understand why it points to as yet undiscovered regularities in the distribution of prime numbers.

Bernhard Riemann introduced the hypothesis in 1859 in a brief, dazzling paper that seems to have come out of some strange alien universe. The Riemann Hypothesis has since become the Holy Grail for generations of mathematicians, and continues to resist all attempts at solution. The process of establishing weaker variants has resulted in major mathematical advances, and made careers. Until now, however, the deeper significance of the hypothesis has been inaccessible to those without advanced mathematical training. Mazur and Stein’s book fixes that, and is itself a first-rate intellectual achievement. 
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Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune 

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