Math and You: The Power and Use of Mathematics by Ron Larson

Math is hard at times and it gets progressively more difficult the older you get: think annual percentage rates, amortization, depreciation, the list goes on. I have long been hoping there was a book out there that presented real-life logical math problems in a way that was simple enough for everyone in the family to understand. Ron Larson, Penn State Professor of Mathematics, has written just that book and Math and You will most likely end up being the family math bible, especially as the kids get older.

Math and You covers the broad range of mathematics used in everyday society and divides the examples into mathematical chapters: Calculation; Consumption; Logic and the Media; Inflation and Depreciation; Taxation; Borrowing and Saving; Patterns and Nature; Likelihood; Description; and Fitness and Sports.

The book is intended as a teaching tool with both student and instructor resources. Problems are well defined and examples are thoroughly explained. Answers to all the odd numbered exercises can be found at the back of the book. Math and You is well illustrated and things as complex as the Fibonacci pattern is easily grasped; my 10 year old enjoyed creating her own Fibonacci spiral as a craft project with the example and solution in the book.

Fabulous reference book to have, no matter what age the math student is, or even if they are still in school. The real-life applications put mathematical reasoning into everything around us. If you have the basics of math down (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division), then Larson's excellent teaching skills will help you understand even the most difficult of math situations - even if you think you can't learn it. I'm anticipating this will be a much referenced book as the kids reach middle school and high school.

Book Information:
Further Reading:
  • Math and You Website: Interactive access to the book as well as a great TOOLS feature with interactive math games and calculators. 
  • About the Author: Ron Larson's website with his bio, listing of his books, and a link to his calculus chat room.
Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the publisher. Any opinions are my own.