TL;DR: do you know of an undergrad textbook that covers numeracy with an emphasis on genuine context (as opposed to the artificial word problems that are all too common)?

Less concisely:

I am an instructor in the US, teaching in a large, research university. I am looking for a textbook that teaches numeracy at the college-level (so above the level of algebra 2) to students who need math courses for their degree, but have limited interest in the subject.

More specifically: I am looking for a book that teaches the students different skills (logical, statistical, etc) for analyzing the math that appears in the newspaper.

I am aware of books like "A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper," and I would be happy to find other books like this, but am hoping to discover a textbook on or near this topic.


2 Answers 2


I've heard good things about Bolker and Mast's Common Sense Mathematics, though I haven't used it myself. I can't imagine the MAA wouldn't send you a review copy in your situation.


Not direct answers (not textbooks), but there have been several books published recently on estimation that might serve as background:

Weinstein, Lawrence, and John A. Adam. Guesstimation: Solving the world's problems on the back of a cocktail napkin. Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press, 2009.

Weinstein, Lawrence. Guesstimation 2.0: Solving today's problems on the back of a napkin. Princeton University Press, 2012.
Mahajan, Sanjoy, and Carver A. Mead. Street-fighting mathematics: The art of educated guessing and opportunistic problem solving. MIT Press, 2010.


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