Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Notes from the brink

Of civilization that is. We've been on vacation in Yellowstone and Idaho and have been off the grid for awhile. It's been good to change up the routine and embrace so many new experiences. It's given me a lot of blog fodder. I'm excited to write it all up when I get home. Anyway, while we've been out I've been doing some reading. (A good book makes everything more enjoyable!) So here's the latest update on my book a week challenge.

#26 Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. This book was given to me by a friend (Hi Sarah!) who usually hands me really worthwhile non-fiction. This book was no exception. The story chronicles "one man's mission to promote peace [in Pakistan and Afghanistan]. . .one school at a time." Driven by the death of his beloved sister and a failed attempt to scale K2, Greg Mortenson was lost in mid-winter in the Pakistan mountains. Rescued by a generous tribe of Balti he found direction and hope in the eyes of young Pakistani children who held classes without teachers and tried to teach themselves to read while drawing in the dust. The ups and downs of his journey are interesting but it was his personal philosophy about the Middle East and the roots of conflict that were most interesting to me. I highly recommend this book. Besides being a good read it was a great introduction to the history of this important region and a little softer than some of the other popular books about the Middle East (like The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns).

#27 The Little Prince by Antoin de Saint Exupery. I read this one while doing laundry at our motel in West Yellowstone. This is a classic and I thought it was quite nice. I'm glad I read it. It was a nice reminder to treasure my children's point of view and to see things through their eyes--which made some of the sights in Yellowstone more meaningful.

#28 The Bat-Poet by Randall Jarrell. I first discovered Terry Tempest Williams as a teenager when the family vacationed in Moab. Talk about eye-opening. I was hoping to stumble onto something similar while in Yellowstone, but besides a copy of an old domestic handbook for women which I couldn't bring myself to buy, nothing really fit the bill. Then I came across The Bat-Poet. While it definitely isn't Terry Tempest Williams, it was the right read for the trip. This little story of a bat who wants to sing like a mockingbird but can't and turns to poetry instead is short and sweet and thought-provoking. I can't wait to share it with my kids. If you have elementary aged readers in your home, or if you like poetry, this book is definitely for you.

28 books down, 24 to go. My page count now totals 8,198. What wonderful books have you all discovered lately?


Charlotte said...

Ah, I loved 3 cups of tea too! It made me want to go do something good - hugely philanthropic! But I couldn't think of antyhing....

Elizabeth-W said...

I'm adding The Bat Poet to my goodreads/to pick up at the library list. Thanks!
I'll send you my goodreads thing--we can compare :)

Kelly said...

I don't know if your version of The Bat Poet is the same as the one we did for Junior Great Books, but I love when the bat shares his poem with the mockingbird, and the mockingbird does a very in depth critical analysis of it, and then says it's pretty good (but not as good as his own poetry, of course).

Would you be willing to pay the poet to write you a poem about yourself? Do you think you would like it?

Amanda Cook said...

Dear Sister:
I'm not a reader but when I discovered your blog it was if I was looking at a mirrir image of my life. My depression started with the sudden tragic death of my mother and was then compounded by the birth of my first son two months later. After couseling and medication it's nice to be on an even keel.
Thank you for your honesty, when talking to people they often don't get it and I feel that little sting from the stigma. And I have found only a few that understand. Even my husband doesn't get it all.
I really appreciate your blog and will keep checking in on your progress. Good luck my prayers are with you. Thanks again! -Amanda, bacook.blogspot.com

Laura said...

Kelly--I'd pay YOU to write a poem about me :) I think one thing I like about the Bat-poet was how applicable it made poetry. People tend to view poetry as something apart from our lives, but I think a lot of it is written to bring insight.

Amanda--thanks for stopping by. I hope that by blogging about my troubles we can share our burdens. We're not alone in this. We have the gospel and we have each other!

Tamarra said...

I'm so excited to see someone else who's blogged about Three Cups of Tea--because of it I'm now a Middle East Studies minor taking Arabic next Fall. Reckless? A phase? I don't think so, because what the book did was reinforce my belief that the people of Pakistan and the surrounding regions are essential good -- which why wouldn't they be if we're all God's children?-- and that our safety as a nation lies in reaching out to them and denouncing the misunderstandings that go both ways.

Also, I have a friend who went through depression to the point of hospitalization and shock therapy. She is currently working on publishing a collection of poetry which I will update anyone on if they're interested. Meanwhile, my dad who went through a phase of near depression has since published the book "Trust in the Lord: Reflections on Christ." NOT through Deseret (he wanted to share his love with Christ with all, not just LDSaints) but Cedar Forts publishing. Apart from my bias, I recommend it for the darkest of moments that we all see.

Laura said...

Tamarra--thanks for the comments. Good for you for becoming a MidEast Studies major. That sounds so exciting! My heart goes out to your friend (what a nightmare for her!) and to you father. Good for him for writing a book. I'll have to check it out. Please do keep us posted on the book of poetry.

Karla said...


I just found your blog today and wanted to thank you so much for this. I've been struggling so much. I'm a 5 or 6th generation LDS in SouthEastern Utah, so I'm related to everyone here and the pressure to be the perfect Mormon mom is so hard. I've struggled with depression for almost as long as I can remember, but officially since I was 21.

I haven't prayed in forever, because it feels hopeless a lot of the time, but I think God knew I needed help and I found your blog while browsing around.

Thanks again

PS--Why would anyone vacation in Moab?? Seriously? I have lived 50 miles from there my whole life (minus college) and to me it's like Dante's Inferno. I'm kidding.
The scenery is amazing, but yeouch it's too hot there.

Thanks again

Laura said...

Amanda and Karla--thanks for stopping by! Sorry it took me so long to respond to you guys. Thanks for strengthening me by reading my blog. I hope it helps buoy you all up too :) Depressed Mormon chicks rock!

Th. said...


Oh, I love the Little Prince and the Bat-Poet both.