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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Three Cups of Tea

by Greg Mortenson, with David Oliver Relin
audiobook: 13.5 hours
narrated by David Oliver Relin


*** About the Book ***

This is the true story of mountain climber whose failed attempt to climb a mountain landed him in a remote Pakistani village where he was warmly welcomed and made to feel at home.  He was so touched by the hospitality of the community that he decided to do something to show his appreciation - he decided to build a school there.  It took a lot of work and a lot of time, but that one decision ended up leading to an entire network of schools being built in remote parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan.


*** Why I Read It ***

This book generated lots of buzz when it was first published.  I really wanted to read it at first, but then I saw some poor reviews and decided against it.  It was my book club's pick for April though, so I gave it a shot.


*** My Thoughts ***

Greg's actions are admirable and inspiring but the book ... is boring.  I couldn't get into the story in the beginning at all.  In fact, I missed large parts of it because my brain simply kept tuning out the audio.  I'd realize what was happening and rewind a bit, but it happened over and over and over again and I finally got sick of rewinding.  I'm usually really good with audio books so this was really odd for me.

The best parts of the book for me were toward the end where I learned about particular students in the school and how their lives had been changed.  If the book had included more of that, I'd likely have enjoyed it far more than I did.

My book club met on Sunday at a tea house to discuss this book.  Having high tea was so much fun!  Most of us didn't particularly enjoy the book and two of our members had some truly exciting news to share, so needless to say we didn't really discuss the book all that much ...


*** Your Thoughts ***

If you've read this book, what did you think of it?  Have you ever read a book that had a great message behind it but that failed in the delivery?

32 comments:

Erika Robuck said...

Our faith book club is going to read this next month. I'll give myself plenty of time.

Goddess said...

OH...I am so sad you didn't like the book! I loved it and found it fascinating! I loved the process of how the schools came to be really interesting and how he built the relationships with all the different people a journey that was a wonderful read.

Helen's Book Blog said...

I had a difficult time with the first 75 pages or so since they seemed to be mostly about mountaineering. Once it got into the school/community building I liked the book much better. I think it's one that you need to read the print version so you can skim aspects that are of less interest to you.

My book group is reading the follow-up book this month, which is supposed to be better

Suey said...

My son had to read it for school over the summer, so I helped him read parts of it (he was 14 and I read aloud to him.) So remember the chapter about when he was captured and in jail for awhile. Scary! Anyway, it didn't grip me enough for me to keep reading on my own. Later, he came and spoke at our local college (my son's school went to see him) but I just watched the broadcast on local TV. He was much more interesting to listen to, than he was to read! :)

Mystica said...

I read this book and really liked it. I live in Sri Lanka where we dont have problems regarding literacy of girls thankfully but problems of poverty do exist so this book appealed to me.

I have done a review of this book on my blog and would really appreciate if you could come visit.

Rebecca Reid said...

YES. I agree 100%. In fact, I hated this book because it was so boring. I also didn't like Greg. He was portrayed as a pretty dumb guy, I thought. Really too bad because I think what he's doing is great, of course...

bermudaonion said...

I haven't read this book because I've read other reviews that said the same thing you did - it's boring. Thanks for your review!

Amy said...

Oh my, I am sorry to hear that you didn't enjoy this book. I loved it when I read it back when it came out. That might be because I have a lot of interest in the topics it explores.

Ms Ulat Buku said...

I read it and I kinda liked it. Maybe it was the audio version that made it boring?

Hannah Stoneham said...

I am so sorry to read that you didn't enjoy the audio version of this book. My book group read it about a month ago and we all enjoyed it a lot on several levels... I reviewed it at my blog as well (here: www.hannahstoneham.blogspot.com/2010/03/business-school-wives-book-club-part.html) I felt that the writing was quite journalistic and not that much to write home about - but I think what really did it for me was the story itself as well as the fact that the book provides interesting information and impressions of Pakistan... I often wonder how many of the schools are still up and running now.

I agree with one of the comments here about the mountaineering section - I found that very hard to follow due to a total lack of technical knowledge!

Fascinating to read that you enjoyed hearing Greg Mortenson speaking and I hope that you enjoy your next audio book a little more...

Thanks for sharing a candid review

Hannah

Cyndel said...

I loved this book! In fact, after I read it, I started looking for other books about the Middle East to learn more about the region. I do have to say that I LOVE reading non-fiction (and have been trained in journalism), but I can see how lovers of fiction would find this book boring. The co-writer is a journalist, so they probably didn't know very much about adding the literary twists that would have made it more entertaining even while keeping it truthful.

ReeNee D said...

Thanks for the review. I also have held back from reading the book, and will likely continue to do so.

Aarti said...

Oh, sad! I wish it wasn't boring. I read another book that is similar to this called Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, and while I didn't find it boring, I did think the author mentioned crying far too much ;-) I think another one (I haven't read) is Mountains Beyond Mountains or something like that.

