Three Cups of Tea: Young Reader’s Edition (Paperback) by Greg Mortenson: A Book Review

threecupschildI decided to put it in my bag unmolested for a few days before I mustered up enough desire to finish it. As a matter of fact, its edition is intended for young readers. However, I swerved off after having watched the report of 60 Minutes by CBS News about the author’s credibility on Youtube in 2011. According to the news, the book contained fabrications and he mismanaged Central Asia Institute, the charity he co-founded. In an interview with author John Krauker, he said that it is a beautiful story, and it’s a lie. He also added that a companion on the 1993 attempt to climb K2 refuted Mortenson’s account that people in the remote Pakistani village of Korphe nursed him back to health. The reports also accused Mortenson of using the charity to enrich himself and promote his books without sharing the royalties or speaking fees.( For more information, see the news here http://www.cbsnews.com/news/three-cups-of-tea-author-greg-mortenson-to-retire-from-charity/)

In the end, while trying to finish it and despite the author’s credibility in question, I thought that, somehow, the book has a message each and every one of us should be aware of: All children elsewhere have the right to acquire decent education.

I had seen its original book several times in a second-hand book store. However, I just ignored it because I was not interested in such genre yet at that time. Besides, as I have always crowed to the world, I don’t want to buy a tattered book any more. It just happened that I stumbled on its new and childish edition.

As I started reading it, I began to mutter under my breath regretting why I did not dare reading it before since there were paperbacks aplenty. I was touched to read Greg Monterson’s humble life story , on how he began to realize that there was something he could do more than climbing the second highest mountain in the world, K2. Back in America, he worked his butt off to ante up enough fund to make his promise come true. Fortunately, he made it. Despite all the trepidation, he never gave up on his calling.

Since the book is for young readers, obviously, it is light, not that much heavily detailed as the original although I have this feeling that I want to know the story more- in detail. I guess the author may have selected only some important parts paralleling with a young reader’s comprehension level.

After reading it, I forgot the controversy about Greg. I don’t mind it anymore except the messages he wants to tell the world: Education is a human right. Besides, I will still give his two books a try such as his original Three Cups Of Tea: One Man’s Mission To Promote Peace One School At A Time and Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

               

On the other hand, it occurred to me that corruption is indeed a big temptation to a person who has been deprived of poverty unless that person grows in a home where love is taught as the most powerful element in the world.

In January of this year, Greg Mortenson retired from Central Asia Institute, the charity he managed for nine years. He is now 58 years old . He can now spend more quality time with his family, but for sure he cannot escape the specter of the weathering controversy he has been facing .

Meanwhile, here are the catchphrases I want to dwell in my mind when Haji Ali spoke to Monterson:

“If you want to thrive in Baltistan, you must respect our ways. The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for our family, we are prepared to do anything, even die. Doctor Greg, you must take time to share three cups of tea. We may be uneducated but we are not stupid. We have lived and survived here for a long time.’ That day, Haji Ali taught me the most important lesson I’ve ever learned in my life. We Americans think you have to accomplish everything quickly…Haji Ali taught me to share three cups of tea, to slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects. He taught me that I had more to learn from the people I work with than I could ever hope to teach them.”

Rating: 3/ 5 stars (  I liked it.)

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JANUARY BOOKS 2016

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Today, my  fellow Filipino-Chinese countrymen and the  Korean community living in the Philippines have been painting the town red in observance of the New Year according to the lunar calendar. In fact, our President declared Monday, February 08 as a non-working holiday -a long weekend for those who had  no office work this last  weekend , and especially for those voracious readers- to give respect to their most celebrated tradition. Unfortunately, our academy was open ,  par for the course conforming to Korean’s“ workaholic” culture-a custom I have almost adapted to. If I we didn’t have classes, I would definitely   have holed up in my library house the whole day. 😛 I  just want to keep up with the books I have laid on my table for a long time, the wrapped-up books  I scavenged on last year.

