ASSOCIATES (vol. 3, no. 2, November 1996) - associates.ucr.edu
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*Everyday Math For Dummies* Charles Seiter, Ph.D. 1995 RHR International ISBN 0-8144-0287-9 Reviewed By Dr. Bob Farnsworth Senior Library Technical Assistant University of North Florida Library email@example.com "MATH"--Does the very word send chills up and down your spine? Do you find yourself grasping frantically in the air for a calculator? Well, here's a book that can help to (as the cover tells us) "conquer math anxiety." The author, Charles Seiter, Ph.D. wrote (according to the biography section) his first "math book at the age of ten. It was a cartoon guide to calculus that was used as part of a junior-college math course." The first thing you will notice--right inside the front cover--is a perforated page that you can remove--and keep handy for instant reference. Among the many bits of information on it are basic rules for volumes and areas, a reference for tipping in restaurants, and fast suggestions for everything from playing poker to figuring out mortgage payments. And that's only the first page of this book! There are five basic sections to the book--each section written in a clear (and often humorous) manner that lets you know the author knows what it's like to be less than skillful in Math. Yet with each page you also get the feeling that he's encouraging you to forget about your past problems and to look at Math in a new and less defensive way. There is, as in the other "Dummies" books, a wealth of cartoon commentaries. Plus there are more cartoons that are dropped in to help you to relieve some of the anxiety you may feel as you start to spend more time seeing the various ideas that Dr. Seiter presents. Again and again we are shown various math tricks for things that seem almost insurmountable (Chapter One, for example, has some great ideas on managing that super Math challenge--the checkbook). For those who have a hard time--or just get tired--reading the printed word, there are many, many tables and illustrations that help to clarify all the points in the book. Things that have always been a bit confusing are given extra space and extra drawings to make the situation more understandable and more enjoyable. Yes..I did say "more enjoyable"! The author obviously feels that Math isn't necessarily a punishment. Rather, he spends a lot of time just begging you to see his point of view--Math can be educational and fun at the same time. One example of this is seen in his "Fun Facts" sections. One such thought (in the section on Gambling): Did you know "You were a hundred thousand times more likely to die this year than to win the lottery?" If you're starting to feel just a bit more comfortable with things mathematical, you might want to check out a section called "Ten Fast, Silly Number Tricks". This section also has short games and riddles. For example, in "The Latest from 1600 B.C." we are given the following riddle: "If each of seven houses has seven cats, and the seven cats are each served by seven mice, and each of the seven mice is hoarding seven ears of grain, and each grain has seven kernels, how many kernels of grain do you have?" (The answer is "823,543"--but you'll have to read the book to see how it's determined--a very simple formula.) So take some time to check the contests of _Everyday Math for Dummies_. It's one book that you can really enjoy while you're learning or reviewing all sorts of practical applications. To quote the introductory section..."Even if you had your math confidence surgically removed in high school, _Everyday Math for Dummies_ can replace it!"