if you give a girl a book …

The holidays are finally over! Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing my family, I look forward to the annual family party, I love giving gifts but I have little energy/patience for anything else. It seems that the moment we go on winter break, there are parties to attend. I get so overwhelmed by the people and the noise, I just want to hide under a table or behind the sofa. By the end of November, the seasonal depression is in full swing and I just want to hole away somewhere with a book and some coffee; instead we go from one social event to the other. Fortunately, my husband is a social butterfly so he can carry a conversation and I get to sit back. I just wish it wasn’t rude to read at a party when you don’t feel like talking to people.

Speaking of reading, one of my favorite presents was from my sister. We are both obsessive/compulsive about keeping our books in near perfect condition. We don’t write in them (unless I’m reading something for class and in that case I will buy a second copy if necessary to keep the first one pristine), we don’t fold the cover back, we try not to crease the spine. If it’s a hardcover, we will lean to one side with the book open at a 90 degree angle. I’m not exaggerating. So these pretty book covers made by Hide-a-Book were the perfect gift. They are so pretty! And practical! They fit most (if not all) mass market and trade paperbacks. And I love the ribbon bookmark. I am always using scraps of paper, post-its, menus, or whatever else I can find to mark my pages. I highly recommend visiting her Etsy site! I’m hoping someday she’ll have book covers for hardcover books too.

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make books, not bombs

I completely neglected this blog the last couple months of the quarter. Then winter break started and I was overwhelmed with Christmas shopping, which I hate to do. I try to do as much of it online as possible but this year, it was unavoidable; we had to make a couple trips to the mall. And both times I left empty handed and angry. People are selfish and mean. It’s supposed to be a giving time of year.

So to escape, I immersed myself in Greg Mortenson’s new book Stones into Schools.

After reading Three Cups of Tea, I passed it on to anyone and everyone that would listen. There’s a reason why it is still on the best seller list. It’s not like anything else out there. It’s about how one man stumbled onto his life’s work and passion after failing to make it to the top of K2. What he does with that mistake is what is so amazing. He makes a promise to build a school in a remote area that the government has forgotten or overlooked. And that promise leads to another and so on.

In this book, Mortenson fills in what has happened since Three Cups of Tea but he also shifts the focus back to the amazing people that the story is really about. While Mortenson is the face and voice of the CAI, there are people that we will probably never see or meet. And they all work ceaselessly to try to spread literacy throughout a land that knows little more than violence, starvation, and fear. In our daily news, we hear about how many have died but we hear little of any good that our troops are doing. President Obama said sometimes a war is necessary and I agree. We had to stop Hitler. Sadam Hussein had to be taken down. But sometimes I wonder if the US government doesn’t know what to do next. But what can you expect from a group of mostly privileged white men sitting on a hill? I think Mortenson is an extraordinary individual but he also experienced first hand what the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan struggled with in their daily lives. He learned how to listen to what they needed. And then he went into action, turning stones into schools. The subtitle says it all: “Promoting peace with books, not bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan”.