The Number Mysteries: A Mathematical Odyssey Through Everyday Life, by Marcus du Sautoy

Second paragraph of third chapter:

From ancient civilizations all around the world we have a fascinating assortment of games. Stones thrown in the sand, sticks tossed in the air, tokens placed in hollows carved into wooden blocks, hands used to compete, pictures drawn on cards. From ancient mancala to Monopoly, from the Japanese game of go to the poker tables of Vegas, games are invariably won by whoever is best at taking a mathematical, analytical approach. In this chapter I will show you how maths is the secret to the winning streak.

I read another of du Sautoy’s books twenty years ago in my early book-blogging days. This one is a straightforward romp through various bits of mathematical theory – prime numbers, topology, probability, cryptography and dynamics. I didn’t learn a lot from it, but it is breezily done and will probably appeal to smart older kids who are presumably the target audience. You can get it here.

This was my top unread book acquired in 2016. Next on that pile is Deuces Down, edited by John Jos. Miller.