Category Archives: Personal

Three Cups of Tea – Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

I read this upon the suggestion of my friend Michelle. I had it on my list for awhile, but her glowing review sent me straight to the library.


This was a book that I just couldn’t put down. It was seemingly written more by Relin than by Mortenson, and I had my nitpicks, but the overall message and story was so inspiring and so moving and hopeful, that they were easily overlooked. (Okay, not entirely overlooked. One of my major nitpicks is the almost deification of Mortenson, and it’s written in theory, by him – but it seems as if it was a posthumous biography. I was almost shocked that he is still [fortunately] alive.)

This is essentially the true story of one man’s struggle and determination to build schools for the children of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mortenson himself is amazing, but the story of these people and the conditions and the obstacles is the true star, in my mind.

The book also served to confirm and validate my long-held belief that a lot of the world’s problems and poverty could be alleviated or eradicated by focusing on the education and empowerment of women and children. If you give a woman the chance to free herself from poverty, and an education, they can protect themselves from tyranny. They can become self-supporting and in turn, can show her children that there is another way. If you are raised in poverty and have the bleakest of futures, it’s hard to imagine a better world, and it’s easy to turn to hate.  If you have a future, and a chance, and access to at the very least, clean water, food and medical care, then maybe we can turn future potential terrorists who had to unite against something to people who can create their own paths and futures.

Give a woman a chance to participate in her government and economy, or be able to read and write and you will give her options. My guess is that the options will be to take care of her children, and most likely have less children that she can’t afford, and stay in marriages where she may be abused. We need to stop treating women like second class citizens, and invest more time, money and effort into those that will be raising the next generation.

The “Three Cups of Tea” refers to the idea that the idea that “he first cup of tea, you’re a stranger; the second cup, a friend; and the third cup, you’re family.” It was a nice reminder that relationships have to be built, and once they are, when they are maintained, there is nothing stronger.

The book was so inspiring and hopeful, that as I was reading it, I kept hoping that we had a different outcome. For example, he is in the Middle East when the attacks on 9/11 happen, and reading about the CAI trying to get tribal leaders together and rally against Osama and for educating women, I actually had a glimmer of hope that it was all going to be okay, and we wouldn’t be bombing innocents. Of course, this didn’t happen. But if the CAI and other organizations succeed in educating women and children, I want to believe that this won’t happen again.

You can read more about the book and the story on their website, and I highly recommend that you do. I as so moved, that I made a contribution to the  Central Asia Institute’s charity at My guess is that after reading this book, you will want to do so as well.



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I think WordPress just insulted me has offered a helpful “suggestion” for my website. Instead of Pale Nerd, they suggested I become “Ashen Loser.”

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Happy New Year

It’s not that I have abandoned the blog. I haven’t. It’s that I truly haven’t read anything. I primarily read on the subway, and between vacation and being sick, I either haven’t been on the subway, or have fallen fast asleep on my commute. I am currently starting “Getting Things Done” and am halfway through about 2 or 3 other books. This is unusual for me – I usually pick one and stick with it, but it’s just been that kind of month. For the sake of a post and blog integrity, I have a book-related story for my loyal readers!

When asked for ideas for a Chanuka present, my sister decided she wanted a bunch of books that I recommend. She gave me an idea of what she liked and gave me free reign. The following is the bunch that I got her. These are by no means my favorite, and very loosely based on what she said she liked. It’s pretty much books I either read recently and enjoyed, or books that have always made me laugh. And Shusterman because I became obsessed.

  • The Idiot Girls’ Action Adventure Club – Laurie Notaro
  • The Widow of the South – Robert Hicks
  • Everlost – Neal Shusterman
  • Unwind – Neal Shusterman
  • Downsiders – Neal Shusterman
  • The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory
  • The Spellman Files – Lisa Lutz
  • The Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • The Glass Castle – Jeanette Walls

Interestingly, I think only the Shusterman books have been blogged about here. The others I really, really dig. Buying books for another person is a little weird. It feels revealing. I think its a little like the lost art of making a mix tape.

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My name is Erica. I read a lot. I read really, really quickly. I don’t know how, I just do. Yes, I comprehend everything. No, you can’t time me and I don’t know how to teach you.

I have been known to read cereal boxes, and I don’t have a favorite book. I will read everything from awful vampire teenage chick lit to books on starting your own coffee shop. I don’t love sci-fi.

I want to see how many books I ACTUALLY read. I may start a separate project where I just list other books I have read, but that’s more of a vanity thing. Actually, this whole blog is a vanity thing, but I think Frank (my sweet boyfriend) really wants to see what would happen if I started a blog.

So, I will post when I read something new. Maybe comment? You should comment too! I have a fragile ego and need to know people read what I write.

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