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The Housekeeper and the Professor

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  24,639 ratings  ·  4,127 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
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Paperback, 180 pages
Published February 3rd 2009 by Picador (first published August 2003)
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3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  24,639 ratings  ·  4,127 reviews


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Brina
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Happy Cubs opening day! 2018 has not been the reading year I had planned on so far. Real life and the stress that goes with it have gotten in the way of being able to focus on reading. Hopefully that changes. In the meantime in honor of the Cubs first home game this year, I am reposting my favorite baseball book from last year, a lovely novella that I am fortunate did not fly under my radar.

The Housekeeper and the Professor was recommended to me by my Goodreads' friend Diane because she knows t
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BlackOxford
Life by the Numbers

Numbers are everywhere - Real, Natural, Imaginary, Perfect, Amicable, Abundant, Deficient, Triangular, Prime (including both Mersenne and Pernicious as well as Twins) to name a few. And they're all here in The Housekeeper and the Professor, which Ms. Ogawa wrote in 2007. The Professor is of mathematics and has amnesia; the housekeeper is devoted and has a son. This melange constitutes the cast of a charming story of mathematics and love, subjects with a connection that is less
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Sue
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
Lori
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
description
Amicable numbers – pair of keyrings Nerd Romance (https://mathsgear.co.uk/products/amic...)

Not that kind of love story, but a sad, sweet story about an unlikely friendship between a brilliant mathematician, his housekeeper and her son. There is love just no romance.

The Professor is 64 years old. He suffered a brain injury at age 47. He has an 80-minute retention for new memories ever since his accident. He covers his suit in notes to remember new information. He loves math, numbers, children an
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PorshaJo
A wonderful, heart-warming story about unlikely friendships....and math...and baseball! I decided to grab this one for my Japanese reading challenge for 2018 and it was the perfect story to begin reading. It's heavy into math, which I must say, I'm a bit rusty on. I was at one time fascinated by numbers, going to the highest level of math courses in college, and working for my college math professor. But then...I just lost interest in numbers (as along came computers! Nerd!)

The story is of the f
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Agnieszka
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, japan, 2017, ebook

The Housekeeper and the Professor is a charming and enjoyable novella about eponymous Professor of mathematics who due to accident years earlier suffers from peculiar form of amnesia and while he remembers everything from the past his current memory lasts only eighty minutes, and as a reminder of this fact he has fitting note pinned to his suit. In fact Professor has plenty notes on him that rustle when he walks. It also is a story about his housekeeper, young single mother and her son named b
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Cecily
An enjoyable Japanese novel that scatters numbers, and facts about the brain, though it's primarily about friendship. It feels light, but prompts profound questions.

The sit

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 only remembers the most recent 80 minutes, plus things before 1975, nearly 20 years before the story is set (~1992)
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Margitte
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With only 192 pages, it is a breeze. A delightful pause. A little gem of fantasmagoric proportions. An ode to maths. And a Dennis The Menace- moment in nostalgia.

The Dennis The Menace-moment.(view spoiler)
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
Everyone and their mother read this last year for Women in Translation month (August 2016), and I remember finding my own copy at the annual literacy book sale. I set it aside for WIT month this year and was happy to pull it back out.

The housekeeper is a single parent, trying to make enough to live on, and the professor is a mathematician with a failing memory. The story is about connection and care but also MATH and anyone who knows me knows I'm a sucker for math. The professor can't remember p
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Petal Eggs
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
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
Michael
This tale charms us with the friendship that develops between a young housekeeper and her 12-year old son with an elderly recluse and former mathematics professor. Though he can’t retain new memories beyond 80 minutes, his 50-plus years of skills developed as a mathematician prior to the accident and brain damage that disabled him are still accessible to him. These skills he creatively puts to use each day trying to figure out and live in whatever social world of people falls his way as if anew. ...more
Kelly
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
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Dem
Aug 10, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5 Star

The Housekeeper + The Professor by Yoko Ogawa is a heart-warming story about a housekeeper, a professor and the housekeeper’s ten year old son but also and most importantly a story about what it means to live in the present, and about friendships, family and respect and a little Math thrown in for good measure.

"He is a brilliant maths professor who lives with only eighty minutes of short-term memory. She is a sensitive and astute young housekeeper who is entrusted to take care of him"

T
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Trish
Feb 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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Teresa
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.5

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
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Connie G
Aug 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a lovely story where kindness turns unrelated people into a family. The Housekeeper is hired to cook and keep house for a Professor of mathematics who had a traumatic brain injury after a car accident. Although the Professor can remember events that happened before the TBI, this injury resulted in his short-term memory lasting only eighty minutes. It seems like they are meeting for the first time every day.

