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The Housekeeper and the Professor

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  15,051 ratings  ·  2,701 reviews
He is a brilliant math Professor with a peculiar problem--ever since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory. She is an astute young Housekeeper, with a ten-year-old son, who is hired to care for him. And every morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are introduced to each other anew, a strange and beautiful relationship bl ...more
Paperback, 180 pages
Published February 3rd 2009 by Picador (first published 2003)
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On originally reading a description of this novel I wondered if it was really for me. Did I want to read about a Professor with a memory span of 80 minutes and the Housekeeper who assists him? I'm so glad I decided to read it and I'm happy to have my own copy. This story of memory, math, building a pseudo-family where no relationship has existed before is full of love and compassion. The emotions are mostly expressed in mathematical theorems, cooking and random touch, but it is palpable througho ...more
A light but enjoyable read that scatters numbers, and facts about the brain, rather like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time ( However, in other respects, it's very different, being set in Japan and being primarily about friendship.

The eponymous housekeeper is a young single mother (herself the only child of a single mother) with a ten-year-old son. She becomes daily housekeeper to a former maths professor whose head injury in 1975 means he
A highly polished, smooth, shining surface of a novel that was exquisitely crafted from start to finish. The voice was so understated and matter-of-fact that I would have had little trouble believing that this was an actual account of a real housekeeper remembering her experiences. There were very few authorial flourishes and all of them were appropriately put into the mouth of the strange, afflicted Professor, a math genius whose short-term memory only lasts 80 minutes.

A premise like that can b
This is a quietly wonderful book. When I was reading it I really liked it. Now that some time has passed I still think of it, and any book that I still remember months after reading is a book that deserves 5 stars. Although there is some advanced math in the story the author doesn't expect the reader to understand all of it. The numbers and math are used more to show the magic of numbers and how math brings an unlikely group of people together to form meaningful relationships.
This is a characte
Mar 04, 2013 Ashley rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ashley by: Yulia
I’m not sure on which page I fell in love with the wrinkled, snowy-haired Professor in his rumpled suit with the scrap-paper reminders pinned all over it (the most important one being the note that reads “My memory lasts only eighty minutes”). I just know that about 50 pages from the end of the story, I found myself digging in my heels, wanting to linger over every last word. The Housekeeper and the Professor is a gently written, beautiful musing on the nature of friendship and familial love. An ...more
How can I possibly put this book into my own words? I can’t begin to imagine I could capture or convey to any of you, how this book made me feel. It took me two days to read and I wish I could have taken more time to read it – but I simply couldn’t put it down. The pages seemed to turn themselves and I didn’t really feel like I was reading at all.

This book moved me. It is a small ripple that travels a long way across calm waters. It is nothing ground shaking, nothing that makes you tumble and di
Petra X
This is a beautifully-written, elegant little book about an old man, a maths professor, his housekeeper and her young son. The professor's memory post-1975 is only 80 minutes long, so everything is fresh and new to him all the time, including the news his memory is only 80 minutes long. The housekeeper has her own problems but finds fulfillment in the relationship, ever renewed, between her son and the professor and her growing love for mathematics. It is a mark of the author's writing that the ...more

After our first full day visiting Japan in 2011, I saw a baseball game on TV (had to be a replay because it was December): the Yakult Swallows versus the Hanshin Tigers. I recognized Matt Murton of the Tigers who'd briefly played for the Chicago Cubs and the name of the 40-year-old Miyamoto. Two evenings later, in Nara, we got caught up in a small parade on the main street and as it ended, a young man straddling a bicycle caught up with us to ask if we were Americans and, next, if we knew Ame
This book is truly original, not your normal run of the mill. I highly recommend it. What is it about? It is about friendship and the beauty of numbers and baseball. And more..... Where should I start? I will start with the numbers. This is sort of the easiest to expalin. This book made me see and feel the beauty of math, of the laws that govern numbers. The world is so complicated. We understand nothing. Everything is always changing, but then you learn of a mathematical formula that is constan ...more
This was such a charming and heart-warming read: there was so much beauty in the writing, on the surface simple yet at the same time filled with hidden meanings and complexities, just like the intricate lace the housekeeper imagines, with awe, that the mathematician professor is able to glimpse. I liked how, in keeping with the professor having to be reintroduced to the housekeeper and her son throughout her special time with him, the reader too was kept in the dark about the names of the charac ...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
The Professor is a brilliant mathematician who suffered some brain damage in an automobile accident years ago. He can remember his entire life up until the accident, but afterwards, he only has a memory of the past 80 minutes. Luckily, his sister-in-law steps in to help care for him. She hires housekeepers to come in to his little cottage and cook his meals. Needless to say, the Professor scares off many of these women. But then The Housekeeper comes along. She's something of a specialist in dif ...more
I remember struggling through Number Theory during Engineering. I managed to get through it by doing repetitive exercises and making the process of learning
a rote rather than, well, an experience. Almost a decade later I had to implement the very same part of mathematics that had eluded me in one of the softwares I was working on. A seventy year old German professor helped me to see the elegance and dignity that numbers possessed.

