The other day I received a marvellous package in the post. Inside was a book, The Puzzle Universe, by Ivan Moscovich, published by Firefly Books. Ivan Moscovich has made a career out of making amazing mathematical puzzles and games.

The Puzzle Universe has the right size and weight to be a great coffee-table book. I doesn’t have to be read sequentially, every page is filled with colorful illustrations, snippets from the history of mathematics, related puzzles, and biopics of the people behind them.

The puzzles range from relatively simple ones such as deciphering an optical illusion, classics such as river crossing problems, to challenging paradoxes such as the Monty Hall problem, or a simple dice game where you let your opponent go first, and always win. The mathematical topics covered include practically every branch of recreational mathematics.

I’ll mention just one of the 315 puzzles here: find a 10 digit number – the first digit is the number of 0’s in the number, the second is the number of 1’s, the third is the number of 2’s, and so on.

The book is available direct from the publisher but you’ll get a better price through Amazon.com. Disclaimer: the Amazon link will earn me referral fees.

On the whole, it’s a fascinating book, there’s so much mathematical treasure to explore inside. It would make a great gift for a mathematically minded friend or family member.