Book Review: Shopping Math

Shopping Math (Math 24/7), by Helen Thompson

On the face of it, this is the sort of book that is designed to be absolutely repellant to male readers, with its pink and lavender color scheme, its picture of a princessy young female shopper, and its subject matter, namely using mathematics in shopping to be a smarter shopper. For those readers who are willing to give the book a fair chance, or at least read the book from a perspective other than their own, there is certainly a great deal about this book’s material that is of wide interest. One wonders if the author was simply that interested in shopping (as appears to be the case) or was more interested in providing a means by which young women could be encouraged to see STEM as being practical, at least in terms of being able to shop more intelligently. This is, admittedly, not an approach I have seen much of when it comes to mathematics except in those classes where calculating interest was a topic. Still, there are a great many people who would be well-served by knowing the mathematics of bogo and boho deals and sales taxes and discounts and the like. And for those people, especially the young female audience of shoppers, this book has a lot to offer, even if it appears to have been deliberately designed for female readers instead of being written with a broader audience in mind.

This book is about 50 pages in length and has 15 short chapters in fairly large-sized pages. The book begins with an introduction, and then provides a connected narrative approach focusing on a young woman named Mikayla to provide insight on shopping expenses and budgeting. The book begins with the importance of using a shopping list (1), as well as budgeting (2), and then moves on to address parking costs (3) and concerns, as well as calculating sales tax (4). There are chapters on maintaining spending cash (5), using a debit (6) and credit (7) card, as well as calculating clothes sizes (8). One of the more interesting calculations is comparing clothes via a cost-per-wear metric (9), before the author gets into sales and discounts (10), and buy-one-get-one (bogo) sales (11). There are also chapters on dealing with the matter of unit prices while grocery shopping (12), coupons (13), as well as shopping online (14). A concluding chapter seeks to put all of the previous chapters together (15), after which there are suggestions for further reading, a glossary, answer key to the math questions throughout the book, index, information bout the author, and picture credits.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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2 Responses to Book Review: Shopping Math

  1. Catharine Martin says:

    Yes, this is definitely a girl’s book. They tend to shop with their eyes and buy what they see in the latest trend magazines. This book appears to counter impulse shopping with practical suggestions. The “cost per wear” point reminded me of the show “What not to Wear” on TLC which ran for ten seasons. It didn’t neglect the current fashions while it emphasized that women–and some men–should be more discriminating when choosing their wardrobe. I also like the fact that it gets into coupon shopping. One has to be careful; coupons can work for the shopper, but only if they are used wisely. Calculating parking fees into the mix is also smart. That can tip the balance.

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