Monday, July 19, 2010

Totally Booked: Threes and Fours

I've been racking up some frequent flier miles and burning through my reading list this month. Wahoo! Here are a few more:

Wahine Take on:
The Rule of Four, by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason

Straight from the fan club of Dan Brown, we've got another cult meets academia suspense book. I know it was a Da Vinci Code knock off but I couldn't resist a thriller where historical research plays as much a role in the plot as the characters.  "The delicious futility of impossible tasks is the catnip of overachievers," the author quips. How much fun is that!

Rule of Four follows four Princeton undergrads wrapping up their college career as they try to crack a 500 year old puzzle: The Hypnerotomachia, a book published during the Renaissance (in real life), that holds an ancient secret. All this Sherlock Holmes-ian drama sparked by an on-campus murder.

I wouldn't mark it as the next classic but it's deliciously rich with riddles and twists making it a fun summer read, especially for the nerd crew.

Wahine Take on:
Three Cups Of Tea
And of course it couldn't be helped...a nonfiction had to be thrown into the mix. This book came highly recommended to me by at least three different people, ahem, Adam, so I borrowed (stole) it from my sister.

You don't have to be an international affairs guru to appreciate this story (but it certainly tickles those of us who do). Greg Mortenson may have failed at climbing K2 (the second tallest mountain in the world) but it wouldn't shock me if he took home a Nobel Peace Prize in the next decade. An admirer of his organization likened his efforts to the firefighters of 9/11. He says, "This guy Greg quietly, doggedly heading back into a war zone to do battle with the real causes of terror is every bit as heroic as those firemen running up the stairs of the burning towers while everyone else was frantically trying to get out."

After nearly killing himself on his mission to climb to the summit, he was stumbled into a rural village in Pakistan ten years ago. The locals adopted the infidel, nursing him back to health. To repay them, he promised to build them the school they so desperately needed. Eighty schools, two countries, a war, and a decade later, Mortenson is still on his mission to bring education to the farthest, most war torn parts of the globe. But it all comes down to building relationships long before breaking ground, relationships based on trust, established over many cups of tea.

The lessons he shares, I believe, hold the key to solving the War on Terror. We have the most sophisticated tools, the strongest and brightest (I know, my brother is one of them) fighting tirelessly. But he says, "I've learned that terror doesn't happen because some group of people somewhere like Pakistan or Afghanistan simply decide to hate us. It happens because children aren't being offered a bright enough future that they have a reason to live." We are going to have to help make that future - and it's going to have to be in the form of education.

His story is inspiring, a few times I caught myself figuring out how I swing a trip out to help him - only to remind myself I'd be more of a liability than an asset. (SHOCKER). If don't have this book in your it! 7% of the proceeds go to his effort. And if you're in the DC area - he will be visiting promoting the sequel in September!

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