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The literature of math


A car accident in 1975 stops time for a gifted math professor, after which he can only remember what has happened in the last 80 minutes. He lives his life through numbers as he draws correlations from birthdays, phone numbers, and shoe sizes to snippets of his past. Every morning the professor meets his housekeeper and her 10-year old son anew. Together the three of them learn about the beauty of numbers and what it means to live in the present. Praise for Yoko Ogawa’s The Housekeeper and the Professor has come from the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Guardian UK, and UHS Math Department’s own Minh Nguyen:

“What is the most beautiful equation (or result) in mathematics?  Ask a number of mathematicians and you will get many different answers.  In Yoko Ogawa’s beautiful novel, The Housekeeper and the Professor, you can find out the Professor’s favorite.  But along the way, you will learn, among other things, about memory, love, giving, baseball, and, of course, math.  Yet the most remarkable of Ogawa’s feats is not so much how she finds a way to weave so many topics (and math nuggets) into a book, but how her simple and elegant prose makes you feel a deep sense of compassion for all the characters.  Ultimately the novel is about humanity, despite a Plato-nistic view of mathematics, it’s not really about the purported most beautiful equation, it’s really about the beauty of math (and the present moment).”

Don’t just take Minh’s word for it (although I would!), read a passage of The Housekeeper and the Professor for yourself.


About nmhunter

I'm a high school librarian. I love it when I find that essential source that didn't seem like it existed.

One comment on “The literature of math

  1. Pingback: The 2013 Summer Reading List | SFUHS Reads

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This entry was posted on May 6, 2013 by in Summer Reading 2013.
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