- Writing: 5
- Illustrations: 5
- Math Level: 2
- References: 3
- Overall: 5
(For a detailed explanation of the rating system, see the end of the review.)
This book review, Platonic & Archimedean Solids, is a nice follow-on to last week’s post, The Platonic Solids as a Basis for Geometric Art. This wonderfully succinct yet comprehensive little book covers the Platonic Solids discussed in last week’s post, and then goes on to discuss their close cousins the Archimedean solids.
A Quick Word About the Wooden Books Series
The ever-growing series of books published under the Wooden Books imprint are worthy of special mention. They cover a wide array of subjects, but share a common style and sensibility that I have grown to cherish. They are incredibly cute little books (roughly 6″ x 7″) which each run exactly 58 pages (plus title page etc.) In addition, all the right-hand pages are illustrations, which means there are only about 29 small pages of text. And yet, through their choice of authors, and, I’m sure, some top-notch editing, each book covers its specific topic in amazing depth. In short, all of them I’ve seen (and I own about ten by now) have been little gems. I’m sure I’ll review more in the months to come!
As with most Wooden Books, this one walks through its topic area in a very logical stepwise fashion. The first 12 pages introduce the 5 Platonic solids, first as a group, and then with a two-page spread on each solid. The next 20 pages discuss various offshoots of the Platonic solids – how to combine them in pairs, their relationships to spheres, certain compounds, and the Kepler and Poinsot polyhedra.
Starting on page 32, the book moves on to discuss the thirteen Archimedean Solids. For those who read last week’s post, these solids are the next logical step away from the Platonic solids – polyhedra whose faces are all regular polygons, and whose vertices all have the same arrangement, but who now have more than one kind of face. Near the end of the book, the author shows some flattened out patterns, some space-filling packings, and a nifty table of key measurements of all the solids.
Finally, there is a short “further reading” page at the end – and although it is short, the handful of books it mentions are such classics that I still gave it a “references rating” of 3, to acknowledge quality over quantity.
There are so many wonderful little gems throughout this book that it’s hard to choose highlights. However, if I had to name a couple, I would definitely mention the discussion of how these polyhedra, especially the Platonic Solids, relate to and fit inside each other. And, probably my favorite little surprise is that in several places the illustrations include stereogram pairs – where you can “cross your eyes” to make two 2D images merge and experience a 3D image. This was a brilliant idea and gives a much more vivid sense of the 3-dimensionality of these beautiful objects.
As you have probably gathered, I almost can’t say enough good things about Platonic & Archimedean Solids. If anyone was grabbed by last week’s post, this might be my top recommendation as to how to explore this topic further. (Why didn’t I mention it last week? Well, to be honest, I had forgotten about it… my eye landed on it the day AFTER I posted. Shoot.) The illustrations are plentiful and top notch, the topics are nice blend of very straightforward, basic info combined with interesting, less common offshoot topics, and the whole package is chock full of information yet very easy to read and understand.
Please let me know what you think about this review – the rating scales, the format, the content, anything! I want to make sure these reviews are as useful and informative as possible, and only you can help me do that! Thanks.
To keep things consistent, I have decided to give each book I review a rating from 1-5 stars on each of several scales, pertaining to their usefulness and desirability for the library of someone interested in geometric art. Here are the rating scales I will be using:
- Clarity of Writing: Is it easy to understand? [1 = Poorly written, 5 = Excellently written]
- Quality of Illustrations: Is it beautiful to look at? [1 = Few/boring/monochrome illustrations, 5 = Many/beautiful/color illustrations]
- Math Level: Is a lot of prior math knowledge needed? [1 = Basic/high school level, 5 = Very Advanced/Graduate level]
- Depth of References: Are there references to other interesting sources? [1 = None, 5 = Many]
- Overall Rating: How would I rate the book overall? [1 = Skip It, 5 = Must Have]