Saturday, February 16, 2008

Books That Stay With You

What a great pleasure it is to read! From escapism and adventure, learning about new cultures, the latest in medical science, about the food we eat, to impressive people. Sometimes a book really "sticks" for a long time. The San Francisco Chronicle had an article on February 8th about such a book. Tracy Kidder's book Mountains Beyond Mountains was the story of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Harvard-educated physician who built a health clinic in Haiti among the poorest of the poor. Later on, he developed services for prisoners in Russia, and people in several countries who had multiple drug resistant Tuberculosis. He has worked with prisoners, families, orphans and is a truly determined hero. Since reading that book I've told many people about it, and saw Dr. Farmer speak at a wonderful fundraiser for Orphans of Rwanda last winter. He inspired a huge crowd of young prosperous professionals and drew record attendance to a fundraiser for a San Francisco group that provides books, food, housing and education for university bound students who will become the next generations of leaders, educated within Rwanda. I was delighted to read about the numerous non-profit groups that have been started and maintained by people who were inspired to action by this story. Isn't it a real privilege to read about the impact, struggle, persistence and passion of a man or woman who has made a difference? This book was written in 2003 which is in its 19th printing! Good tales about true heros will always have a long term following. Thank you Paul Farmer for teaching us that one person can make things happen that have a huge impact on the lives of others. And thank you Tracy Kidder for writing this particular book.

I'm very interested in books that have had an impact on you, for whatever reason. Joan Didion's
honesty in The Year of Magical Thinking was, I agree, an amazing act of honesty and skill. It "sticks" doesn't it? I'd love to hear from you about some of your favorite books of the last several years. What was it about them that made them linger in your memory or impact your thinking? One of the pleasures of a blog is this kind of exchange. Until next time...

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