PARIS — Paris Public Library will host a four-part reading, viewing and discussion series for adults called Pushing the Limits. Pushing the Limits brings together books and videos featuring authors, scientists and everyday people who thrive on exploring the natural world.

Since the beginning of time, humans have imagined and achieved ways to push the boundaries of the physical world. We want to be stronger, smarter, and more aware, and we have created stories where these dreams are realized. Many of these stories draw inspiration from advances in science and technology and, in turn, inspire further exploration. Humans are finding ways to push the limits every day.

The Pushing the Limits program will examine these ideas in discussions that will include feature film quality videos and recommended popular books. The overarching theme is one of real people, with real stories, at the edge of our knowledge.

Group discussion events will be held once a month for four consecutive months, looking at the following topics and books:

Survival: Clive Cussler, “Arctic Drift,” March 15. Cussler’s books often place his hero, Dirk Pitt, in extreme conditions — stranded on an arctic ice floe, adrift on a raft or even trapped in a sunken wreck — where he must struggle to survive.

Connection: Erik Larson, “Thunderstruck,” April 12. “Thunderstruck” tells the intersecting tales of Harvey Crippen, a murderer who fled from England to America to avoid capture, and Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of the wireless telegraph, the technology that makes Crippen’s apprehension possible.

Nature: T.C. Boyle, “When the Killing’s Done,” May 10. Boyle’s book fictionalizes a conflict between the National Park Service’s effort to destroy an invasive species and radical animal rights activists’ attempts to save the black rats that are threatening the native life of an island off the coast of California.

Knowledge: Jean Auel, “The Land of Painted Caves,” June 14. The most recent book in Auel’s bestselling “Earth’s Children” series brings readers back to the time when Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons connected, and to a world when genetic memory and experiential knowledge combined to influence which branches on the human tree survived.

The program’s short films tell the stories of Cory and Julie Shrum, a couple who work hard in farming and play hard in demolition derbies, in both of which only the strong survive; of Roxanne Swentzell, a woman of Native American descent who connects with her cultural history and the world through her work with clay; of Cameron Clapp, a triple amputee whose life and determination to run a triathlon shows how new technologies are pushing the limits of what it means to be human; and of Sean Brock, a celebrity chef from South Carolina, working to revitalize Southern cuisine by reviving heirloom crops and rare livestock.

The discussions will be held on the Saturdays of the above dates, starting at 1 p.m., with Sienna Tinsley facilitating the discussions. Tinsley has a Bachelor of Arts in geology from Amherst College and a Master of Science in crop and soil sciences from Michigan State University. She has traveled to Montana, Greece and Iceland on geology trips, and loves science because it explains how and why the world works.

The Paris Public Library is one of 75 rural public libraries in the United States chosen to participate in this program, which was developed by a team of library professionals, scientists and filmmakers from Dartmouth College, the Association for Rural and Small Libraries, the Califa Group (a California-based library consortium), Dawson Media Group and Oregon State University; all made possible through funding provided by the National Science Foundation.

The first discussion will be Saturday, March 15. The books used in the program will be available at the library. Reading the books is not necessary, though is very helpful, to participate in the programs, and participants are not required to attend all four discussions. The programs are free and open to all.

For more information, call the library at 743-6994, or email [email protected]


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