Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

For Mathletes Only

Napier's Bones by  Derryl Murphy

I was skeptical about reading this book.  The blurb about it advertised math as some sort of positive thing, a math mystery.  I am the complete opposite of math-illogical, unreasonable and I have serious trouble with anything involving numbers.  I often confuse phone numbers, birth days and I am one of a handful of women who occasionally forget their own anniversary (the 3rd or the 4th). 
But, I love mysteries so I forged ahead.

I should have listened to my first instinct.
The initial part of the book involves a young man named Dom who can control numbers as it they are some sort of magic surrounding him, surrounding all of us.  And, I love the concept!  How unique.  But, I just couldn’t see it.  I couldn’t visualize these patterns and numbers the author kept referring to. 

Dom is on the hunt for a mystical historical object (which is not clearly described until the latter part of the book) and he is being hunted by some sort of mystical creature that wants said object.  Along the way, Dom is aided by a spirit of some great math renown and a girl who has an untamed math magical potential.  They are later helped by giant creatures of the earth, ancient beings created by numbers.
If that description has your head reeling, don’t even attempt to read this book.  If you were doing advanced algebraic problems in your head waiting for me to get to the point, buy the book now!

While I did struggle with some of the concepts in the book, I was very intrigued by the idea of John Napier and Napier ’s bones and the adventure of capturing such a piece of mystical history.  It did have me running to the computer to do some research.  That part of the book, the last half, was an adventure I enjoyed very much.  If I were a math-lete, this book would have held some magic for me.  Overall, though, it made me want to skip entire paragraphs just to get to the action.
In short, know thyself.  If you have a math brain (weirdo!), then this is probably just the book for you.  If you have a literary brain, the mystery and fantasy probably won’t be enough to make this a wholly satisfying read.

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