This July, our nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first manned mission to land on the Moon. The Apollo 11 spacecraft launched from Cape Kennedy on July 16, 1969. A short time later, on July 20, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to take a step on another planetary body. Michael Collins was also part of the Apollo 11 crew as the command module pilot, tasked to stay in orbit around the Moon as Armstrong and Aldrin left in the Apollo Lunar Module to make the Moon landing.
Our Summer Reading Club at the Delaware County District Library (DCDL) took inspiration from this anniversary and is appropriately themed “A Universe of Stories.” We have planned an exciting book club and speaker series geared toward adults, titled “A Universe of Storytellers.”
The series will begin with a lunchtime book club, which will meet monthly at the Fresh Start Café and Bakery in downtown Delaware. The club will discuss applicable reading material about our universe, then a little over a week later at the Delaware Main library, a speaker will give a related presentation in the evening. Books will be made available for checkout at any DCDL branch, and we’re also partnering with Beanbag Books (formerly Fundamentals) in downtown Delaware for book sales prior to the book clubs and during the speaker presentations.
The series kicks off with a “Readers’ Choice” book club on June 19 at 12 p.m. Readers can choose to read the aforementioned Michael Collins’ “Carrying the Fire” or Andy Weir’s novel “Artemis.” The two books show a vastly different picture of the Moon. One is told from the real-life perspective of an astronaut, and one comes from the fictional mastermind who brought us “The Martian” about a Moon heist.
The following week, on Thursday, June 27 at 6:30 p.m., veteran reporter Jim Slade will offer a presentation on his four-decade career in journalism covering NASA, the space race, and space exploration. All speaker presentations will be at the Delaware Main Library, and will have accompanying refreshments provided by our partners at Fresh Start Café and Bakery.
July’s book club discusses “The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth” by Rachel Ignotofsky on July 17 at noon. On July 25 at 6:30 p.m., Ignotofsky will come to the library for her presentation and book signing. The series wraps up in August with the book club discussing Robert Kurson’s “Rocket Men” on Aug. 14 at noon. Kurson will be the final storyteller in the series at the library on Aug. 22 at 6:30 p.m.
I hope you will add these dates and times to your calendar and join us to hear stories from these award-winning speakers. My book recommendations this week come from, of course, the titles that will be discussed as part of the “Universe of Storytellers” series.
• “Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys” by Michael Collins. The years that have passed since Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins piloted the Apollo 11 spacecraft to the moon in July 1969 have done nothing to alter the fundamental wonder of the event: man reaching the moon remains one of the great events—technical and spiritual—of our lifetime. In “Carrying the Fire,” Collins conveys, in a very personal way, the drama, beauty, and humor of that adventure. He also traces his development from his first flight experiences in the air force, through his days as a test pilot, to his Apollo 11 voyage, presenting an evocative picture of the joys of flight as well as a new perspective on time, light, and movement from someone who has seen the fragile earth from the other side of the moon.
• “Artemis” by Andy Weir. Augmenting her limited income by smuggling contraband to survive on the Moon’s wealthy city of Artemis, Jazz agrees to commit what seems to be a perfect, lucrative crime, only to find herself embroiled in a conspiracy for control of the city.
• “The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth: Understanding Our World and Its Ecosystems” by Rachel Ignotofsky. An illustrated tour of the planet exploring ecosystems large and small, from reefs, deserts, and rainforests to a single drop of water. Making earth science accessible and entertaining through art, maps, and infographics, Ignotofsky explains how our planet works—and how we can protect it—from its diverse ecosystems and their inhabitants, to the levels of ecology, the importance of biodiversity, the cycles of nature, and more. Science- and nature-loving readers of all ages will delight in this utterly charming guide to our amazing home.
• “Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man’s First Journey to the Moon” by Robert Kurson. Shares the lesser-known inside story of the dangerous Apollo 8 mission, focusing in particular on the lives and families of astronaut heroes Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders, while illuminating the political factors that prompted America to risk lives to save the Apollo program and define the space race.