Book Review: The Shape of a Life: One Mathematician’s Search for the Universe’s Hidden Geometry by Shing-Tung Yau

No lifetime is as straightforward as we might think. Listening to Shing-Tung Yau’s path to becoming a mathematician made me think about how sometimes randomness rules our world. Sometimes we forget how easily something else might have happened, and we would be on a different path. Yet, despite all that worked against Shing-Tung Yau, he became a mathematician and field medalist. But I think it is not all because of some random chance. It’s the dedication and hard work he was willing to put into his passion. He wasn’t in it for the money or fame. Instead, he was interested in the problems riddled with his first textbooks. It would be so easy to dismiss one’s life by either statement: work or chance.

The book is written in a direct manner. It moves from childhood to his career as a mathematician and what he has seen and experienced. It speaks directly about being between two cultures, having a Chinese origin, and living in America, not being part of one or the other truly. I enjoyed parts handling those issues the most, finding them revealing. But I have to say the book is not written in the most elegant way. It is not as passionate as it could be. But I wouldn’t hold that against it. Such things are often overrated. Altogether an interesting book to read. The world of academics can be bonkers.

Thank you for reading, and have a great day ❤

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