Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Summer Reading, Summer Learning

Summer is often thought of as a time to relax and kick back with a great beach read; however, challenge yourself this summer with our great Summer Reading Program and a little summer learning.  KHCPL is bursting with the fun, unusual, and unexpected in the world of nonfiction. Here are a few of our favorites:

Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World
You might think we’re bananas for recommending a book entirely about a single yellow fruit, but this fascinating read will take you along on the exciting adventure of getting a small tropical fruit halfway across the globe and into American hands in an era before refrigeration. It also explores the delicate future of this beloved fruit, which is the fourth most harvested crop on Earth (yes, only wheat, rice, and corn beat out this distinctive fruit).

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
Ok, maybe bananas aren’t your thing – but who hasn’t dreamed of shooting off into space? The author of Stiff and Bonk explores the irresistibly strange universe of space travel and life without gravity. Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, and beer! Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a spacewalk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour? To answer these questions, Mary Roach explores (and often participates in) all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations.

Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone
Alone this summer? Don’t fret; you’re not alone!  More and more Americans (and people throughout the world) are choosing to live by themselves. Explore the fascinating social developments that have led to a modern society of singledom.

Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us
Have you fallen behind on your New Year’s resolutions to get fit? Here’s a great book to jumpstart your health goals. This bestseller chronicles the frightening ways that the food industry uses the addicting combo of salt, sugar, and fat to keep you buying – and keep you fat!  Though be warned – you might never look at your grocery store the same again. Don’t want to read this book?  Why not try the audio download available through OverDrive.

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the whaleship Essex
Once a tale included in most every American’s school curriculum, the disastrous journey of the whaleship Essex, which inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick, is an adventure tale like none other. Don’t have time to read the book? Why not watch the movie starring Chris Hemsworth?

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat
When we think of technology, we often turn to our iPhones and computers; however, thousands of years of trial-and-error lead to the development of our common kitchen wares. Travel the globe with Bee Wilson to see how the technologies of cooking and eating have developed in different cultures throughout time. 

Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
Say cheese! In this acclaimed memoir from photographer Sally Mann, she traces her own family history in the American South and examines the role it has played in her legendary career. Sorting through boxes of family papers and yellowed photographs, she finds more than she bargained for: deceit and scandal, alcohol, domestic abuse, car crashes, bogeymen, clandestine affairs, dearly loved and disputed family land, racial complications, vast sums of money made and lost, the return of the prodigal son, and maybe even murder.

Don’t have time to read this summer?  Why not try one of our blockbuster documentaries?

"Fed Up"
Narrated by Katie Couric, this film blows the lid off everything previously known about food and exercise. The documentary follows a group of children and their families as they battle childhood obesity.

"Cartel Land"
In the Mexican state of Michoacán, Dr. JosĂ© Mireles, a small-town physician known as "El Doctor," leads the Autodefensas, which is a citizen uprising against the violent Knights Templar drug cartel. Meanwhile, in Arizona's Altar Valley, Tim "Nailer" Foley, an American veteran, heads a small paramilitary group called Arizona Border Recon whose goal is to stop Mexico's drug wars from seeping across the US border.

"Tavis Smiley Reports: Too Important to Fail: Investigating the Alarming Dropout Rate of African American Males"
In his primetime special, local favorite Tavis Smiley examines one of the most disturbing aspects of the education crisis facing America today -- the increased dropout rate among black teenage males.

Did we miss your favorite work of nonfiction?  We’d love to hear your unusual finds in the comments below.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Greatest Spectacle in Racing: The Indianapolis 500

Are you all set for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing?  This year will be the Indy 500’s one hundredth running, so whether or not you’re a race fan, it’s a great year to learn a few new things about the race.

Did you know that the 500 has its very own historian?  Donald Davis, a native of Britain, can spout -- or write -- basically any race history you’d like to know and proves it in this official history of the race.  If you’d like to learn some trivia, Indianapolis 500: A Century of Excitement, with a chapter on each decade the race has existed, should do the trick.  Are you up for something darker?  Read about the year they stopped the 500.  If you just need to attend a party and sound smart, take a few minutes to learn about the legends who have driven Indy.

For a more interactive option, consider visiting an exhibit commemorating the anniversary or plan a trip to the track’s Hall of Fame Museum.  To pick up just enough to impress your friends, memorize a few key facts about the Borg-Warner trophy, including how tall it is and how much it weighs, or find out what happened to the Apperson Jack Rabbit that ran in the 1911 race.

If there’s a race fan in your life, a little online shopping could result in the perfect gift.  Historical radio broadcasts of past races are quite affordable, and the speedway carries a whole host of practical gifts as well.

What if your attention span for all things racing is limited (or possibly nonexistent)?  You can’t go wrong with mystery stories that all revolve around the race, so pick up Racing Can Be Murder.  Stretch it a little farther, and fans of Janet Evanovich could be enjoying a tale of car chases and kisses on the pretext that it’s about auto racing with Metro Girl.  You might even be willing to learn the basics of NASCAR when it’s laugh-out-loud funny in the hands of bestseller Sharyn McCrumb’s  Once Around the Track.
It’s also a great time to lay the groundwork with your kids or grandkids, future fans of racing in all its forms.  Build cars together out of toilet paper tubes, read about NASCAR, or go all out and make edible tiny teddy racing cars.  If the kids are a bit older, wow your tween or teen by sharing the lowdown on becoming a NASCAR pit crew member.  To learn more about the science behind racecars and what makes them go fast, check out Acceleration Nation or Anatomy of an Indy Car.

If you can’t be at the race track, the events are broadcast on both television and radio.  Serious race fans will also be watching the Monaco Grand Prix and NASCAR’s Charlotte 600 though it is not yet possible to see them all in person.  Luckily for us, we are near to the most important location in motor racing.

If you’ll be taking in the excitement of the race in person, expect things to look a little different this year due to Project 100.  Get your tickets and check out the parking map ahead of time.  Most of all, have a great time being a part of history as it happens.