Reading by Numbers

No, this is not a blog on guessing weight or height. Nor it is one about lotteries winners or numerology. It just happens that I have read a few book lately that the titles are numbers. So hopefully, a number of these books may attract your attention as they did mine.
Reading by Numbers 419 (M) is the 2012 Giller Prize winner by Will Ferguson. Ferguson, a three time Leacock Medal winning Canadian writer, is best known for his humorous observations of Canadian history and culture. With 419, Ferguson has written a thrilling novel that crosses international territories and cultural lines. Advance Fee Frauds are internationally know as 419, after the section of the Nigerian Penal Code which addresses fraud schemes. Canadian Henry Curtis, a retired schoolteacher, gets trapped in one of these schemes. His daughter takes it upon herself to investigate the person who did this, going as far as to travel to Nigeria herself. 
Woven in this investigation is the story of three young Nigerians. Winston’s story (the person committing the fraud) I understood from the beginning. Amina’s story was more difficult to fit into the plot. In fact I could not figure out how she fit in the story until the very end. I have long been interested in Nigeria and I really enjoyed the story Ferguson has woven about this rich and complex nation.
Reading by Numbers A great number of our library patron’s are familiar with Twenty-Six (M) by Leo McKay, as it was the 2012 One Book Nova Scotia selection. Just like 419, this novel is as much about the place as it is about the characters. It is inspired by the infamous Westray Disaster in 1992 which resulted in the death of 26 miners. McKay has fictionalized the disaster by calling the mine Eastyard and the town Albion Mines, which is is what Stellerton used to be called. Arvel Burrows is one of the 26 miners who dies in the explosion. His younger brother, Ziv, is the driving force of the novel. While the first and final words in the novel are death and life, readers will find so much more in the words in between.
Reading by Numbers In The 500 (M) by Matthew Quirk, the major theme is that everyone has a price. Mike Ford is an outsider to his co-workers in The Davies Group, a powerful consulting firm for Washington’s top 500 influential people. He is the son of a convicted felon and has grown up surrounded by crime. Henry Davies uses Mike’s street smarts to pull off a major deal. How much of a price is Mike is willing pay to become “legit” becomes the question. Quirk has been compared to John Grisham and I can see it in the style and the quick pace of this novel
Reading by Numbers 6 (M) by Jim Crace (published in the U.S. under the title Genesis) reminds me of the movie Starbuck. Starbuck is about a sperm donor whose 500+ children try to find out who he is. Well, 6 does not go that far but it does feature a man who is very fertile. Actor Felix Dean is famous and admired for his looks and voice. But his perfect life is not so perfect. Every woman that he sleeps with bears his child. Felix is a timid man, therefore this only results in 6 children and thus the title. The novel revolves his relationship of each of the women and also the city in which they reside, the City of Kisses. Don’t you just love that name.
Reading by Numbers I have always been interested in psychological fiction. I find serial killers are fascinating to read about whether in fiction or non fiction. I admit that I did pick up Think of a Number (M) by John Verdon because of the cleverness of the cover. The novel presents an unique method of committing a crime. NYC detective, Dave Gurney, has captured big serial killers in his past. The last thing he expected in his retirement years was for his quiet life to be shattered. His friend receives taunting letters over a period of weeks that state” Think of any number…picture it…now see how well I know your secrets.” The letter writer has predicted their random choices exactly. I found this novel a real page-turner that had me guessing right to the end.
So even those these are not the winning lottery numbers you may find good fortune in reading one (or two) of these novels!


Urban Bites – a bit underwhelming

ATV Riders Lost, Then Found