Saturday, March 28, 2009

Three Cups of Tea
by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Three Cups of Tea portrays the Pakistan and Afghanistan that the mainstream media won't. It explains how one man, through a failed attempt at climbing K2 discovered maybe the only way to fight the war on terror, by providing an unbiased education to the poor of this part of the world. He explains how the madrassas have recuited the poor men of the region to their Muslim extremist schools, sponsored by millions of Saudi oil money. He firmly believes, and the educator in me agrees, that educating women and girls and providing a balanced education (determined not by the US, but by local leaders) for men and boys is the only way to stop the war on terror, around the world.

The man behind the building of schools in Central Asia is just as interesting as his ideas.
After being injured climbing K2, he is nursed back to health in a small village. He sees the extreme poverty and makes a promise to the village leaders that he will return and build them a proper school. What he doesn't realize is that this is just the beginning and it won't be easy. The underlying story of this memoir, is don't give up. so many times it would have been easy for Greg to just say it's not worth it anymore. From the times he lived in his car trying to raise money for his first school, to the death threats he and his family received afer 9/ll, he always believed in what he was doing and that people would see the value in his work. Many of his friends believe he will win the Nobel Peace Prize someday and after reading this book, I believe they just might be right.

Rating - B

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Here on Earth
by Alice Hoffman

It took me a LONG time to get through Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman. I picked this book up and put it down again at least 3 times over a three year period. I put it on my Spring Reading Thing list to force myself to finish it. I picked it up Saturday afternoon and finished it in a little less than 2 hours. When I finished, I couldn't remember why I didn't like it to begin with!

The one thing that kept me trying to read the book several times was the vivid sense of place. The author painted a vivid picture of New England in the fall and winter. You could feel the cold, see the marsh grasses blowing in the howling wind and hear the foxes running through the woods. The character development, while slow, is in depth, wiht the strenghts and flaws of the character finally revealed, making the book the better for it.

The story had several plot lines involving a variet ofmemorable characters that aonly really came together at the end of the book. this is a story about trying to come home and recapter old memories and feelings and the reality that you can't come home again (no matter what Jon Bon Jovi says). When March comes back to Fox Hill upon the death of Judith and discovers the love of her life, Hollis has returned as well, she convinces herself that things can be the way they were years ago. Interwoven among the story of March and Hollis is the story of the Judge, his wife and the years long affair he had, the twisted relationship of the town drunk, his son and Hollis. And finally, the underlying story of Hollis's first wife, the sister of March's husband. With the dysfuctionality and views illustrated in the novel, it could have been set in the American South. the secrets and family relationships that Hoffman creates are worthy of a piece of southern literature.

Overall, I recommend the book. I ended up liking it, once the pieces began to fall in place. One reason I would recommend this book is that in th 3 days since I have finished the book, I am still thinking about the characters and questioning why they did the things they did. As this was the first book I have read by Alice Hoffman, I will probably read her work again, hoping to find the same vivid writing and strong character development.

Rating - C+

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What's On Your Nightstand - March 2009

What's On Your Nightstand

Current -

Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian
This is our book club pick for April

Just Finished -

Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson- both previously started and I challenged myself to finish them as part of Callapider Days Spring Reading Thing

Next Up -

Beyond the White House by Jimmy Carter
I am a post-Presidency Jimmy Carter fan. I am impressed with his work with Habitat for Humanity and the irradication of diseases brought on by the guinea worm in Africa. His influence on the Middle East peace process was certainly Nobel Prize worthy. I am looking forward to reading about these endeavors from his perspective.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My books for the Spring Reading challenge....

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Reading Thing

Katrina at Callapidder Days is hosting her Spring Reading Thing and since I have a HUGE stack of books in progress and even larger stack of books I want to read I thought I would join in.

Here is my list...


1. Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman - I have been reading this one for years, seriously, and it is certainly time to finish it.

2. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - a dear student gave me this book as a gift and it is time to read it.

3. Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson - sounds good and has been sitting on my shelf too long.

4. Skeletons at the Feast: A Novel by Chris Bohjalian - this is our book club pick for April

5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows - book club pick for May

6. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi - book club pick for June

7. The Venetian Betrayal by Steve Berry - one of my favorite authors. I have been wanting to read this for awhile now.


1. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson - I have been reading this one for months and I really want to finish it!

2. Why Geography Matters by Harm de Blij - background reading for the high school course I teach

3. Beyond the White House by Jimmy Carter - I am a post -Presidency Jimmy Carter fan and I enjoy his writing style.

4. The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller - recommeded read on developing the love of reading in children and students, sounds really interesting.

That is a total of 11 books, not many by the standards of most, but considering that I have only finished 3 books in 2009, it is a lot for me. I have lost my reading mojo and really hope this challenge will help me get it back. We shall see......