Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I don't read a lot of fiction books. Not that I don't enjoy fiction, but I have a hard time finding quality writing that isn't down-in-the-dumps depressing. Oprah can pick great writers, but her book club books are time after time downers. I get so caught up in the book that I end up feeling depressed. Not my idea of a great read.
So I read a lot of non-fiction. Select biographies, obviously tons of craft books, and my favorite genre of all--travel writing. Not actual travel books, but any book about the culture of a place I've never been. Or a few spectacular places I have been. I love Frances Mayes' books--Under the Tuscan Sun, Bella Tuscany, and mostly, A Year in the World. Cliche as it is, she's a fantastic writer of food, sun, and people.
My sister introduced me to Three Cups of Tea. It's a meaningful, humbling, beautiful book. Greg Mortensen was a poor mountain climber with several of the world's highest summits under his belt when he promised to build a school in the shadow of the most beautiful and dangerous mountains in the world in rural Pakistan. He slept in his car for months while he worked graveyard shifts as an ER nurse to raise a mere $12,000 to build this school. He wasn't rich to begin with. He dedicated his life and gave up his comfortable bed to help people in one of the world's most remote regions.
Now the Central Asia Institute is building schools for girls and therefore educating an entire generation of people. If you've seen Charlie Wilson's War, you'll see why this is important. Obviously I don't have the space here to detail the history of the region's conflicts, and I'm no where near being an expert.
But you should read this book. It really puts your burning desire for a new handbag in perspective.