# Community Book Connection Proposal Form Proposed by Dr Karen Wallace Clinical Counselor Part I—Basic Book Information 1 Title of Book The Housekeeper and the Professor 2 Author Yoko O by rdp42626

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```									Community Book Connection Proposal Form
Proposed by: Dr. Karen Wallace, Clinical Counselor

Part I—Basic Book Information

1. Title of Book: The Housekeeper and the Professor

2. Author: Yoko Ogawa
Translator (from Japanese): Stephen Snyder

3. Year Published: 2009

5. Is there a paperback edition? Yes. Cost: \$14

6. Book Description:

He is a brilliant math professor, with a peculiar problem – since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with
only eighty minutes of short-term memory. She is an astute young housekeeper who is hired to care for
him. Between them, a strange, beautiful relationship blossoms. Though the professor can hold new
memories for only eighty minutes, his mind is still alive with elegant math equations from the past; and
through him, the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the
housekeeper and her ten-year-old son.

The book conveys the pleasure of numbers, which provide a series of metaphors for the friendships that
develop. The most touching involves the professor and the housekeeper's son, whom she begins bringing
along to work. The professor adores her little boy – anew, everyday – and nicknames him Root because his
flat-top head reminds him of a square root sign. "He treated Root exactly as he treated prime numbers," the
housekeeper tells us. "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."

Yes, there are formulas throughout these pages, strings of numbers – real and imaginary – and explanations
of primes and logarithms, Fermat's Last Theorem and Euler's formula, but no matter how much you hated
math in high school, you can't help but be seduced by the housekeeper's enthusiasm for what she discovers.
Solving a little problem the professor sets out for her and Root, she says, "At that moment I experienced a
kind of revelation for the first time in my life, a sort of miracle. In the midst of a vast field of numbers, a
straight path opened before my eyes. A light was shining at the end, leading me on, and I knew then that it
was the path to enlightenment."

The Housekeeper and the Professor is an enchanting story about what it means to live in the present, and
about the curious equations that can create “family.”
7. Blurbs and Endorsements:

“Highly original. Infinitely charming. And ever so touching."--Paul Auster
"Deceptively elegant . . . This is one of those books written in such lucid, unpretentious language that
reading it is like looking into a deep pool of clear water. But even in the clearest waters can lurk currents
you don’t see until you are in them. Dive into Yoko Ogawa’s world . . . and you find yourself tugged by
forces more felt than seen."--Dennis Overbye, The New York Times Book Review
“…Yoko Ogawa’s The Housekeeper and the Professor has sold more than 2.5 million copies in the small island
nation [of Japan]. Oprah would have to recommend a book about Harry Potter’s dying Labrador to move
that many copies in the United States. . . . The Housekeeper and the Professor is strangely charming, flecked
with enough wit and mystery to keep us engaged throughout. This is Ogawa’s first novel to be translated
into English, and Stephen Snyder has done an exceptionally elegant job."--Ron Charles, The Washington Post
Yoko Ogawa's fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, and Zoetrope. Since 1988 she has
published more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction, and has won every major Japanese literary
award.

Part II—What Makes This Book a Good CBC Selection

1. Describe how it contains multiple themes that lend themselves to use by various departments and
functions throughout the college.

The central theme of this book is the value and joy of learning – how even challenging life events can
provide an opportunity for growth if we are willing to reframe our thinking and biases.
Related themes include: appreciating mathematics as a universal language – logical, beautiful, poetic, even
spiritual; social aspects of traumatic brain injury; psychology of relationships; meaning of family and
friendship; relating to those who are different or have disabilities; understanding giftedness; interpersonal
communication; contemporary Japanese culture and society; and building connections through a shared
interest – like professional baseball.
These themes relate to disciplines across the college: Arts & Humanities, Biological & Physical Sciences,
Mathematics, Social & Behavioral Sciences, Information Technology, and Wellness & Health.

2. Is it at an accessible level for our students? Yes. Grade level: General/trade.

3. Detail the way in which it is conducive to event planning.

   The President might speak on the joy and value of reading – for both enrichment and pleasure.
   The VP of Instruction might host a learning fair with faculty representatives from the six schools to
demonstrate the value of learning in each of the disciplines.
   The VP of Enrollment and Student Services might host a college resources fair with representatives from
student development to showcase services available to support student learning and success.
   Arts & Humanities faculty might speak on Japanese art, dance, literature, music, theater, and language –
and host trips to Japanese cultural events in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
   A neuroscientist might speak about the human brain as it relates to memory, memory loss, and
traumatic brain injury.
   A panel of Math faculty might instruct students on how to apply the principles of mathematical
modeling to sports, gambling, and baseball – and illustrate the value of statistics in predicting outcomes.
   STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) might host a family night of math and memory
games.
   Social & Behavioral Sciences faculty might speak on Japanese society, the role of women, effects of
globalization on business and the economy, and views on family, aging, and raising children.
   Health and PE faculty might speak on the history of Japanese baseball and how it differs from the
American game – perhaps concluding with a trip to an Orioles game.
   Stephen Snyder, who teaches Japanese Literature at Middlebury College (VT), might be invited to
present on his experience translating the book from Japanese.

4. Does it have a related theatre or film piece?

Yes. Book was made into a movie in Japan (2006) – winning awards for Best Film Score and Best Director
and nominated for Best Actor award. Theme is similar to one in the popular American movie, “Fifty First
Dates” (2004) – a romantic comedy featuring a man afraid of commitment who thinks he’s met the woman
of his dreams until discovering she has short-term memory loss and forgets him the very next day. For more
information on both films, as well as ones like “Proof” (2005), “Memento” (2000), and “A Beautiful Mind”
(2001) – movies about the challenges of memory loss or mental illness within the context of mathematics,
refer to www.imdb.com.

5. Explain the ways that the book is related to current social issues.

Book underscores the value of learning and getting an education – a theme that can be applied across all
disciplines and is so essential in today’s interdependent and changing world.
Book also reflects the challenges of diversity – relating to people who are different from us – a problem we
confront everyday in our global world.
The Professor – with post-it notes covering his suit – highlights the feelings of information overload so
prevalent in society today.
The Housekeeper – whose selfless service to family is greater than the sum of its parts – provides guidance
for everyday living.
Root, the housekeeper’s son – represents the joy of youth and promise of the future and reinforces the
importance of tending the roots of humanity. Good parents give children both roots and wings. Roots are
built on a sense of belonging to a family. The tending of Root reminds us to nurture the youthful
generations as they provide the roots of humanity and nourishment for the future.

6. Describe how it is tied into existing CCBC events.

Book reinforces the concept of resilience – a theme central to last year’s CBC selection – “A Long Way
Gone.” Resilience can be applied to any challenging life event and is not limited to one discipline.
Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant
sources of stress – such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and
financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences and can be an opportunity for
positive growth – e.g., sense of greater inner strength, better relationships with others, more willingness to
explore new possibilities, spiritual development, and a heightened appreciation for the value of life.
Existing college initiatives – speakers, lectures, and self-development activities – might focus on strategies
for building resilience.

7. Is it relatively short? Yes. Pages: 180

8. Has this text been used successfully in the classroom? Book has been community book selection in public
libraries, as well as in reading groups.

K W Wallace
February 26, 2010

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