Fourth Carroll County Reads wrapped up at library

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

When I was a kid, I loved to read. I remember spending dark, gloomy Saturdays reading books I’d taken out of the library at school, or our county library – to which I was a card-carrying member from a very early age.

As an adult, I’m ashamed to say that I’m lucky to read more than one book a year.

It’s my own fault, ultimately, for not taking the time to do it. The time is there, but the will doesn’t always follow.

When you’re editor of a newspaper, you do a LOT of reading every day. And sometimes, I just want to do something that requires little of my brain – like watch TV.

So, every year, when the Carroll County Reads program comes around, I’m psyched. But I’m not always successful. The first year, with “A Parchment of Leaves,” I read the book and attended one of the discussions and the talk by the author. It was a lot of fun.

The second year, I hate to admit,  I started but never did finish “Hannah Coulter,” Wendell Berry’s book. I enjoyed it, but got caught up with work. (Or, maybe I just got lazy.)

Last year, I finally got a copy of “Four Spirits” ... but not until after the final program, when the author came to town to talk about writing the book that was a fictionalized account about real events that happened during the civil rights era of the 1960s.

I still haven’t read it.

This year, with renewed purpose, I got a copy of  “Three Cups of Tea” as early as I could. I started reading it, and I fell in love with it.

I still struggled, though. I am one of the slowest readers I know, which was probably my greatest hardship while I was majoring in English literature at Ohio University.

I remember one quarter when I was taking a comparative literature course featuring E.L. Doctorow and John Irving. In the 10-week class, we were supposed to read five novels by each of the writers. And that was on top of a Tudor history class and other classes laden with heavy reading material.

Suffice it to say, I sought out Cliff and his notes whenever I could. (My apologies to all current and former English teachers.)

But I’m proud to say, I made it through “Three Cups” just in time for Monday’s discussion hosted by Robin Kates. It was a very enjoyable hour discussing a book that appears to have had a very profound impact on everyone who has read it.

Wednesday was the final program at Carroll County Public Library, and included a video and slideshow presentation of the work done by Greg Mortenson, the “hero” in this nonfiction work. He has spent more than a decade helping to build schools for boys – and especially girls – in Pakistan and Afghanistan. His story, told with vivid description, is an inspiration.

Though the program is over, I encourage everyone to read the book. He is a fascinating, determined and unassuming man who one day promised to build a school for a poor village in Pakistan near K2, the second-highest mountain in the Himalayas.

He kept that promise, and then some.

You may be able to get a returned copy of the book – many people donate them back when they are finished reading them.

Whether you read fast or slow, you will be glad, at the end, that you took the time to read this book.

Phyllis McLaughlin is editor of The News-Democrat.