Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Four Books

It's rainy and cool out today, which means it's the perfect weather to talk about books.

[Note:  Other perfect types of weather for book discussions:  Snowy, windy, drizzly, sunny, cloudy, and stormy weather.  It is always The Right Time to talk about books.  Unless you want to stop talking and read instead.  In that case, you're excused with my blessing.]

Here are my most recent favorites:

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

Joanne Harris must be some kind of magician, because she somehow took a story about a distant, cold, possibly mentally ill mother and Nazis and haunting secrets set in WWII occupied France and made it loving and poignant and very, very readable.  It doesn't pretend to be the frolicsome Rainbow Brite of novels, yet it never feels unnecessarily dark.  I need to go back and read her previous book Chocolat because in my estimation, there are less than ten movies that I'm willing to watch over and over again; the film version of Chocolat is one of them.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Don Tillman is an Australian professor with a flourishing career, research he enjoys, and a few select friends, but he still feels something is missing:  a companion, specifically, a wife.  Because traditional spouse-finding means have been unsuccessful, he decided to do what comes naturally to him, and embarks on The Wife Project, where he takes a scientific approach to finding a mate.  Mr. Simsion is yet another authorial magician, as he somehow manages to take a protagonist whose disparate traits should make him utterly unlikable, but instead you feel compassion and sympathy and such strong affection for this man who surely, surely is on the autism spectrum (friends who have already read this book:  Don does have Asperger's, right?  I mean, Simsion never comes right out and says it, but all signs point to Asperger's, are we agreed?  Or is this another one of those instances where I'm like "Pretty crazy about Aberforth and his inappropriate affections for goats, huh?" and everyone looks at me like I have finally once and for all lost my mind.  And if you don't know what I'm referring to, then you need to read the Harry Potter series again so we can discuss this ad nauseam).

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

I've recommended this book to two friends so far: one who is one of those (lovely) freaks who likes numbers and reading; and another who says she loves to read, but just doesn't have the time.  She requested a recommendation for a book that was:  short, relatively clean, not too depressing, but not too brainless, either.  This was the book I suggested for her, a story set in Japan of a housekeeper who goes to work for a mathematics professor/savant whose memory can only retain the most recent 80 minutes, and the relationship this housekeeper and her young son develop with the mathematician despite the fact that every morning, it's like he's meeting them for the first time.  Charming and thought-provoking.

An Otis Christmas written and illustrated by Loren Long

Yes, this is a children's picture book, but I couldn't leave out the book that I wept through while trying to read it to a bemused Caedmon yesterday morning.
We love the Otis the Tractor books, but this one was new to me, and I obviously wasn't ready for the drama and wonder of a pregnant mare in danger of losing her foal on Christmas Eve and Otis learning that the most important thing about Christmas isn't gifts at all.  (Oh boy.  Here we go again.)
The illustrations are beautiful and endearing, the story itself is a delightful punch to the ventricles.  I just love this book.  


  1. I love your book recommendations. I'm adding these to my list. Especially "The Housekeeper and the Professor" because what I need right now is exactly a short, clean, not too depressing but not brainless book to read. Thanks!

  2. Hi Crislers,

    I like your recommendations, but the book which i like the most is An Otis Christmas because it is about Christmas which i like the most. can you suggest me some more children story books.

  3. Hurray for books, which we love in every type of weather!

    Yes, yes, Don certainly is on the autism spectrum and I love him. I am eagerly awaiting the sequel. Did you not find the book hilarious? I thoroughly enjoyed it and found him so endearing. Then again, I know a couple of "Dons" in real life, so perhaps I just transferred those feelings to this character.

    Adding The Housekeeper and the Professor to my list. . .

  4. You've just added several books to my reading list and I haven't even finished Jen Hatmaker's book yet!
    My baby is 15 years old and my oldest & his wife haven't yet made any announcements, so it may be a while before I read the children's book. I'd ask if you were feeling hormonal at the time but I still cry every time I read the book, I Love You Forever.


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