Reading recommendations. Books, articles, essays, blogs, etc. Updated weekly.

Book: Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

 3ctcoversmall3My vanity encourages me not to like books that spend inordinate amounts of time on the bestseller list, and so I dutifully sought out weaknesses in Greg Mortenson’s and David Oliver Relin’s Three Cups of Tea. I found it a touch cumbersome, but in the end, I have to admit that I liked it. It pushes education (one of my favorite agendas), explains the conflict in Pakistan and Afgahnistan (am I the only one who doesn’t understand it?), has a love-story (check), and speaks to the power of the individual (amen).

 I haven’t liked a bestseller this much since Eat, Pray, Love.

 “He picked up his dog-eared, grease-spotted Koran and held it before the flames. Do you see how beautiful this Koran is? . . . I can’t read it . . . I can’t read anything. This is the greatest sadness in my life. I’ll do anything so the children of my village never have to know this feeling.” 

 Radio: This American Life, Episode #339

iraIf you’re not already a lover of This American Life, it’s time. One of my all-time favorites is the Break-Up episode (#339), wherein Starlee Kine attempts to get over a break-up by writing a break-up song, Phil Collins style. (Lisa, no offense, but I thought of you.)

 On the relationship:“It was hands down corniest relationship I’d ever been in. And by corniest, I mean greatest.”


On the break-up: “I searched deep inside myself for the right words to say. And out of my mouth popped this, ‘How can you just let me walk away? I’m the only one who really knew you at all.’ And I meant it.”


On recovering: I was no longer listening to [Phil Collins] songs for pleasure. But for pain. They were break-up songs, and hearing them was only thing that made me feel better. And by better, I mean worse.”


Book: One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez


It’s been on my you really should read that list for years. I finally did it. I think the word for it—if there is such thing—is dizzying. I could hardly keep pace. It’s a book, as Ricardo Gullon points out, that eliminates any difference between the extraordinary and the commonplace.


I wouldn’t call it uplifting, but still, if you haven’t already, I think you should. One, to say you have and two, for lines like this:


“Wherever they might be they always remember that the past was a lie, that memory has no return, that every spring gone by could never be recovered, and that the wildest and most tenacious love was an ephemeral truth in the end.”


Essay: “Late Bloomers,”  by Malcolm Gladwell


{image The New Yorker}

{image The New Yorker}


The other day as my husband was leaving for work he handed me a copy of The New Yorker, telling me to read Malcolm Gladwell’s piece, “Late Bloomers.” I loved it. It challenges the assumption that “Genius . . . is inextricably tied up with precocity,” and compares the prodigious Piccaso to the studied Cezanne. “Let’s just be thankful that Cezanne didn’t have a guidance counselor in high school who looked at his primitive sketches and told him to try accounting,” he says. Right.


It had me convinced I just hadn’t tapped my own genius (right?). And then there’s this love story in the article that will make you want to tell your husband to quit his job and start composing music. A love story that will make you wonder if your husband had an ulterior motive for slipping you the magazine. . .


 Blog: “Serendipity,” by Sharron Scarlett



The mom blog is alive and well, sometimes nauseatingly so. But Sharry’s blog Serendipity isn’t all about the cute things her toddlers do. She’s all about the cute things her teenagers do. A women who truly revels in family (and calls her son’s cell phone from the warmth of her bed to wake him up for school),  I promise she’ll make you laugh.