The housekeeper and the professor by Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder A novel translated from the Japanese, where nothing much happens and prime numbers play a central role, may not sound like the most relaxing summer read.
Imagine a biologist trying to deduce the life cycle of an unknown creature by observing it just long enough to witness four beats of its heart. Nowadays, we know the Sun follows an eleven-year cycle, so even lifelong professional astronomers are likely to witness no more than four of its pulsations. Solar astronomy is truly a multigenerational science and its beginnings are brilliantly summarised in Stuart Clark's story, built around the greatest magnetic storm ever recorded.
If the quest for a physical theory of everything, and some of the strange concepts that have sprung from it, strikes you as somewhat mystical, then this is just the book you need to explore the idea further.
The Magic Numbers of the Professor revolves around a fictional professor and a huge range of magical numbers. Written in a narrative style, the book documents a series of visits the Professor makes from America to Ireland to visit Owen O'Shea, the author of both this book and a fictional column within the story.