With no  further ado, here are the books I  ENJOYED in January because I gave most of them  high ratings:

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Book: The Professor’s Daughter

Genre: Comic

Author:Joann Sfar

Rating: 3/ 5 stars

Thoughts: I liked its concept of the story- a dashing  mummy  Imhotep IV  fell in love with an Egyptologist’s beautiful daughter. Besides, its ending is unexpected without clinging to the reality.

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Book: Salu-Salo Para Kay Kuya

Genre: Children’s Book

Author: Ergoe Tinio

Rating: 3/ 5 stars

Thoughts: A very touching story  that everyone who has the same experience can relate to.

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Book: Tolits

Genre: Children’s Book

Author: Genaro Gojo Cruz

Rating: 3/ 5 stars

Thoughts:  Another Gojo Cruz’s masterpiece which has proved his skills in being a children raconteur.

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Book: Man in the Dark

Genre:  Dystopian Novel

Author : Paul Auster

Rating: 4/ 5 stars

Thoughts: Auster’s book that endeared me to him more. I want to read his other works more.

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Book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Author: Douglas Adams

  Rating: 4/ 5 stars

Thoughts: I belong to the readers who claim his  being a gifted writer. I will re-read it in  paperback.

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Book: Bread Givers

Author: Anzia Yezierska

Rating: 4/ 5 stars

Thoughts: A toes-curling but important book  we should read to understand immigrant life as well as ridiculous customs we should no longer observe in our modern daily life.

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Book: Crossing the Water: Eighteen Months on an Island Working with Troubled Boys- A  Teacher’s Memoir

Genre: Memoir

Author: Daniel Robb

Rating: 4/ 5 stars

Thought: A worth reading for educators and an eye-opener for narrow-minded society.

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Book: The Mercury Reader

Author: Pearson

Rating: 5/ 5 stars

 Thoughts:  A collection of gifted writers’  essays which  can move the world. Follow up with my review of it next week.

In this month, I will try to finish two voluminous novels ( when my tight schedule  permits)  that have still been collecting dust bunnies on my currently-reading shelf: Moby Dick ,The Last of the Mohican ,and S. Vagus’  Kasma Forma.  Probably, I will read at least one of them depending on my   reading condition. But I am determined to read S. Vagus’s ( Grammarian, don’t be confused about the possessive form. I just prefer William Strunk Jr.’ s The Elements of Style.) because I have been enjoying  it so far, especially it is somehow light,  and interestingly, has something to do with philosophy.  In addition,  there are some books in my huge tinned  “ baul” I found more  tempting to read.  Gee, little did I realize that I have been hoarding  a great deal of   books . Most of them   still look new since I no longer desire to read an old, tattered one. So, before they become  as crispy as dried leaves , I have to  keep up with them before the year ends.  Batman ( God ) willing!

Kung Hei Fat Choi, buddies! 🙂

 

Tolits by Genaro R. Gojo Cruz : A Book Review

tolitsI am a poor book detective, but I have a mission: to read all Genaro Gojo Cruz’s children’s books. I am afflicted by his “childhood-drama effect” after reading his YA, Connect the Dots o Kung Paano Ko Kinulayan ang Aking Buhay. However, I  do not buy his children’s books; I just have my own copy of his YA. As you know, I scrimp on books I want to treasure for the posterity since I dream of building my very own private library as big as half of my house. Besides, I regret spending 75 pesos because I can spend this amount on two or three books at Book Sale, the famous second-hand book store in the Philippines. I will just  get a book if I can no longer resist myself from it, a best-seller  hyped up by my friends on Goodreads.