The book almost takes a spiritual undertone as Ogawa uses zero a
مروان البلوشي

جوهرة يابانية صافية ..درس عظيم في 180 صفحة عن الحب، والرحمة، والقدرة على الإحساس بالآخرين.
تستحق القراءة، والتأمل، والتعلم منها ..أخلاقياً وجمالياً.
. امتیاز واقعی من ....اولش راستش فکر میکردم نویسنده میخواد از نظر فلسفی به رابطه خدمتکار و پروفسور نگاه کنه و بنویسه که بنظرم باحال تر میشد ولی چیزی که از آب در اومده هم کتاب خوبیه، اولش کنده، وسطاش به اوج میرسه وتا آخرش تقریبا تو اوج میمونه. داستان از طرف راوی که خدمتکار هستش روایت میشه و جاهایی از داستان هست که واقعا تحت تاثیر قرار میگیری چون قراره داستان خدمتکار و پسرش رو با یه پروفسور ریاضیاتی رو بخونی که این پروفسور قصه آلزایمر داره ، اونم به مدت دقیقه و اینکه چطور روزها و روزهای بعدش این ...more
Buddy Read with my lovely ragazza Cam

"For the professor, there was no shame in admitting you didn't have the answer, it was a necessary step toward the truth. It was as important to teach us about the unknown or the unknowable as it was to teach us what had already been safely proven.

There are books that shred you after you’ve read them. Authors that feel like they’ve written their books just for you. The House Keeper and The Professor is one of those books, and Yoko Ogawa is one of those autho
I remember learning in my interpersonal communications class in college that your opinion of someone is mainly comprised of two moments: 1) your first impression of them (yes, it's that important), and 2) your most recent impression of them. All the times in-between may linger, but those two moments are the moments most responsible for your feelings.

So what would it be like if each of those moments is created anew, every 80 minutes? How would you form an opinion of or attachment to someone? Woul
I hate baseball, a game full of statistics and numbers. I hate math. But how could I possibly not love this writing and this book about love but not a love story?

"...The pages and pages of complex, impenetrable calculations might have contained the secrets of the universe, copied out of God's notebook.
In my imagination, I saw the creator of the universe sitting in some distant corner of the sky, weaving a pattern of delicate lace so fine that that even the faintest light would shine through it.
Some books stay with you. They make you pause, think and smile whenever they come into your mind. For me, this is definitely one of those books.

It is simple, gentle and character-driven, and it is also moving because it has so much insight into the human condition.

The Housekeeper is a single mother with a ten-year old son. She has a great deal of experience and she knows that she is good at her job, but when she is sent to work for The Professor, a virtuoso mathematician, she is worried.

Why? Wel
A great story, simple yet complex! The Professor has only eighty minutes of short-term memory, but can remember everything from before his car accident in 1975, including all kinds of complicated mathematical theorems and equations. His new housekeeper is a young woman with a ten-year-old son, who manages to see past his memory problems to the brilliant and sweet old man beneath. She soon comes to dote on him like a father. In turn, the Professor adores her son, whom he calls "Root" due to the f ...more
What a fantastic book. Charming. A very fast read, but I think to fully grasp it, it would require deep study. So I'm definitely going to buy it, so I can spend more time with it. So far I've read two Japanese authors this year, both new to me. I gave both books 5 stars. I've read 28 books this year, and so far only 3 of them are 5-star reads.

Her characters are so real, and the story rings so true, even though the idea of a person with an 80-minute memory seems a bit far-fetched. I can't describ
If it weren't for my goodread friends I'd never know about this little gem! I bet 50 years from now it'll be a classic. It's not on 1001 books to read before you die, but it should be.

