Pushing the Limits of reader endurance 2013.02.06

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

There’s one thumb up and one thumb down at the Mepham house.

Rick is having a good time with the first of four books in the Pushing the Limits program at Stair Public Library, but his wife, Karen, is still waiting to be taken in.

The book “Thunderstruck” by Erik Larson weaves a true story of love and murder with a major scientific leap forward in communication.

Morenci’s library is one of 20 in the nation selected to serve as a pilot site to try out the new program which encourages people think more about the role of science in their everyday lives.

A book discussion, paired with two short video presentations, is scheduled at the library Feb. 28. Other discussions will follow on the last Thursday of the month through May.

Karen Mepham said she and her husband are working through the book together by listening to it read on CDs. So far they’ve heard two of 10 discs.

She’s not very fond of listening instead of reading, but they decided to give it a try when they had a short trip coming up.

“Rick really likes it,” she said, but she’s finding it challenging.

A major part of the story tells the process that Guglielmo Marconi went through in developing “the wireless,” a telegraph without wires. Marconi was eventually successful in sending messages across the Atlantic Ocean—a feat that astounded people around the world.

Adrian College professor Adam Coughlin, who will serve as the “science guy” during the four book discussions, really appreciated “Thunderstruck” for a couple of reasons.

“I’m a little bit of a history buff and also a science nut, of course, so I’ve really enjoyed it,” he said. “I really think it’s worth reading.”

Adam recalls a project he was engaged in while working on his doctorate and it took him more than a year to make it come out correctly.

“So when Marconi had his failures, it took me back to a year in grad school,” he said.

All the trials and errors of the scientific process dogged Marconi for years before he got it right, and Larson writes about that time in great detail.

“I can see where many people would struggle with the minutiae of Marconi’s work,” Adam said, and Sharon Bruce seconds that opinion.

“It’s a good story, but it took too long to get there,” she said. “I know the author wanted it to be historically correct, but there are too many details. I’m not much of a science person.”

Sharon is the sort of person that the creators of Pushing the Limits had in mind when they designed the program. They knew it would be of interest to someone like Adam, but their goal is to draw in those who don’t think about science on a daily basis.

Sharon said she found it very interesting to learn about Marconi’s invention and the role it played in the murder mystery told in the book.

She’ll be sure to attend the book discussion at 7 p.m. Feb. 28 to compare notes with others who read or tried to read the story.

She figures that the mixed reviews of the book will lead to a more interesting discussion than if everyone loved it.

As with all of the library’s book discussions, there’s no requirement that a book has to be read in order to join the group. The public is invited to participate in the talk or just listen in.

Karen heard from Stair Public Library director Colleen Leddy that it wasn’t until the final few chapters of the book when she really started enjoying the story. 

“That’s the part I’m really interested in,” Karen said, but she’s willing to work through the early material.

Edwardian London with its Scotland Yard detectives, its séances and magicians, its jealous inventors and enormous ocean liners, and a very mysterious murder—that’s what lies ahead for those who ply through the pages.

• Pushing the Limits is a reading, viewing and discussion program for adults in communities served by rural libraries, made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The program is the work of a team of library professionals, scientists, and filmmakers. Their organizations include Dartmouth College, the Association for Rural and Small Libraries, the Califa Group (a California-based library consortium), Dawson Media Group, and Oregon State University.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016