Best Math Books for Adults (Top 11 Picks for 2021)
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Math can be a polarising subject. Most people either love it or hate it. Well, actually most people hate it, which is a shame. If you’re looking for a math book, let us point you towards some good ones. These will hopefully help you understand why some of us love math.
Our top pick is Math Refresher for Adults. This book is a great way to brush up your math skills and build some confidence back. If you’re not looking to improve your maths skills, do skip down a bit because there are some great maths for fun books and some pageturners on this list too.
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Best overall Math Refresher for Adults


Best for Puzzle Lovers NoNonsense Algebra


Budget Option All the Math You’ll Ever Need

Related post: STEM Activities for Middle School Math
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Best Math Books for Adults
Best Overall — Math Refresher for Adults
Math Refresher for Adults
This book reviews a wide range of skills from addition and subtraction through to algebra.
Math Refresher for Adults is an ideal book for anyone who needs to brush up on their math skills. It covers all the major math topics you need for everything up to college level.
The book is split into sections, so you dive into the topic you need. The book is filled with practice questions on each of the topics and some example problems. If you find you need some guidance, you can use the corresponding video that talks you through the problem.
This book is excellent for getting back to where you used to be. You’re only going to learn something new if you also use the videos. The videos are easy to understand and clear, but the book is full of practice questions without them.
This is the perfect option for reminding yourself of how to do things. It’s not the best option for learning new skills from scratch.
Best for Learning Algebra — NoNonsense Algebra
NoNonsense Algebra
A simple and clear guide to algebra with supporting online video lessons.
NoNonsense Algebra is a simple guide to all you need to know about algebra. The writing style gets straight to the point without any unnecessary information. It strips algebra down to its essentials, which makes a lot easier to follow.
The lessons are short and to the point — both in the book and the online videos. The examples take you through all the steps so you can see how to go about your own solutions.
Personally, I really enjoy solving algebra problems. They feel more like logic puzzles than confusing math. This book can help you find that simplicity in this math topic and take a lot of the fear away.
If you like mathematics but never got on with algebra, this book is the one for you.
Best Budget Option — All the Math You’ll Ever Need
All the Math You’ll Ever Need
This book guides you through learning all the basic math skills you need to get through daily life.
All the Math You’ll Ever Need is a well thought out book that is ideal for anyone unhappy with their math skills. This book focuses only on the key math concepts that you need to navigate the world.
It is straightforward and easy to follow. It puts the math into real situations that make it understandable, for example, working out discounts and interest rates. By the end of the book, you will have covered all of the critical skills you learn in high school math, all without complicated formulas.
For anyone who is nervous about math or thinks it’s too hard, this is a perfect reintroduction.
Books for Learning Math
Best Quick, Mental Maths Book — Learn Math Fast System Volume I
Learn Math Fast System Volume I
A quick method to brush up your mental math skills.
Learn Math Fast System Volume I is focused on developing the skills of mental math. There are a lot of tricks that can make doing sums in your head quick and easy. This book focuses on teaching you them.
It’s designed to give you tests to find which chapters you need to thoroughly read. If you can complete the set of problems within a time limit, you can move on. Otherwise, you work through the quick and simple lessons.
If you find yourself fumbling to do quick mental arithmetic and want to get better, this is a great book to try.
Best Intro to Trigonometry — Trigonometry Essentials Practice Workbook
Trigonometry Essentials Practice Workbook
Includes lessons, examples, practice questions, and answers on basic trig through to applying trig identities.
The Trigonometry Essentials Practice Workbook is a standalone workbook that can help you to learn and master trigonometry.
The book works just like a lesson. Each section of a topic begins with some instructions. There are examples of how to apply new information and techniques. You can then practice on your own and check if you have the right answers.
The book starts with simple degrees to radians conversions. It moves through trig in rightangled triangles and then takes you through trig functions in terms of graphs and algebraic equations. It’s a comprehensive workbook.
If you never got trig at school or college, and you want to get your head around it, this book is a great choice. You can work through all the concepts at your own pace, which lets you build your confidence.
Best for Personal Finance — Financial Literacy Doodle Notebook
Financial Literacy Doodle Notebook
An interesting book that will encourage you through doodling to help you learn about all the most important ideas behind personal finance.
Financial Literacy Doodle Notebook is an excellent introduction to personal finance. The book encourages you to color and doodle the pages to help you remember the information on the pages.
Everyone should have a basic understanding of personal finance. Trying to get through life without some of this information is more challenging than it needs to be. If you want to try and get a handle on your finances and make better money choices, this book can give you the information you need.
Topics covered in the book include budgeting, mortgages, taxes, stocks, investing, and more. Do not be put off by the label on the front that says “for teens.” This book has a lot of excellent easy to digest information that can make your life better.