A housekeeper accepts an assignment to care for a mathematics professor who can't remember more than 80 minutes at a time as a result of a car accident. Would you be able to clean, cook, wash, etc around a man who 6 or 7 times a day re-introduces himself to you without going batty? As a cook, wouldn't you be tempt
Кремена Михайлова
Отдавна не бях слушала камерна музика. С тази книга се случи. Камерна не само заради триото - всичко на всичко трима герои (плюс една втора цигулка от време на време). Камерна книжка и заради стила. Няма дълги изречения или безкрайни описания. Като със ситни стъпчици на японка върви повествованието. Спокойно като атмосферата в къщичката на Професора. Без онзи излишен шум, наречен суета, без излишно бъбрене или прекомерно бурни емоции, положителни или отрицателни. На моменти сдържано типично по я ...more
Che se poi ti rimane l’odore dell’aglio sulle dita, non è detto poi, sia così sgradevole

È confortante sapere che esiste una nazione il cui popolo e la delicatezza si sono inventati a vicenda. Sì, mio giovane amico, sto parlando del Giappone. No, in effetti non ci sono mai stata, ma ho letto parecchie cose che provengono da questa landa sconosciuta. In effetti, a volte basta leggere molto, per farsi un’idea su un’intera nazione.

E mi ero quasi convinta che in me, albergasse lo spirito di un camion
Stan Murai
The original Japanese title of Yoko Ogawa's 小川 洋子 novel The Housekeeper and the Professor is 博士の愛した数式 (hakase no ai shita suushiki), literally "The Professor's Beloved Equation". One day,the housekeeper who narrates the story is dispatched to the house of the professor, a former mathematician who can only retain new memories for only 80 minutes because of a brain injury. At first, she is frustrated to find that he only loves mathematics and shows no interest in anyone or anything else. However, ...more

After reading the book summary, I drew an interest in this book because it sounded a little bit like 50 First Dates (one of my favorite movies). The story is about a math professor whose memory only lasts 80 minutes, and the housekeeper who takes care of him. Sadly, this book was anything but the magical and charming love story that all the reviews gave it.

Throughout the book, we never learn anyone's name, as everyone goes by The Housekeeper, Root, The Professor, and The Widow. The math part of

Joan Winnek
About halfway through. Intriguing. Most of the math I understand, and I've forgotten algebra. My experience of my husband's post stroke cognitive decline, especially abrupt in recent months, makes me aware of short-term memory loss, and as I have become more disabled in the past seven months I know the challenges of caregiving and having to find help. The three main characters are touchingly portrayed.

I finished the book today, and I did enjoy it all the way through and want to read more of Ogam
What a wonderful little book. How can a book which only shares the given name of one charachter, talks about math theories and problems so far over my head that I see stars AND talks about baseball and I'm not a sports fan at all be such a charming book. It is, it just is. I will not spoil it, just pick it up and give it a try. It's very short in pages but thick in love, caring and touching your heart.
Elizabeth A
I loved the premise of this story: A math Professor has suffered a traumatic brain injury and and cannot remember anything later than 1975. He does have short term memory, but only in 80 minute loops. The tape erases and starts over every 80 minutes. The Housekeeper, who is the narrator of the story, is hired to take care of him, and she has a ten year old son.

This slim Japanese novel is less than 200 pages long, and I really liked how the story explores "what it means to live in the present, an
A perfect little novel. A housekeeper goes to work for a math professor who, due to a previous head injury, can only remember things for 80 minutes. He can remember everything up to his head injury, but everything that happens after that can be remembered only for 80 minutes, and then it disappears as if it had never happened. He covers his clothes in post-it notes that serve as reminders for him. The most important one says "my memory is only eighty minutes long" and he wears this on his sleeve ...more
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Yōko Ogawa (小川 洋子) was born in Okayama, Okayama Prefecture, graduated from Waseda University, and lives in Ashiya. Since 1988, she has published more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction. Her novel The Professor and his Beloved Equation has been made into a movie. In 2006 she co-authored „An Introduction to the World's Most Elegant Mathematics“ with Masahiko Fujiwara, a mathematician, as a ...more
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“Solving a problem for which you know there’s an answer is like climbing a mountain with a guide, along a trail someone else has laid. In mathematics, the truth is somewhere out there in a place no one knows, beyond all the beaten paths. And it’s not always at the top of the mountain. It might be in a crack on the smoothest cliff or somewhere deep in the valley.” 47 likes
“He treated Root exactly as he treated prime numbers. For him, primes were the base on which all other natural numbers relied; and children were the foundation of everything worthwhile in the adult world” 30 likes
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