The Housekeeper and her ten year old son interact quite well with the professor s
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Ashley
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Megan
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a delightful story about a single mother, who was also a professional housekeeper and her 10 year old son Root, befriending her new employer, a retired math professor, who due to a tragic accident is left with the ability to only retain information for eighty minutes, before it vanishes from his memory. This was such a uplifting book about the strong bond of friendship and how beautifully the housekeeper, the professor and Root all truly became better versions of themselves from this ne ...more
Chrissie
Apr 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Suzy
Apr 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This slim book hit all the right notes for me. I love stories about "found family", in this case a brilliant mathematician with an 80-minute memory from a decades-ago accident, a housekeeper hired to clean and cook for him and her 10-year-old son. I love stories about baseball and it was so fun getting a glimpse of what baseball in Japan is like, especially right at the start of our baseball season and right after we had played Japan in the World Baseball Classic. And baseball helped bring these ...more
Tsung
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It gets depressing when all you read is about tragedy, conflict, injustice, loss or regret. Then a feel good book comes along like a breath of fresh air. This is a charming, bittersweet story, and unexpectedly so. I was initially drawn in by the plot, the Professor, who after a traffic accident is unable to retain any new memories longer than 80 minutes. While this quirky device supports the entire story, it is not the star. There were numerous explanations of mathematical puzzles and facts and ...more
Laysee
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Laysee by: Tsung
Imagine going to work and having to introduce yourself afresh to your employer every day. Will it drive you crazy if the first question you had to answer at the door each day is “What’s your shoe size?” ?

A housekeeper, a single mother with a 10-year-old son, finds herself at the cottage of a 64-year-old Math professor who has had nine housekeepers before her. She expects a difficult client, but what she least expects is an affection that develops into a strong friendship.

The Professor suffered a
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Fiona
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Fiona by: Laura
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
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Book Concierge
Audiobook performed by Cassandra Campbell.
5***** and a ❤

A housekeeper is sent by her agency to the home of a problematic client. A blue star is stamped on the client’s card each time a housekeeper has to be replaced, and the Professor’s card already has nine stars. But she prides herself on her professionalism. The Professor lives in a small cottage next to a larger mansion occupied by his brother’s widow. A few years before he suffered a brain injury in an automobile accident and as a result hi
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Diane Barnes
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The poetry of mathematics and the beauty of baseball are two phrases I would never have uttered before reading this book. A math equation makes my eyes glaze over, and I think baseball is the second most boring sport to watch. (Golf is #1). But like all great literature, this novel caused something inside me to shift and change.
The four characters in this tale are nameless, known only by their titles of Professor, Housekeeper, Sister-in-law, and Root, the housekeeper's 10 year old son, so nickna
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Aparna
Nice short tale of a professor who was passionate of maths and has developed a memory problem in the later years of his life...
The tale is effortlessly narrated by the housekeeper who observes the nuances of the everyday life with the professor. And Maths takes a whole new poetic form in this book...Well one take away from this book is that it has taught me what it means to truly live in the present...Nice read !
Iris
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, reviewed, favorites
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
Ann
You do not have to love math to fall for this elegant beauty of a novel. But you may see the subject a bit differently after reading it. Mathematics is difficult for most people to love. Calculations, equations, formulas, problems, and the mysterious symbols and signs feel as if they belong in the realm of geniuses and computers, rather than to us humans of regularish intellect. Yet, if you've ever studied poetry, you know there is math involved-- numbers of lines, beats, meter, and so on. So, t ...more
Diane S ☔
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
What a wonderful and touching story, loved the realness of the characters, and how they found a common ground in the love for a young boy. Baseball and mathematics play a large part but it also explores what friendship really means and the acceptance of people that are different. Wonderfully poignant story.
Quo
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
From my angle as a reader, my expectation for The Housekeeper & the Professor by Yoko Ogawa seemed unmatched by the novel itself. The novel's premise involves a very successful Japanese mathematician who suffers a tragic accident at age 45, reducing his memory to 80 minutes, rather like an old cassette tape being erased but beginning anew each morning. In this, I was reminded of some of the tales related by Dr. Oliver Sachs about people dealing with what are called neurological deficits, som ...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
“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.” 91 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” 42 likes
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