Little Apple Book of the Week

Wonders beyond Numbers by Johnny Ball (Bloomsbury, £16.99)

Johnny Ball was a familiar figure on our screens through the 1970s and 80s. He was the jolly man that talked about maths. He has written some great books on the subject aimed at children - Think of a Number is still popular today.

Now he has turned his attention to a wider audience. Wonders Beyond Numbers is aimed at anyone who wants to read about the history and wonder of our mathematical world. The book is full of great anecdotes about Ball’s own mathematical journey along with a stroll through the history of maths around the world.

Reading it makes you realise the amazing role maths played in human evolution. It helped build pyramids and the most beautiful innovative buildings in the world, inspired great art and drove economies, helped us navigate the seas and explore the world. Many civilisations had their own systems for keeping track of numbers and commerce.

It is the way Ball presents these ideas in manageable bit-sized pieces with his trademark enthusiasm that really makes this book an enjoyable read. The WOW factor index at the back is another reflection of Ball’s true love of the subject.

It is about time that we cast off our fear of maths and recognised the beauty it creates all around us. I think Mr Ball might just be the man to help do this.

Johnny Ball is appearing at the York literature festival on March 22 at 7pm at St Peters School. Tickets available from York Theatre Royal box office.

Reviewed by Philippa Morris