Is Math Real?: How Simple Questions Lead Us to Mathematics’ Deepest Truths

If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I’m just not good at math!” Eugenia Cheng’s book on the human curiosity behind mathematics is for you.

illustrated stack of books with text "scifri book club"Welcome to the SciFri Book Club page about Is Math Real? by Eugenia Cheng. There’s lots of ways to participate: Read the book, join our community space, attend an event, sign up for our email newsletter, or send a message on the SciFri VoxPop app.

This May, the SciFri Book Club is reading Is Math Real?: How Simple Questions Lead Us to Mathematics’ Deepest Truths by Eugenia Cheng. Learning math in the classroom doesn’t always answer our most fundamental questions about the subject. How did it come to be, why do we know what we know, and what does math reveal about our world? Is Math Real? shows us how through unraveling the complex puzzles of math fundamentals, one can find a gateway to creativity and curiosity—and that there are no stupid questions.

Is Math Real? brings together a range of topics, including history, philosophy, so many types of math, and more—and we’ll touch on these ideas throughout this Book Club season. You can get your copy from your local bookstore or on

This Book Club season kicks off Wednesday, May 1, and you can read along with us! We’ll be (loosely) following this schedule, but all our readers are welcome to join us at their own pace:

  • May 1-5: Chapters 1-2
  • May 6-12: Chapters 3-4
  • May 13-19: Chapters 5-6
  • May 20-26: Chapters 7-8
  • May 27-31: Final thoughts

Plus, we’ll be hosting events throughout the month! Keep an eye out on our website or join our Events newsletter to be the first to know.

There are so many ways to dive in and participate! You can grab a copy of the book (and support the author and SciFri), read an excerpt from Is Math Real?, join the discussion in our online Book Club community, sign up for our email newsletter, or RSVP for our upcoming Book Club events. Check out all the details below.

Grab Your Own Copy

If you’d like to purchase a physical copy, we encourage you to start local! Check out the SciFri Book Club partner bookstores and libraries—if you’re in the area, consider supporting your local bookseller or public library (plus, mention our Book Club for a percentage off your purchase at participating shops!).

Our Partners

Want more ways to read? This book is available as an ebook via online retailers, your local library, or elsewhere.

Your local library may not currently have Is Math Real? in its catalog, but many branches offer ways for patrons like you to submit book suggestions to librarians. Look for ways to suggest new titles via the Libby or OverDrive app, a form submission on your library’s website, or a suggestion box at your local branch!

Save The Date: SciFri Book Club Events

Is Math Real?: Livestream and Q&A with Eugenia Cheng

Is 1+1=2 true or false? Well, according to mathemetician and author Eugenia Cheng, it depend on who, when and where you ask! She’ll join our livestream this month, where you can ask her all your logic-related questions—and come out loving math a little more.

RSVP for May 30

Join us online for a livestream with the author on the science topics featured in the SciFri Book Club pick for May 2024. Come with your queries and wonderings—we’ll be taking your questions in the livestream comments!

Join Our Community Space

And as you start reading, join us on our online community space: the SciFri Book Club is on Mighty Networks, a platform where we can gather, read and discuss science books together. We’ve built this community space to create a better way for readers to stay connected with other Book Clubbers, and we hope you’ll join us there!

Join Our Community

Read An Excerpt

Not sure this is the book for you? Want to read an excerpt before you commit? We’ve got you covered.

Basic Books, publisher for Is Math Real?, has offered SciFri Book Clubbers an excerpt of the book! You can read this sample on our website.

Read The Excerpt

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Subscribe to SciFri Book Club emails to stay updated on our monthly read sand join us for community discussions. We’ll send emails a few times per week.


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