How To Bake Pi

by Eugenia Cheng
Published by Highbridge

AudioFile Earphones Award

Booklist Starred Review

Voice Arts Award for Non-fiction Health/Science

Top 10 Science & Health Audiobooks 2015, Booklist

It would seem that the only thing more complicated than reading a book on mathematics would be listening to a book on mathematics. Reader Gilbert, however, has made Cheng’s surprisingly accessible book on category theory not only understandable but entertaining. Cheng uses everyday examples (recipes, LEGOs) to explain the logic behind the theories. Gilbert, whose voice is clear, bright, and enthusiastic, makes the whole thing fun. Each chapter begins with a recipe intended to illustrate a mathematical point. Although audio isn’t the best medium for cookbooks or equations, neither one distracts from the explanations of the theories. Solving problems, according to Cheng, is like doing calisthenics in the gym. Both are intended to work muscles (mental and physical) that will be useful when faced with real-life situations. Math, in the hands of this talented teacher and writer, becomes intriguing and welcoming rather than forbidding and overwhelming. The theories become increasingly complex as the book goes on, but the foundations make it understandable. This might be a tough sell for listeners who’ve struggled through high-school algebra classes, but anyone who gives it a chance will be rewarded by Cheng’s insights and Gilbert’s top performance. Booklist


Tavia Gilbert narrates with a liveliness and lightness that one might not expect in a book about the world of mathematics. Various recipes are used to highlight points about math, revealing that math, like cooking recipes, is made up of ingredients and method. Gilbert persuasively presents this edible exploration into mathematical concepts, making them seem as familiar and unintimidating as cooking. Gilbert’s fluid voice conveys the themes of beauty and power in both the concrete and abstract aspects of math. While it’s uncertain whether or not everyone will come away with a complete understanding of the concepts, Gilbert’s lyrical narration, together with her deliberate speed as she delivers the formulas, brings clarity and a down-to-earth approach to this often intimidating subject matter. AudioFile Magazine