Three Cups of Tea

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Authors: Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Genre: Biography

Page Count: 349

Publication Date: 2006

Summary: Greg Mortenson, an expert mountain climber, travels to Pakistan to attempt to climb the world’s second-tallest mountain.  He gets lost from his team and ends up in the village of Korphe, a village that has never before seen an outsider.  The villagers take Greg in and care for him and in return, Greg promises to build them a school.  This is the story of Greg’s travels throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan, building schools and providing other instruments of humanitarian aid.

Recommended: Yes, I really enjoyed learning about the Pakistani culture though the book reiterates to me that this is a part of the world that I have no intentions of visiting.  One potential drawback to the book is that I found myself continually questioning how Mortenson and his team spend so much money in such a short amount of time, based on the figures and estimates he provides.

If You’re Offended: There are about 5 instances of swear words.

Noteworthy Excerpts: “After brewing green tea in a blackened tin pot, he added salt, baking soda, and goat’s milk, before tenderly shaving a sliver of mar, the aged rancid yak butter the Balti prize above all other delicacies, and stirred it into the brew with a not especially clean forefinger.”    “She wore her long hair elaborately braided in the Tibetan fashion, under an urdwa, a wool cap adorned with beads and shells and antique coins.”

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Curious by Ian Leslie

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Full Title: Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It

Genre: Non-Fiction

Page Count: 216

Publication Date: 2014

Summary: This book explores the nature of curiosity – what causes it and how we benefit from it.  Using psychology, it explores how we learn and why we learn.  It looks at the history of curiosity – how it has been banned and celebrated over the years. It also looks at the roles of schools and education in helping our curiosity to flourish.

Recommended: Yes! If you like to learn as much as you can about the world around you, this is the book for you. It is filled with anecdotes and real-world success stories of people being curious.

If You’re Offended: No problems here.

Noteworthy Excerpts: “When people are interested in what they’re reading, they pay closer attention, process the information more efficiently, make more connections between new and existing knowledge, and attend to deeper questions raised by the text rather than merely noting its surface features.”     “Knowledge, even shallow knowledge – knowing a little about a lot – widens your cognitive bandwidth. It means you get more out of a trip to the theater or a museum or from a novel, a poem, or a history book.”

Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol

Genre: Non-Fiction

Page Count: 318

Publication Date: 1991

Summary: Schools are funded through property taxes and state and federal allocations.  If the school is in a district where property values are low, the property taxes sometimes do not bring in enough income to fully fund the school.  The author visits several underfunded schools in poor districts across the United States and questions how school funding can become more equitable and just.

Recommended: Yes, particularly if you work in the field of education. Some of the school conditions are downright deplorable.

If You’re Offended: No problems here.

Noteworthy Excerpts: “There are no science labs, no art or music teachers. There is no playground. There are no swings. There is no jungle gym. Soap, paper towels and toilet paper are in short supply. There are two working bathrooms for some 700 children.”     “A history teacher at the Martin Luther King School has 110 students in four classes – but only 26 books. Some of the books are missing the first hundred pages.”