I am on my second try to finish Say You’re One of Them which is on the NY Times best seller list, but maybe people are buying it and like me can’t get though it?  The first story is very depressing and the second is interminable.  Maybe I should skip on to stories three and four.

Then, mentioning to a friend that I couldn’t get through Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, she lent me his The Enchantress of Florence, which I am also plodding through.  So at the library I picked up Greg Mortenson’s Stones into Schools which is great.  (If you haven’t read Three Cups of Tea yet, do so!!  Get it from the library and report back to me in a week!)

Each night I read for a bit of Uwem Akpan (Say You’re One of Them), then Rushdie, then Mortenson to reward myself.   The countries of Africa in Say You’re One of Them and Pakistan and Afghanistan in Stones into Schools are all in incredibly disheartening straights, but Mortenson brings hope, which is why I must read it last.  And Rushdie’s names fold into Mortenson’s;  I love the lyrical names of the East:

 In his dream he was once again the caliph of Baghdad, Harun al-Rashid, wandering incognito… through the streets of the city of Isbanir.   (Rushdie)

We met in the autumn of 1999 in the village of Zuudkhan, at the far end of the Charpurson, on the night before the Kirghiz horsemen came riding over the Irshad Pass.  (Mortenson)

Of course, Rushdie is fantasy, almost poetry to an English teacher’s ear, but Mortenson is true.  And not only has he received Pakistan’s highest civil award, in 2009, for his dedicated and humanitarian effort to promote education and literacy in rural areas, but Three Cups of Tea is required reading for U.S. senior military commanders, for U.S. Special Forces deploying to Afghanistan, and Pentagon officers in counter-insurgency training.  See this site:

In my weekly email to our President (we are on a first-name basis – he often emails me, and addresses those emails to Lynne) I mentioned that if he asks a major how to counter insurgents in Afghanistan the answer will be More troops, but if he asks a teacher, the answer will be More schools.

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6 Responses to “Reading…”

  1. Alissa Says:

    I’m currently reading “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” It was slow starting but I’m really getting into it now…

  2. Rhonda Says:

    My last book about Africa dealt with the boy soldiers and was very sad. I will pick up Three Cups of Tea. (The blog is a great idea.)

  3. leslie sawyer Says:

    Just finsihed reading The Man in the Wooden Hat by, Jane Gardam and a mystry by Andrew Vachss, HAIKU. The prequel to Gardam’s book is Old Filth, which is excellent and won a Whitebread prize and a NY Times notable book.

    Did you see the interview by Bill Moyers and Mortenson? Leslie

  4. Lynn Shore Says:

    Last month the Book Club did The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It is thought provoking and brings the social “ideas” of the South in the 60s to the forefront. Since I was in college in the sixties in the South, I can say that she is pretty accurate in her portrayal of Skeeter.
    Sad to report that the Open Book, the locally owned book store where we have met for over eight years is closing at the end of February. We have found a new place across the street at the University Center.

    • notesfromthewest Says:

      I so miss that book club! Our library doesn’t carry The Help, which my daughter recommended, so I guess I should get it at the used bookstore. Sorry to hear that the Open Book is closing. Guess it will take years for the economy to be booming again.

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