The Learning Resources Department is pleased to announce Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder as St. Petersburg College’s One Book, One College title for 2014. SPC faculty, staff and students nominated a record high of 41 titles for the common reading program.
Kudos to Joy Moore, Academic Chair for Mathematics at the Clearwater Campus, for her nomination of Mountains Beyond Mountains.
In the non-fiction book, Tracy Kidder relates a compelling story of the life and work of Paul Farmer, a doctor and anthropologist devoted to a new vision of health care in third world nations. As a student at Duke, Farmer discerns his life’s mission and continues to pursue it with passion today. (A local note: Farmer grew up in Brooksville.)
The goal of One Book, One College is to have as many people as possible read the book, partner with campus librarians on programming and engage in discussion with students and colleagues.
You can share resources and ideas on the One Book, One College – 2014 Guide. Mountains Beyond Mountains is available through the SPC library website. It also is widely available at bookstores and online.
To start the conversation, here are some questions for reflection:
- Mountains Beyond Mountains opens with an encounter between Paul Farmer and a United States Special Forces Captain in which both Farmer and the captain express frustration with limits on the military intervention in the area in Haiti. How would you describe the effectiveness of the United States’ foreign policy and intervention in Haiti?
- In Mountains Beyond Mountains, Paul Farmer uses the phrase “preferential option for the poor” (p. 81). How does this relate to liberation theology? The cultural beliefs in Haiti?
- In Mountains Beyond Mountains, Jim Kim and Paul Farmer refer to People magazine as the Journal of Popular Studies (JPS). While most people read People magazine as a source of entertainment, Farmer considers the publication as an anthropological artifact.
- What is the significance of cultural media?
- What do cultural magazines such as People tell us about society?
- How might an anthropologist or historian five hundred years from now interpret People magazine?
- In Chapter 19 of Mountains Beyond Mountains, Jim spearheads an effort to lower the cost of capreomycin, the drug most commonly used to treat MDR-TB. How do economic and political factors affect the production, cost, and distribution of prescription drugs?
- Why do you think the author, Tracy Kidder, decided to make himself a character in Mountains Beyond Mountains?
- Take stock of your assets (personal and financial). Farmer took time in college to identify and determine how to he would use his assets. What steps might you take to determine how to use your assets? What resources does SPC have to help you do that?
- The events in Mountains Beyond Mountains take place primarily in the 1990s, before the rise of social media. If Farmer and his colleagues started Partners in Health today, what impact might social media have of the establishment and growth of the organization? On the direction of Partners in Health’s work? Consider positive and negative implications.
- Partners in Health works with many people and organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to achieve its goals. Consider the work of Bill Gates as the Founder and CEO of Microsoft, and as the Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. From your perspective, in which role has he had the greatest impact on society? Why?
- In Chapter 9 of Mountains Beyond Mountains, Farmer states that rich people should feel guilt toward the poor “because it could cause them to part with some of their money. And they ought to feel guilty besides” (p. 93). Do you agree that the rich should feel guilt toward the poor? Why or why not?