The 10 Best Geometry Textbooks
This wiki has been updated 19 times since it was first published in May of 2017. If you're intimidated by the prospect of an upcoming advanced math class, or if you simply slept through the subject in school and want to discover what you missed, finding a good geometry textbook will go a long way toward helping you master the material. Our selections provide clear, easy-to-follow instruction in the science, so you're sure to be challenged -- but never left behind. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best geometry textbook on Amazon.
June 27, 2019:
Choosing the best geometry book for you is a highly individual choice that depends on your level of expertise, learning style, tastes, and intended application (are you learning for personal enjoyment, high school, university, tutoring, etc). There is no one size fits all, and so this list has textbooks for multiple ages and proficiency levels. We also made sure to include shorter options (Barron's Painless) for those who require review and the budget-conscious.
With that in mind, we prioritized our selections based on their usefulness, how well they arrange and elucidate the subject matter, if they use pedagogy, and writing styles that are approachable and not bogged down in pedantry. Our number one selection, Elementary Geometry for College Students, passed all these tests with flying colors.
This most recent update also saw the newest editions of the Barron's Painless series and Elementary Geometry for College Students, as well as the removal of Fundamental Concepts and Applications, which we felt wasn't comprehensive enough.
High schoolers who require comprehensive texts will find what they need in Holt Geometry, Glencoe Geometry Student Edition, or McDougal Littell 9-12, while those at the college level would do well with Geometry Revisited, Elementary Geometry for College Students, and Geometry by Ray C. Jurgensen. Despite being published decades ago, The Art of Problem Solving is a solid choice if you're a hands-on learner who appreciates a challenge. Kinetic types should also consider Seeing, Doing, Understanding.
A Brief History Of Geometry
While there hasn't been a seismic shift in the field since the 1800s, advancements in geometry are still constantly being made.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that geometry was something invented by diabolical teachers with the specific intention of punishing you. However, the history of the science goes back thousands of years, and it's actually pretty interesting! Wait, come back — we're serious!
The ancient Egyptians were the first to use something resembling geometry around 3,000 B.C.E. They needed a way to quickly and easily survey land for agriculture, chart the course of the stars, and oh yeah — build a couple of pretty sweet pyramids.
The next great mathematical advancement would come from the famed Greek mathematician Euclid in about 300 B.C.E. He pioneered the method of making a series of small, intuitive statements, and then deducing a larger axiom from their sum. It was such a breakthrough that an entire branch of the science is named after him.
It would take nearly two millennia before the next big leap forward would come, but when it did, it came from France. The renowned philosopher Rene Descartes (of "I think, therefore I am" fame) figured out a way to use coordinates to illustrate proofs. His method incorporated algebra, and opened the door for the discovery of calculus.
Still, Euclidean geometry was the undisputed champ of the mathematical world until the early 19th century, when several mathematicians, including Carl Friedrich Gauss, altered Euclid's postulate involving parallel lines. Their discovery (which they cleverly named — wait for it — non-Euclidean geometry) led to the discovery of hyperbolic and elliptic geometry.
While there hasn't been a seismic shift in the field since the 1800s, advancements in geometry are still constantly being made. It's amazing to think that such an ancient field could still be ripe for discovery, but it's a testament to how rich and varied the math truly is.
Just think — if some numbers whiz makes a new discovery soon, you might have an entirely new type of math you'll be forced to learn!
Finding The Right Geometry Textbook For You
For many students, finding the right textbook is easy: simply take the one your teacher gives you.
If you're lucky enough to have some say in the matter, though — like if you're home-schooling or just wanting to learn about the fascinating world of mathematics — then you'll have to wade through the sea of available textbooks to try to find one that's right for you.
That said, you still want to challenge yourself, so don't default to the easiest book out there.
Ultimately, this is a personal decision, as each person will benefit from a different style of text. You should ask yourself what teaching style serves you best, and then try to find a book that mimics that style effectively. Do you learn better from pictures and charts, or would you prefer to just mainline the numbers and hard data? Do you need extremely thorough explanations, or do you like it better when the author moves along briskly?
Some books even try to incorporate humor, which can be pretty hit-or-miss (there's a reason they don't have "Math Teacher Night" at The Comedy Store). Still, a writer with a light touch can take some of the drudgery out of learning the material, which could be all you need to keep plugging along.
Regardless of which style you end up preferring, it's important that any book you buy gives you plenty of opportunity to practice your skills. Look for one that has plenty of exercises — and detailed explanations of the answers, in case you get one wrong. Some come with CDs or online components, which can be very helpful when studying for a test, especially if the publisher updates the information frequently.
Finding the right level of difficulty is important, as well. After all, there's a lot to learn in geometry, and if you jump into the deep end with a book that assumes knowledge you don't have, you're going to have a bad time. That said, you still want to challenge yourself, so don't default to the easiest book out there.
At the end of the day, though, you're going to get out of your studies what you put into them, regardless of which book you end up choosing. Find one you're comfortable with, because chances are you'll be spending a lot of time with it.
Tips To Make Learning Easier
While geometry is far from easy, that doesn't mean that learning it has to be some Herculean effort. With a few basic strategies in place, you can make mastering the material quick, easy, and maybe even fun.
These will help you quickly measure shapes and angles, especially if you can find options that are transparent.
One of the first things you need to realize is that learning geometry will be virtually impossible if you don't understand the terminology. If your book came with a glossary, read through it before you get too deep into the subject, and pay attention when vocabulary words come up in the text. If you don't know what a vertex is, for example, then good luck getting very far.
There are plenty of theorems and properties you'll need to know, so making flashcards is a smart idea early on. The sooner you can reflexively identify and understand each one, the quicker you'll be able to advance through the material. This is especially true for Euclid's postulates, so get intimately acquainted with those.
Make sure you have a quality compass, protractor, and ruler as well. These will help you quickly measure shapes and angles, especially if you can find options that are transparent.
However, there are no real shortcuts to success. You'll have to put the time and effort in, so block out a set schedule each week for studying the material. Luckily, the more time you put into it, the easier it will become, so you should be a geometry samurai in no time.
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