Reading FOR and WITH a Purpose


Recap of our April meeting:
Three Cups of Tea

Where to even begin?

How do I put an experience into words? How do I give it the proper credits their due.

If you would have asked me 5 or 10 years ago I never ever would have guessed I would start a book club. I never could have imagined how much I would enjoy reading good books and discussing them with friends… over TEA!

I would have called you crazy.

Although my cool Aunt Lois always drank tea… I didn’t think that the transparent-watery drink was for me. (Now I’ve learned the joy of a splash of raw milk and honey! My tea is not transparent! And tea is not like water.)

Saturday was a perfect clash of so many favorites coming together!


Our discussion of Three Cups of Tea lasted longer than normal but we didn’t notice. Each with our own pot of tea, we were set to enjoy the cloudy day sitting in the cafe. (Mine was a marvelous pot of carmel almond black tea- sweetened and with milk, of course!)

Three Cups of Tea

An amazing feat done by the inspiration of one man.

A wrong turn. A new road for his life.

New schools where there were none.

Hope for the coming generations.

A creative solution for a major issue.

Teaching peace through simple education.


Our discussion questions were a little like essay questions, BUT they provided excellent launching points for our discussion.

One question spurred on part of our conversation…

Greg believes education is the key solution to some very complicated problems. What other problems do you think are in need of some creative solutions?

We agreed most problems, especially the big and complicated ones, should be solved creatively, not by just throwing money at them. The small, tedious steps Greg needed to take to build each school… like how he had to build a bridge to even get to the building site of his first school. Those small, very necessary, steps will probably help really solve problems not just patch them.

We also discussed the following two big problems and the inspired people coming up with creative solutions.

Education in America. If you’re not familiar with Ted Talks you should surf on over there and take a gander. One of many with inspired ideas, Salman Khan is using video to “reinvent education.” You may think that sounds like the opposite direction we need to go. Kids need a human to teach them, talk to them, answer specific questions, right? Well, before you make any judgments see if these short 20 minutes don’t change your mind.

Food. Specifically processed food… I believe another complicated problem in America. We talked about Jamie Oliver and his show Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. His current season is focused on promoting healthy eating habits in public schools. Referring to last month’s book, I think food in America is near a tipping point. (Do you agree??) Oliver is teaching about REAL food… you know, the kind that grows in the ground and on trees… people are re-learning how to cook and bake. With actual food.

I’ll stop there before I get higher on my food soap box 🙂 and get back to our book.

We enjoyed reading a different perspective from the middle east. He shared about where he was on 9/11. And what that meant for an American in the Middle East at that time. We enjoyed the details. I really got a good mental picture of the many locations he traveled and the sparse life he lived while trying to collect enough money for schools and airfare. Personally, I would have loved to hear more from his wife’s point of view… but maybe that will be a book in itself some day.

And we discussed much more.

I know many were busy this month, but I wish you could have made it! I encourage you to come next month, May 12th.

Rachel won the door prize… a copy of next month’s secret reveal book…

Peter Pan by J. M Barrie

I’m sure you’re familiar with the Disney version of this classic, but have you ever read the original? (Be sure you’re copy isn’t an abridged version… you’ll be missing out! It’s a quick read, you don’t need to get the short version anyway!)

A little fairy dust never hurt anyone. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book. And I know this children’s book will prove good conversation for our adult book club.

See you in a few weeks!

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Three Cups of Tea Discussion "Tea"sers

I know, I know. That title was a terrible pun, but we seem to have a tea theme this month, so I couldn’t resist. We hope you can join us this Saturday at Tea’s Me CafĂ© to discuss Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. 


Here are some questions to get you thinking or to help refresh your memory before we meet. These are taken from the publishers’ website for book clubs:

  1. Relin gives a “warts and all” portrait of Mortenson, showing him as a hero but also as a flawed human being with some exasperating traits. Talk about how Relin chose to write about Mortenson’s character—his choice of details, his perspective, the way he constructs scenes. Is Mortenson someone you’d like to get to know, work with, or have as a neighbor or friend?
  2. At the heart of the book is a powerful but simple political message: we each as individuals have the power to change the world, one cup of tea at a time. Yet the book powerfully dramatizes the obstacles in the way of this philosophy: bloody wars waged by huge armies, prejudice, religious extremism, cultural barriers. What do you think of the “one cup of tea at a time” philosophy? Do you think Mortenson’s vision can work for lasting and meaningful change?
  3. Mortenson’s transition from climbing bum to humanitarian hero seems very abrupt. However, looking back, it’s clear that his sense of mission is rooted in his childhood, the values of his parents, and his relationship with his sister Christa. Discuss the various facets of Mortenson’s character—the freewheeling mountain climber, the ER nurse, the devoted son and brother, and the leader of a humanitarian cause. Do you view him as continuing the work his father began?
  4. The authors write that “the Balti held the key to a kind of uncomplicated happiness that was disappearing in the developing world.” This peaceful simplicity of life seems to be part of what attracts Mortenson to the villagers. Discuss the pros and cons of bringing “civilization” to the mountain community.
  5. Did the book change your views toward Islam or Muslims? Consider the cleric Syed Abbas, and also the cleric who called a fatwa on Mortenson. Syed Abbas implores Americans to “look into our hearts and see that the great majority of us are not terrorists, but good and simple people.” Discuss this statement. Has the book inspired you to learn more about the region?
  6. Have you ever known anyone like Mortenson? Have you ever had the experience of making a difference yourself through acts of generosity, aid, or leadership?
And because those felt a little like what you’d have on an essay test at school (good questions, but still…) here are a few of my own:
  1. Greg found himself in some pretty dangerous situations in the book. Did any of them make you nervous when reading his story?
  2. What stood out to you the most about this book?
  3. Did anything about this book change your views on global politics? Did you learn anything you didn’t know before?
  4. Greg believes education is the key solution to some very complicated problems. What other problems do you think are in need of some creative solutions?
I can’t wait for Saturday! I thoroughly enjoyed last year’s outing. I’m already trying to decide what kind of tea I’ll get this time. Hope to see you all on Saturday at Tea’s Me at 11 a.m.! Until then, Happy Reading!

Mountain Climber, Peace Maker, Story Teller

I just love people who solve problems creatively.

Greg Mortenson is one of these people.

I love reading about ideas that creatively solve problems.

Three Cups of Tea, is about how Greg Mortenson is creatively solving some BIG problems.

I love this quote about him, “Mortenson believes that education and literacy for girls globally is the most important investment all countries can make to create stability, bring socio-economic reform, decrease infant mortality and population explosion, as well as improve health, hygiene, and sanitation standards globally.” (from wikipedia)

Those problems are big, right? I’d say, though, that Greg’s efforts also work towards the often scoffed at ideal of world peace. But any effort that brings discussion, understanding and conversation over violence is a winner in my book. Ergo, this book=winner. 🙂

Read it: Be challenged. Be inspired.

(And for those of you who are less than excited about reading biographical books: this one has mystery, intrigue, suspense, and drama- all in a far away land!)

All about Tea

(photo credit)

Our book for April is Three Cups of Tea.

Our discussion will be on location for lunch at Tea’s Me.

Saturday April 16, 2011
*on location*
@11:00am
Three Cups of Tea
by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

I look forward to going to Tea’s Me every year! Yummy food, an amazing tea experience and all while discussing a book! Hope you are enjoying the book and can fit this little lunch date into your busy Spring schedule! We are meeting on Saturday this month so be sure to change the date on your calendars.
May’s book is still a secret! Come to the April meeting at Tea’s Me and someone will a copy of May’s book!
See you in a few weeks!
Happy Reading
Sarah