The idea behind the doodling is that it engages both sides of your brain while you’re learning, This can help with the retention of information.
Math for Fun Books
Best Logic Book — Logitica: Learn Logic and Math Together
Logitica: Learn Logic and Math Together
Learn how to solve a wide range of puzzles before presenting you with a range of challenges with this challenging book.
People who love math often enjoy the challenge of a puzzle and the satisfaction of getting an answer. Logitica: Learn Logic and Math Together introduces you to a wide range of logic and math puzzles that give you just that buzz.
The book has five different types of puzzles. First, you’re introduced to the puzzle. You can try some simple challenges to get the idea. Then the book steps things up and adds layers of strategy. It teaches you strategy and techniques to try and then lets you loose on the puzzles.
If you’ve tried sudoku and are looking for some more variety and a little more math, then these puzzles are a great way to pass away an afternoon or so.
Best Math Coloring Book — Patterns of the Universe: A Coloring Adventure in Math and Beauty
A Coloring Adventure in Math and Beauty
This beautiful coloring book introduces you to the math behind the beautiful patterns.
Patterns of the Universe: A Coloring Adventure in Math and Beauty is a coloring book for adults. Not only is it filled with pages to color, but the patterns are all based on math.
While you’re relaxing and coloring, you can also learn a little about how math is responsible for the patterns you see. You can take as much as you want from this book. You can just enjoy the coloring, or you can delve into the math it introduces.
There are no math skills needed to enjoy and understand the math in this book. It is a friendly introduction to a different side of math that you don’t meet during school.
Best Brain Stretching Math Questions — The Ultimate Mathematical Challenge
The Ultimate Mathematical Challenge
Filled with some of the best challenging math puzzles around.
Every year in the UK, kids aged 14 – 18 can enter the UK math challenge. The Ultimate Mathematical Challenge is a collection of some of the best questions that have been dreamt up for this incredibly competitive math event.
You might be thinking that these are questions aimed at school kids, so why is this book on a list for adults? It’s because these challenges are no joke. The book contains 365 different questions that start from the introductory level up to Math Olympiad standard.
The questions will challenge not only your math skills but your problem solving and logic abilities as well. Even easier questions are deeply satisfying to solve. It gets quite addictive after a while.
As an added bonus, this book’s profits support math activities and outreach for school kids. So, your love of math can help someone else discover the joy as well.
Page Turners About Math
Best Fascinating Math Book — Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
Explore how world history has been shaped by the philosophical idea of ‘zero.’
Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea is an entire book about one number. It’s amazing quite how fascinating a single number can be.
Through the book, you get the chance to learn about the history of math and numbers, from Archimedes to Euler. The book traces zero to the ancient Babylonians and explores how it impacts modern physics. You can learn how important and fascinating the concept of zero really is and how it has a significant impact on our lives.
You don’t have to go into knowing anything about mathematics to enjoy this book. What’s more, is that it is not only fascinating, it will also make you laugh out loud in places!
Best Real World Math Book — In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World
17 Equations That Changed the World
Learn the story behind 17 equations that have shaped our world — no math skills required.
Ian Stewart is one of my favorite authors. I heartily recommend that you look at the rest of his extensive back catalog because there are some great reads to be found there. In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World is his exploration of how some complicated mathematical equations are responsible for shaping the world we live in.
The book is well written, such that it’s accessible to those with no background in math, but is still interesting and fascinating for people who are familiar with the equations in questions. He delves into some complicated territory, including set theory, number theory, and even differential equations, and yet you come out the other end undaunted by the big ideas he presents.
If you’re looking for a book of math, that is engaging and answers the question “Why do we need to learn math?”, this is the perfect book to try.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you get good at math?
Being good at math is about two things – practice and confidence. The more you practice, the better you get. The more confidence you feel as you approach a problem, the better the chance you’ll find your way through it. If you believe you’re bad at math, it will become a selffulfilling prophecy.
What math topics do you need to know?
Some maths skills come up a lot in life, and there are others that you can get through life without. Trig and Algebra, you can probably do without unless you use them for work. However, everyone should know addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and how to find percentages.
Personally, I think that everyone should be able to apply math in financial situations. Finances are probably the most critical application of math in any adult’s life.
What are popular math books?
Popular math books are books that talk about math, without trying to teach you math. It’s a little like popular science books that explore science ideas but don’t grant you a degree at the end.
Math touches on so many subjects that exploring it as a topic can be fascinating. A quick exploration of some mathematical ideas can get you thinking about philosophy, ethics, technology, and the meaning of life. Outstanding popular math books can be fascinating and real pageturners.
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