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.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • 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

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