Here's a universal truth: to be a good writer, you gotta read. And read widely. I founded a book club for this very purpose: to read books that I would not otherwise choose for myself.
The most recent book that surprisingly caught my attention is The Mathematician's Shiva (Stuart Rojstaczer, 2014). It's contemporary fiction and about mathematicians; in short, not my usual fantasy read. But the synopsis on the back cover sold me on the book. Rather than giving you an unnecessary exhaustive review, I am just going to give you my top three reasons why you should read this delightful book:
Reason #1: Unique Characters
The book is dominated by mathematicians. Mathematicians! Narrated by the son of "the greatest mathematician of the 20th century," the reader gets insights into the personalities and neuroses of the people in this profession. Basically, every joke that you've ever heard about mathematicians are covered here and then some. Yet, the heart of this story lies with the Karnokovitch family. Individually, each is flawed with a unique weakness, but their loyalty to each other drives the novel forward on every page.
Reason #2: Funny Writing
Many parts of this book are genuinely funny, as in, you will find yourself chuckling while reading. Writing funny prose is challenging. Although many novels claim to be funny, the only other book that has actually been a hoot to read was The English Passengers (Matthew Kneale, 2001), another book that I highly recommend.
Reason #3: Learning Opportunities
Through great storytelling, the book has taught me a few simple mathematical concepts, and I got tons of insights on Russian Jewish culture. For example, did you know that the Millennium Prize does exist for the Navier-Stokes equation? Or that a funerary shiva lasts seven days? If you want to know more about what the heck I'm talking about, then read this book.