Reading is one of my obsessions passions. I read so much as a kid that most of my books had wavy pages from dropping them in the sink while brushing my teeth. I even tried reading in the shower by propping the book open on the toiletries bar until I started getting headaches from the low light.
It got to the point that my dad banned me from bringing books into the bathroom because I was taking too long to get ready for bed. He would do a visual check before I went in. Fortunately, he didn’t pat me down, because I learned to stick my book into the waistband of my pajama pants.
My love for books has carried over into adulthood and is now spilling from the six bookcases in our house. I’d like to share the love, so I’ve decided to add a new section to Mowenackie called, In The Bookcase. Please feel free to read, browse or ignore my book reviews and ramblings.
And I’d love to hear what you’re reading, too, so post a comment or drop me a line!
Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
In the months before T deployed for Afghanistan, we saw this book displayed prominently each time we went into a bookstore. I would point it out to him saying, “Honey, you should read this book before you go.” He would smile patronizingly at the silly civilian and head to the Fantasy/Sci-Fi section. I would stick my tongue out at him and, having expressed my feelings in a mature and productive way, wander off to look at what was new in teen fiction (making my former literary professors proud).
Lo and behold, a few weeks into the deployment, T called me from Camp Atterbury to tell me that as part of an officers’ enrichment program there was a booklist and Three Cups of Tea was on it. He’d read it and it was “pretty good”.
“Wow!” I said encouragingly, but with perhaps too much enthusiasm. “That’s fantastic! I wish I had thought of that!”
I did NOT, however, say, I told you so. Because I’m mature that way.
A couple of months later I bought the book for myself. A couple of weeks after that I picked it up and read the introduction. Then I put the book down and reread the entire Harry Potter series.
The moral of that story is, don’t read the introduction.
If you skip that, you’ll be fine. Feel free to go back and read it after you’ve finished the book, though. It has more credibility once you have the evidence that Mr. Mortenson is, indeed, an uncommon man.
The rest of the book tells the story of how Greg Mortenson’s failed attempt at summiting K2, the world’s second highest mountain, brought him into the Korphe village in northern Pakistan. Once he regained strength enough to explore the village, he discovered that the “school” was simply a clearing where children scratched math problems in the dirt with sticks and were taught only three days a week by a shared teacher.
Mortenson promised to build a school for the children of this remote area where the people had shown him such kindness and hospitality, despite their obvious poverty. The book details his intense struggle to keep that promise and to go beyond it by continuing to build schools for other remote villages, both in Pakistan and later, in Afghanistan.
“Dr. Greg’s” unwavering determination is inspiring, but what are more moving are the glimpses into the hearts and lives of the people of Pakistan: the patience of Haji Ali and the courage of his granddaughter, Jahan; the fierce loyalty of Faisal Baig; the shifty cunning of Changazi. These people, and many others, share Mortenson’s views on the importance of education. It is education, argues Mortenson, that is the key to a productive future for the children of Afghanistan and Pakistan – one where they are less likely to tote a banner of hate. One where they can support themselves instead of the Taliban.
Three Cups of Tea is a smooth read and offers an insightful look into tribal and religious customs. As someone with a vested interest in the area, I was happy to learn more about it.
I give this book four out of five paws.