Theoni Pappas is passionate about mathematics. A native Californian, Pappas received her B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1966 and her M.A. from Stanford University in 1967. She taught high school and college mathematics for nearly two decades, then turned to writing a remarkable series of innovative books which reflect her commitment to demystifying mathematics and making the subject more approachable. Through her pithy, non-threatening and easily comprehensible style, she breaks down mathematical prejudices and barriers to help one realize that mathematics is a dynamic world of fascinating ideas that can be easily accessible to the layperson.
Her over 19 books and numerous calendars appeal to both young and adult audiences and intrigue the “I hate math people” as well as math enthusiasts. Three of her books have been Book-of-the Month Club™selections, and her JOY OF MATHEMATICS was selected as a Pick-of-the-Paperbacks. Her books have been translated into Japanese, Finnish, French, Slovakian, Czech, Korean, Turkish, Russian, Thai, simplified and traditional Chinese, Portuguese, Italian, Vietnamese, and Spanish.
Who has ever heard of combining mathematics and poetry into poems for two voices? Her book MATH TALK does just that with such poems as Prime Numbers, Fractals and The Moebius Strip.
Pappas has a series of books for young people— ADVENTURES OF PENROSE, THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF PENROSE, MATH FOR KIDS & Other People Too!, and FRACTALS & GOOGOLS and Other Mathematical Tales— where she combines fiction and mathematical ideas in fascinating and provocative ways. Here we are introduced to Penrose the cat who discovers and shares math ideas, here numbers and math ideas are personified which literally make mathematics come to life.
Pappas is especially well known for her MATHEMATICS CALENDARS. Each month introduces the reader to math ideas both new and old, and delves into their connections to our everyday lives. Each day has a math problem to challenge and tantalize the reader even knowing that its answer must be its date.
In 2000 Pappas received the Excellence in Achievement Award from the University of California Alumni Association.
In addition to mathematics, Pappas enjoys the outdoors. Her other interests include watercolor painting, photography, music (especially flamenco guitar), cooking and gardening.