Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Humble Pi

My grandmother was a math teacher. My college roommates were math majors. My kindergartner loves the “dot game” at school. Although I am not a Mathlete like my husband, I did enjoy The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa.

The professor in the story is a renowned mathematician who can’t remember anything after 1975 for more than 80 minutes. He dons a suit each morning with tiny notes pinned all over it to remind him where his medicine is, who he needs to thank for the cake, and that he has a new housekeeper who has a son.

The professor greets the housekeeper each morning with an inquiry about her birthday or shoe size. He then informs her of the significance of whatever number is the answer. Throughout her employment, he teaches her and her son about everything from factors to triangular numbers to Euler’s formula. When he’s not lecturing, he’s solving the latest puzzler from his math journals or enjoying the baseball broadcast with the young boy.

As the housekeeper begins seeing the beauty in the numbers surrounding her, you will appreciate Ogawa’s work for its elegant balance of sweet plus intriguing. And then you will send this book to your grandmother.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


These are the ones I read this year that I almost abandoned, mid-read, for something less sparkly, less despondent, less wearing, less dysfunctional, and, well, less quirky. But persistence paid off.

The Rhinestone Sisterhood: A Journey Through Small Town America, One Tiara at a Time
by David Valdes Greenwood

New World Monkeys by Nancy Mauro

Solar by Ian McEwan

Nothing Right: Short Stories by Antonya Nelson

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Best of...

I probably should read some of these.