I have previously confessed that I am a book buyer and as such I get a lot of pleasure from lending my books to other readers. Last week I was pleasantly surpised to receive back my copy of “Mountains beyond Mountains” by Tracy Kidder which is the story of Paul Farmer who has made it his life’s work to provide free healthcare to the poverty stricken of the world.
Paul Farmer, the subject of this book, may well be one of the most interesting people I have ever read about. Let’s start with his childhood. He was raised as the second of 6 children by parents who lived for the first part of his childhood in a bus. That was followed with his teenaged years living in a moored houseboat off the coast of Florida. But what I found most fascinating about this is that Paul and his siblings don’t really regard their upbringing as unusual!
Paul went on to study medicine and founded the Partners In Health organization whose mission is to provide free medical care. Their specialty is TB and AIDS and he began his practice in Haiti. In the book he claims his non traditional childhood may have helped prepare him for the back breaking labor and simple living conditions that go along with providing health care in third world countries.
You may think that reading this book would make you feel bad, perhaps cause you to consider that what you are doing isn’t enough. And I have to admit that part of me DID feel like that as I read the book.
But the other part, the more prevalent part just loved learning about what this amazing man was doing. And, of course, the cause is nobel and good and none of us is doing it like Paul Farmer. But honestly, that alone isn’t the only draw of this book. Paul is quirky, wicked smart, and a master wordsmith. My favorite part of the book is when Tracy Kidder starts talking about Paul as a “word gymnast”. Some of my favorite lines from the book are Paul’s sayings about the work he does. For example:
- “to commit a 7 – 3” which means using seven words when three would do.
- “a 99 – 100” was quitting on a nearly perfect job.
I don’t want to commit a “7 -3” so I will just end with this. “Read the Book”.