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Three Cups of Tea

March 31, 2009

I haven’t written any book reviews since I started my goal of reading 101 books in 1,001 Days. Considering I just finished book ten, something tells me I might not meet my goal. But I’m going to try!

My last book that I read was Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book, even though all I had read was great reviews. It’s odd to start reading a book thinking you’re going to love it and then discover that – 10 pages in – you don’t. I kinda felt like a failure. Something was wrong with me. But I knew this book was worthwhile for a reason, so I kept reading. The book, for those who haven’t read it, is about a mountain climber, Greg, who after failing to scale the most difficult mountain in the world (K2 in Pakistan), is rescued by a poor village in the middle of the mountains. Seeing their conditions, he decides to build them a school. From there, he decides to build a school in poor areas all across Pakistan, and into Afghanistan. This was, of course, in the 1990s, and there was a lot of danger and challenges with the Taliban and radical Muslims who thought he was an infidel and threatened to stop Greg from accomplishing his goal.

I read it on the train to and from work for about a month. Because of this, I barely got more than a chapter done each way. Sometimes I just didn’t read it at all. It was slow in the beginning. There’s some jargon about mountain climbing that I didn’t understand, and references to locations in Pakistan that I couldn’t remember. They all had long names that I couldn’t easily pronounce in my head, which made retaining them difficult.

When it got to the part where Greg met his wife, I perked up a bit. I know it’s probably the most unfeminist thing to say, but having a lady character and some character tension helped the plot. Before that, it was all physical and financial struggles that kept Greg, the main character, from building the schools. I felt it picked up more in the middle. That’s when the political and cultural differences entered more into the story, with the battles between India and Pakistan, and the creation of the institutions for radical Muslims. Since I was more familiar with those events, it was easier for me to relate and reference.

Then 9/11 happened. Reading about how an American dealt with 9/11 in Pakistan and Afghanistan was probably my favorite part. It was not at all how you might imagine. Because Greg become close friends with so many people over there, and really built up a reputation as a friend, his experiences were very different than our own. His message was about peace and tolerance, and even though he received hate mail from thousands of people, he never stopped his mission of educating children – especially girls – in Pakistan. At the end of the book, he moves in Afghanistan, and the accounts that he and his co-author share are very inspirational and show what I believe to be a truer picture of what went on in the part of the world during a time when we were very focused on our own country and borders.

Greg is still building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and he goes on tour as well. His organization is called the Central Asia Institute. You can visit their website to learn more and donate to the cause. I encourage everyone to read the book, and try not to let the slow beginning get to you (well, it was slow to me, you may feel differently).

Next up: Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides. It’s Erik’s favorite book, so he lent it to me. I have only read the first, oh, 10 pages or so, but it has some very interesting characters.

You can visit my profile on Goodreads to see my reviews of past books. If you’re on Goodreads, please add me!

  1. March 31, 2009 2:48 PM

    Couldn’t get through Three Cups, so I totally admire you for keeping up with it. Middlesex, though, is one of my top ten favorite books (and I’m telling you now, if you don’t like it I WILL STOP ADMIRING YOU.)


    • March 31, 2009 2:57 PM

      Woah. Stop admiring me? Well, first, you’d have to admire me, which I find totally awesome and I’m completely humbled. Second, really, you’d stop admiring me if I don’t like the book… Uh… I… I love it! It’s awesome! I haven’t even read it and it’s awesome! LOL.

  2. March 31, 2009 2:54 PM

    I agree. Three Cups was soooooo highly recommended by everyone; yet I found it to be dull and drawn out. Ended up skipping ahead 20 pages; reading one page; skipping ahead 30 pages and so on 🙂 since I knew the person who loaned me the book was going to ask me about it 😀

    • March 31, 2009 2:58 PM

      I wanted to do that at the beginning… I was like, “Would you just build the freaking schools already?” But when there was more drama going on, like when he was kidnapped or when they were talking about how people in Pakistan were dealing with the aftermath of the Taliban and 9/11, I have to admit, I teared up…

  3. March 31, 2009 6:32 PM

    I had a hard time getting into Three Cups of Tea, too. I am still only about half done, but have taken a break to read another book in the meantime. I am glad you got into it, though. Hopefully it will happen to me, too!

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