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‘The Grapes of Math’ by Alex Bellos

In “The Grapes of Math: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life” (Simon & Schuster), British math geek Alex Bellos regales readers with dozens of nutty but true stories. He zigzags from the frequency of certain words in “Ulysses” to the safest shape for a roller coaster loop-the-loop and how Benford’s law can help uncover financial fraud. The amiable Bellos is a people person, at heart, one who has compassion for those of us who feel a bit uncomfortable around a whole lot of numbers. If a reader gets lost in an explanation, Bellos advises, skip ahead to the next chapter.

JAN GARDNER

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