Paperback review: Thinking in Numbers, By Daniel Tammet

A clever book about maths that just doesn't add up

This is a book about the unsuspected influence of mathematics on our lives, laws, language and literature.

There are chapters on Shakespeare's use of zero, on the maths of probability, and the likelihood of life elsewhere in the Universe, on all the different versions of Lolita which would result from rearranging Nabokov's index cards, and on the links between mathematical proofs and Ancient Greek rhetoric. Tammet certainly knows a lot; but, I am not sure why, the book failed to engage me. It reminded me a little of those irksome Post-modern critics who drag in every scrap of lore they happen to possess, and strain every sinew to pretend it's relevant.