Thursday, November 1, 2007

Three Cups of Tea selected for Rochester Reads (11-01-07)

Rochester Post-Bulletin (Rochester MN)
Three Cups of Tea selected for Rochester Reads
Thursday, November 1, 2007
By Christina Killion-Valdez

More than any other year of Rochester Reads, this has been the year that people want to know which book is in the lead.

Since the community began voting in June on which book Rochester will read, Katherine Stecher, chairwoman of Rochester Reads, has been careful not to give it away.

"People are coming up to me and asking who's winning?" she said.

Yet even before Mayor Ardell Brede announced the winner this morning in the city hall rotunda, one book had a clear lead, she said.

"Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations -- One School at a Time," a New York Times bestseller, has been a popular choice at the library all year. Book clubs have the book reserved through June, and the waiting list for single copies has been up to 30 people deep, Stecher said.

"I think people will be really pleased that this book won," Stecher said.

The book tells the harrowing journey of Greg Mortenson, a Montana resident, who helped build 58 schools in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The other books considered were: "Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science" by Atul Gawande, "Sweet Land: New and Selected Stories" by Will Weaver and "Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague" by Geraldine Brooks.

The books were selected for a variety of reasons, including good writing, a good story and being ripe for discussion, she said.

"Three Cups of Tea" however got twice as many votes as the other books and has sparked discussions across the country, Stecher said.

The book "does not make people into terriorists," she said. "It's trying to explain their culture in a sensitive way."

Discussions based on the book and cultural programs will be a big part of Rochester Reads events in February. Mortenson will speak to classes and at a public forum Feb. 11.

The book selected for junior readers looks at the same region of the world. "The Breadwinner" is about a girl living in Afghanistan during the reign of the Taliban. Author Deborah Ellis is expected to visit Rochester as part of Rochester Reads.

(c) 2007 Rochester Post-Bulletin. All Rights Reserved. Used With Permission.