Nemo requested/demanded that we purchase Losing Our Cool–Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through Summer) and, despite containing a rather daunting quantity of data, it looks like a very sane book about the insanity that is our global addiction to air conditioning. Its statistics are bleak. 7 out of every 8 gallons of diesel fuel transported by the U.S. military to the middle east are used on air conditioning. Its tsunami of factual content however, isn’t entirely negative. For example: repeated exposure to high temperatures increases ones tolerance to temperatures–an evolutionary trait of ours that comes with all sorts of added benefits, while air-conditioning has hidden threats: dangerous micro-organisms, rampant and exponentially increasing energy consumption and the long-term version of the very discomfort it is meant to mitigate in the moment: global warming.
I’ve been on a selection committee for On the Same Page, an annual community reading event hosted by the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, tasked with the job of selecting a book that every man woman and child in Hamilton County will enjoy–and for the event’s tenth anniversary, no less, and although we haven’t officially made our selection, I’ve heard about many wonderful books we’ve missed. As a fan of the class Aves, I had to buy Border Songs by Jim Lynch, about a border patrol agent on the Canadian border who bird watches on the job and, to everyone’s surprise, excels at snagging illegal immigrants and drug runners.
Fans of Jennifer Egan (The Keep, etc.), whom Norm spotted pimping her wares on NPR this morning can now check out her “old school avante garde” and yes, experimental fiction, A Visit from the Goon Squad, a narrative that stretches from the 1970s to the 2020s and received Kirkus Reviews’ coveted Communist Red Star of Approval as “Another ambitious change of pace from talented and visionary Egan, who reinvents the novel for the 21st century while affirming its historic values.”
And for the indecisive, there’s always the database and algorithm at www.whatshouldireadnext.com.