Every college student, no matter their major, is required to do intensive and often tedious reading. So why consider reading anything that isn’t an essential part of the curriculum? In his freshman welcome letter, President Holland encouraged incoming students to read two novels; Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and journalist David Oliver Relin, and Revolutionary Characters, by Gordon Wood. Each of these novels offer powerful insight into their targeted arena of study. Apart from the incentive of acquiring knowledge in two vastly different areas, President Holland will also be leading a discussion of both books at his home located on campus. Three Cups of Tea will be discussed on Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. and Revolutionary Characters will be discussed on Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. For those who responded to President Holland’s invitation by the Aug. 15 deadline, hopefully you were able to finish the books. For those of you looking to bamboozle your way through the discussion, here is a rundown of each book…

Three Cups of Tea

The novel describes Mortenson’s failed endeavor to climb the second highest mountain in the world, Pakistan’s K2, and the humanitarian events that followed. Upon descending, Mortenson deviated into the most dismal region of northern Pakistan where he was taken care of by native villagers. During his recovery, he realized the village’s desperate need for educational access. He thereafter co-founded the Central Asia Institute, which has so far built 78 schools throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan, accommodating some of the poorest children in the world. The book’s title was taken from the Balti proverb: “The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family.” The book has received considerable recognition. as has its author, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize among other commendations.

Revolutionary Characters

This novel, authored by renowned historian Gordon S. Wood, remarkably highlights the founding fathers. Each founder’s character is individually and collectively analyzed in a way which humanizes them to contemporary generations. Wood discusses what made them stray from the conventions of their own period in favor of public duty, and compares that to contemporary mainstream thought. He describes the essential role each founder played in the configuration of the United States. Wood presents the extraordinary quality of their characters as common ground, while simultaneously accentuating their unique attributes. The fictitious impressions they have become in the minds of Americans fades in place of a renewed appreciation for who these men were and the pivotal roles they played in defining our country.