About my new book: Mathematics for Human Flourishing

Happy New Year! I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, but I have some big news:

I have a book coming out next week!

My book is titled Mathematics for Human Flourishing. If you liked my speech by the same name that was posted on this blog, or my essay The Lesson of Grace in Teaching, you’ll like the book even more. The book has more themes than the speech did (‘basic human desires’—there were 5 in the speech, but there are 12 in the book), and I had more space to develop the ideas. Plus, I included some mathematical puzzles to charm the reader.

While most popular math books try to sell you on math by showing you what cool things it can do, I instead focus on how the practice of math can (or should) shape you as a human being.

In the book, I argue that exploring and experiencing math is central to the notion of a good life, a means of developing virtue, and vital for any society that cares about beauty, truth, justice, freedom and a range of other human desires. I also tell lots of stories, and the book is readable even if you don’t know much math. One central story in the book is my correspondence with a prison inmate named Christopher who taught himself math in prison—he’s added some of his own reflections to the book. Another is religious mystic philosopher Simone Weil, whose brother was a famous mathematician. Her journey in confronting her own feelings of inadequacy also provide a poignant frame to the book.

You might enjoy this early review of the book from Harvard Magazine. Here’s an excerpt:

As the review notes, I’ve made the book for everyone, and accessible to a wide audience, including those who are fearful of math but also those who know a lot of math—like math teachers and mathematicians. I’ve also worked hard to ensure that the voices represented in the book are diverse and encouraging of everyone in mathematics.

You can read more about the book at francissu.com, which is my new public-facing webpage.

The book launches January 7, and you can pre-order it at your favorite bookseller or on Amazon. You might also ask that your public library order it. And please tell your friends!

The other news

…is that I’m moving most of my general blogging to francissu.com/blog. I still plan to maintain this site in the near term, because many people have linked to the ‘Flourishing’ speech that was posted on this blog. And I may still use this WordPress blog to post items requiring mathematical notation. But please subscribe to my new blog at francissu.com/blog since I plan to be more active over there (use the ‘login/sign-up’ button to sign up). I’ll try to write more often.

Here’s wishing you all a meaningful and flourishing 2020.