No, I have not finished reading War and Peace.

But I did finish the January 2012 selection for my book club in just four days. The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa and translated by Stephen Snyder is a slim novel and a quick read. It’s also kind of wonderful.

It’s hard for me to describe just how much I loved this book and exactly why I loved it so. The prose is spare and elegant. The characters are few. I suppose I related to the tale of a single mother raising a son on her own. But I’m far from a housekeeper (and thank God for that, because I’m not very neat). And there’s no parallel in my life to the Professor and his memory problem.

In the end, I think it’s my own love for math that made me love this book. There was something so appealing to me about math  being used as a universal language, connecting people together who struggled to communicate through the more traditional means of small talk. Considering how much time I spend with the written word, it might surprise you that I love numbers just as much, if not more. My math score on the SAT was higher than my verbal (bear in mind, this was back when the SAT only consisted of Math and Verbal, not like its present-day counterpart).

I can’t really explain it. I loved this book. To understand why, you have to read it, too. And you’ll either love it like I did or you’ll wonder what the big deal is. I can’t even guess which reaction is more likely.