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Math for Grownups by Laura Laing

Math for Grownups by Laura Laing [3], a personal finance writer with a background in Mathematics and who once taught high school math for four years, is a book that seeks to reteach you all the arithmetic you forgot from school. And this book delivers on that simple promise.

One of the common complaints about our educational system is that high school is mostly preparation for college. If you don’t go to college, very few of the classes translate to real life (how many high schools offer any sort of personal finance education?). Even if you go to college, your high school classes are simply preparation for the college classroom, not college life. Nowhere is this more evident than in mathematics. You start with algebra, explaining in terms of X, Y, Z (and A, B, C when you need more variables), rather than more relatable terms (we do throw a bone in terms of “word problems,” but that’s generally not how it’s taught). Algebra is preparation for trigonometry, which is preparation for calculus. There are few daily life uses for calculus. 🙂

This book just repackages all that early arithmetic and puts it in terms that we deal with every day, from calculating a 15% tip to figuring out how much mulch you need for your 10′ x 5′ garden plot. It teaches you some shortcuts, like the Rule of 72 [4], but mostly tackles daily math problems in a way that shows you why it was important to learn that stuff as a kid.

As you can problem tell from my review, this isn’t a life changing book on the level of The Richest Man in Babylon [5] but it’s far more practical. If you’re the type of person who isn’t particularly good at math and often find yourself in tricky situations, this book is worth checking out. If you have a strong math background, you probably won’t get much out of this book outside of a few shortcuts and more clever ways to solve a problem.