Although Gojo Cruz is now one of my favorite children’s books writers, I still put him into a pigeonhole, on the list of the books I want to hoard and display in my library someday. So, what I am trying to rationalize  is that I drop into National Book Store branches   to check upon   some of his works and read them privately. (One time, I was even caught by a clerk burying myself in a book I held for  more than 30 minutes, so I was blocked by the guard at the exit area  to check my bag for SOP. Come on, guard, I was not born yesterday. SOP stands  for Security Operation Procedure. What an acronym! ) Luckily,  I have read seven of them  at different NBS branches such as:

  1. Ang Batang May Maraming Maraming Bahay
  2. Mahabang-Mahabang-Mahaba
  3. Ang Aking Photo Album
  4. Noong Nakaraang Taon
  5. Bunsoy
  6. Saling Pusa
  7. Anluwagi

Why do I appear so addicted to  reading Genaro Gojo Cruz’s  children’s  books?  You can understand me if you start reading his  first YA I mentioned above.  I noticed that   same reaction from another fan on Goodreads. In his YA, Genaro told  a story about  a boy, himself , who cried  deep inside for the poverty and being “incomplete”  in his life. So, through reading his children’s books, you can penetrate the depth of the story as if they have been drawn from deep experiences. You may not burst into tears , but you can feel  the burning  sensation  smarting in the deepest part of your heart that  you cannot even  pour it out. It just moves there around  without cease until they appease for goods.

The   only problem is his books are always out of stock. They may be best-sellers. If so, I am happy for Mr. Gojo Cruz.  His books are indeed worth reading. Thus, I have a hard time finding his other books. I drop into from one book store to another since there are three malls adjacent to another near  our place. Gee, you may now find  me idiosyncratic. Yes, I am a walking dead -bookworm zombie moving from one mall to another clockwise. I have no compunction for this. 🙂

After a fairly long time, tadaaa!!! I  have found one of his books, TOLITS. I found it at another NBS branch nearer our place where I had never thought of  dropping by , for  I do not like its ambiance.

Little did I  know that TOLITS is a match stick. I thought that it was a character of a young boy because we moniker   someone like that here in the Philippines. Besides, I have understood that  a young boy is also called TOLITS because he is scrawny. So, the story turns out to be about a scrawny   young boy match stick who is curious about why his parents and other relatives try to hide him underneath them once the window is opened by   big fingers.

The story is a little bit disturbing. Perhaps, I detached myself from the reality, or I am   more used to reading Gojo Cruz’s   books which reflect in the real mirror of life and  permeate  through my heart.  Besides, I have still been confounded   at how I can relate his story to other situation and even squeeze its  moral lesson out of me. Nevertheless, Gojo Cruz has proved his skills in being a   children’s raconteur  in this story once again. A match, full of sticks,  is enough to materialize his   imagination. Besides, I liked the fact that reading it did not give me any clues of what the story is all about.   As usual, his common trademark   at the end of the story is a tear-jerker although it is not that as emotionally penetrating as his Ang Batang May Maraming Maraming Bahay.  .

It is now my 8th Genaro Gojo Cruz’s children’s books. I am now  more  driven to hunt his other books. I am going to gallivant like  a madman  at another  National Book Store outlets if the need arises. So, my next missions are:

  1. Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas
  2. Ang Malaking Kahon ng Sorpresa
  3. Pitong Angel
  4. Hello, Tatay!
  5. Ang Aking Pamilya
  6. Ang Bahaghari
  7. Maghapon Namin ni Nanay
  8. Malaking-Malaking Bahay
  9. Si Nanay Mining at ang Tatlong Kuting
  10. Ang Lumang Aparador ni Lola
  11. Ang Asul na Kariton
  12. Ang Kamisetang Dilaw

 And his  newest  ones: Pwede Na Ba Akong Mag-alaga ng Kuting?  which was published last year and Gaano Ba Kalayo ang Paaralan? which he launched last Saturday at SM North EDSA. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend  his launching and book signing  because it was too late when I found it out on his Facebook status. Besides, my copy of his YA was not with me.

I admit that after reading TOLITS, I have now this desire to buy all Gojo Cruz’s books I have read already. I should not just  read them. I want to share them with my younger sister and young nephews and nieces and keep them for the posterity. (sighs) I wish I did not have to   scrimp and save for  books that make my mouth water whenever I see and touch them at NBS.

Book Title: TOLITS:  

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it. )