Thursday, June 4, 2009

Three Cups of Tea

This is a really good book. I had heard a lot about it, and finally took the time to read it. I couldn't put it down, and am completely fascinated by Greg Mortenson's work. While I admire what the co-author Relin was trying to do in adding background and poetic descriptions, they were a little distracting to me.

The story of Greg wandering into a tiny village in Northern Pakistan, making a promise to build a school, then going back to California and working hard and ultimately giving up his old life to make this happen is amazing. It is entertaining and captivating all by itself. I did appreciate the background into the different villages, religions, and nationalities, but I'm still confused.

However today as I read an article about refugees in Pakistan, I had a frame of reference. It wouldn't have caught my eye a week ago. But words like "Kalashnikov rifles," "Pushtan," and "Peshawar," now have meaning in my mind. That being said, the conflicts and poverty are very hard to comprehend.

More than any other book lately, I want to talk about this one. Luckily I know enough people who have read it. I'm having a hard time knowing what to post! So I'm going to resort to lists.

What I thought was AMAZING:

  • How Greg Mortensen completely gave up his life of climbing to become a school builder. He didn't look back.
  • The story of Greg meeting and marrying his wife is almost unbelievable, but very sweet.
  • The hospitality of the Pakistani people. The way that they fix food and serve tea, then ask the questions.
  • The timing of Greg's work is so incredible, that he was there before the "madrassas" were springing up all over the place.
  • I love how his wife believes in him and has personally sacrificed so much for her husband to keep his work going.
  • When Greg is able to go back and double the salaries of the men who have served so long and hard with him!
What was frustrating to me:
  • It is always hard for me to keep characters and vocabulary that are in a foreign language straight when I read. I don't take notes the way I did in college, so there were times I would get characters confused.
  • I'm still hung up on him not taking the government's money. He did it because he wanted to protect the people he worked with. Obviously, he can do more work without having to be accountable to or babysat by the US government. BUT, if the whole point is that increasing education opportunities is the best way to fight terrorism, the government is going to need inside help. The troops can't accomplish what Greg could, they wouldn't have the contacts, the experience, all that. SO this has caused me to think a lot about it. Reading a book like this, you start to think, it should be so simple. I know it's not, and I keep thinking of HOW things could be accomplished.

And again that's why this story is so amazing. Greg saw a need and then did everything he could to fix it. Over and over again. His dedication is totally inspiring.

I recommend this whole-heartedly. I've heard a few people saying it was too boring, and I think that's because some of the details and background might seem tedious. I was so fascinated by the character, and wanted to see what he would do next, that I read it pretty quickly.


Betsy said...

I'm glad to read your insight. I was one of those who was bored to tears with the author's unnecessary ridiculously long descriptions. I thought there was a great story under there, but was too bored to continue. I saw that there is a "junior version" and may have to pick that one up.

Lori said...

We read this in book club last year. Like many, I thought the story was amazing, but the author was tedious. I admit to skimming some parts. I didn't know how to rank it on goodreads, because I loved what I learned and discovered, but wanted to pull my hair out getting there.

kim said...

hey kam,
i loved this book too! and totally agreed w/you on your likes/dislikes. i also loved the christmas card pic they sent out, a little disturbing, but funny.