Your Geeky Book is Here!

The wait began a couple months ago, the day I signed up for an MIT programming course. No, I’m not rich; the course is online, and it’s free. The best and most unexpected part of registration, aside from a no charge quality education, was the message I received after confirming my email address. Something to the effect of: Thank you for choosing MIT. Please complete a brief survey and receive a free MIT book. I usually see the word survey and can’t close the offer fast enough. This was different though, I felt a bit obligated. Considering the quality of the source, spending a few minutes contributing to their cause seemed reasonable.

Now, in this digital era, I have come to associate the words free and book to mean E-book. Almost every established website offers a free E-book of some sort. Usually, the offer is presented as payment for joining a mailing list or completing a survey. I assumed that this MIT offer was the same. I was happily surprised to find out I was wrong.

MIT Press response

I completed a brief survey and was shocked to receive this response:

From the MIT Press:

Please choose a book and provide the following information:

ISBN, Binding, Author, Title

Ship to: Name/Address (note: much match the name you used in the survey)

E-books aren’t sent by snail mail. Was this really for a free MIT Press textbook?

Three re-reads of the email confirmed it; no restrictions.


I was a geek in a digital bookstore

Where would I begin? Days passed by, my wish list grew and I even reached out to my Google Plus circles for recommendations.

I narrowed the topics down to computer science, neuroscience and technology, but then I was drawn into a remarkable collection of MIT Press math textbooks. Until recently, my last math class was honors calculus in high school. That didn’t keep me from studying math in my free time though. I spent hours browsing in Barnes & Noble and usually ended up with a math, science or psychology book. Despite my growing book collection, I could never justify spending full price for a textbook. Finally, this was my chance.

I jumped back and forth between a couple titles, but finally decided on Introduction To Quantitative Finance by Robert R. Reitano.

Why did I choose a finance math book?

I have always been good with numbers, but I didn’t start appreciating the inner workings of finance until I worked in Corporate Accounts Receivable (aka Corporate Collections). I was great at managing other companies’ bills, but somehow forgot to apply that logic to my own finances.

Years later, after making just about every 401K mistake in the book, I finally started to pay attention to where my own money was going. Honestly, starting a family is what pushed me into financial reality. I thoroughly researched retirement accounts and even created a website to share my findings and the details for starting my own IRA the right way. This textbook would be my next step to advancing my understanding of personal finance. Also, it contains a math kit with algorithms I can use it for my computer programming projects.

Ordering my book was nice, but waiting a full month for it to arrive was painful. I kept hoping to see it before starting college classes again. That didn’t happen. I had almost completely forgotten about my book, until that beautiful day I walked into the kitchen.

My fiancé was staring into an open cardboard box and shaking her head with a confused expression on her face.

“What’s wrong?” I said.

“Your geek-book is here.” she said.

“What geek book?” I said, not getting it.

Quantitative Finance? What are you up to?”

I just laughed, not able to explain with words, but thinking about the little girl scene in the original Men In Black movie.



Being a geek, I understand that it isn’t about simply having geeky things, it’s about wanting to have them. Having a collection of math books doesn’t make me a geek or a nerd, but wanting to read them does. It’s easy to get busy with life and push nerd desires aside; but the allure is always there, vying for my free time.

I truly hope my daughters are geeks. Being a geek is one of my favorite things about myself.   


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