Our local book club pick for September is Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone. While I haven’t read it yet, I am really looking forward to it. It’s been a while since we’ve delved into nonfiction – April to be exact, when we read Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Relin. I’ve decided to take this nonfiction month (which is, coincidentally, the month of elections in Afghanistan) as an opportunity for me to post a long-delayed rant on this over-rated book.
I couldn’t stand Three Cups of Tea, and apparently, I’m the only person in the blogosphere who feels this way.
Now, let’s not get the wrong idea. I think the story is terrific; it’s everything that a good story is supposed to be: interesting, insightful, and inspiring. I laughed. I cried. I learned a lot more about the plight of children living on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan than I had ever hoped.
That is, when I could read it without yawning.
For such a wonderful narrative, Relin does a great job of boring his readers to death. Three Cups of Tea has so much potential, yet the prose is so mundane that I found myself rereading the same page over and over without realizing it, wondering why my mind kept trailing in multiple directions, none of which had anything to do with building schools in Central Asia.
The book feels like it is 2000 pages when it is barely over 200, and even that is too long. Everything that Relin says about Mortenson’s journeys can be condensed into a lovely 10-page essay in The New Yorker.
Did anyone else find themselves snoring in the middle of this book? Or, were you riveted the entire way through? I’d love to hear your thoughts on Three Cups of Tea.