I have this one, but frankly, not sure I'll get around to reading it!

Amy said...

>Aarti, Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder is a book that I very highly recommend! I love Paul Farmer, his work, his books, and this book is a biography of him. I do hope you give it a try :)

Valerie said...

I read this last year, and I continued through it because I was interested in what was happening. However, I agree that the narrative style was weak.

His sequel has a different co-author, so maybe it's better -- and written in first person. I do plan to read it (when it comes out in paperback, though).

Lisa S. said...

My middle school Social Studies students read the young reader's edition of Three Cups of Tea for summer reading. Having read the original and the student edition, I prefer the student edition! It skips most of the "boring" parts.

atla said...

"Greg's actions are admirable and inspiring but the book ... is boring."

I haven't read it.. mostly because I was afraid of this.

Jennifer@ Mrs. Q: Book Addict said...

I bought this book when the trade paper back first came out. I never got around to reading it. Reading Lolita in Tehran had that effect on me.

softdrink said...

I agree 100%. It's hard to say you dislike a book that has a great message, but you're right. It was horribly boring.

Heather J. said...

Erika – Good idea!

Goddess – I’m glad you enjoyed it … I just couldn’t keep my attention on it.

Helen’s Book Blog – It might have been better if I’d read the print version, but some of the other girls did read it and they didn’t think to highly of it either. But I know that many people did enjoy it!

Suey – There were parts that were good, but on the whole … not.

Mystica – I’ll definitely come on over to check it out!

Rebecca – Exactly. He’s going great and wonderful work, but the book could have been so much better.

Bermudaonion – No problem. ;)

Amy – Maybe if I’d had more of a direct interest in this specific area the book might have appealed to me more.

Ms Ulat Buku – Maybe, but most of the other girls in the club read the print version and they tended to agree with me … 

Hannah – The story really is an amazing one, and I do wonder how things are going with the schools. I’m definitely going to check out your review, thanks! (And just to clarify, I didn’t actually get to hear Greg speak, although he is coming to my area soon.)

Cyndel – I’m actually a huge non-fiction fan, but not really a journalism fan – maybe that was my problem with the book.

ReeNee D – Glad to help! ;)

Aarti – Too funny! I really had high hopes for this one, but alas …

Valerie – I’ll have to check into the follow up book!

Lisa S – Good to know. Maybe I’ll recommend that book rather than this one.

Atla – That’s why I originally took it off my TBR list.

Jennifer – I actually enjoyed Reading Lolita in Tehran but most of the girls in my book club didn’t like it. But you’re right, this book did have a lot of the same feel.

Softdrink – I know, I sort of feel bad about that …

Lynne said...

Phew, seems like everyone else but me liked this book. I thought it was boring too.

Shelley said...

I just finished this one on audio for a book club. I didn't love it, but maybe there was too much hype. I didn't hate it either, though. I felt pretty engaged in the beginning, but it was the end that I had a hard time focusing. Others in the book club liked the main story, but thought it was too wordy and could have been shorter. After I heard the word "vertiginous" about four times, I was feeling the same way!

Janna said...

I read this book a while back, but remember it well. I thought it was simply amazing to see one person make such a huge difference in the world.

That said, I didn't enjoy reading it. It didn't seem very well written, and it dragged at times to the point where I nearly gave up on it.

Thanks for your perspective! I just added myself to your followers!

Heather J. said...

Lynne - Nope, you are NOT the only one. ;)

Shelley - That's exactly how my club felt about it.

Janna - Thanks! I'm glad to have you as a follower!

GMR said...

Ooooh...sorry to hear that the writing wasn't as engaging as hoped! I wasn't really sure what to expect of it as I've heard a lot of general buzz about the title for quite some time as well. Not certain if it will make my TBR rotation, but thanks for the insight!

Heather J. said...

GMR - Another commenter recommended reading the children's book version of this instead - I'd suggest giving that a try if you are really interested in Greg's story.

Bybee said...

I saw him on Oprah...it was amusing to see them struggle to out-pontificate each other.

nat @book, line, and sinker said...

i've seen this book at the bookstores but have been hesitant about picking it up. yours is the third lackluster review i've read about it so maybe i'll take a pass.

the high tea sounds fun, though!

Heather J. said...

Bybee - Oh that must have been hilarious!

nat - The high tea was fantastic; the book, not so much. :)

Lisa said...

I really enjoyed this book--learning about all of the struggles Mortenson went through and learning about the different cultures. I'm looking to the next book Schools from Stones.

Booksnyc said...

I really enjoyed this book - I think the author's powerful personality and his boundless ambition won me over so that when the narrative wandered a bit I was able to forgive!

Heather J. said...

Lisa & Booksync - I'm glad you both enjoyed it! This book seems to split readers - either they really liked it or they really didn't. :)

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