Adult Recommendations

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer

In the sub-Saharan country of Mali, Abdel Kader Haidara was 17 years old when his father died and he became the custodian of the family’s library—a collection of five thousand manuscripts in Timbuktu and about eight times that many in their ancestral home in Bamba. Not long after, the director of the Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research in Timbuktu hired him to collect and preserve manuscripts.

Over the years, Haidara located thousands of manuscripts from as early as the 11th century on diverse topics including Islamic jurisprudence, Korans, theological treatises, conflict resolution, contemporary politics, geography, poetry, and astrology. He struggled to save these priceless manuscripts from the devastating effects of mold, termites, and dust because they had been hidden in holes in the ground, caves, secret closets, and storage rooms. Then Al Qaeda’s presence in the area changed everything. It became painfully clear they would need to save as many of the 377,000 manuscripts under his purview from Al Qaeda’s destruction of everything it considered to be sinful.

Readers will be swept into this gripping recounting of a frantic race by ordinary people against time and jihadists.

Glory over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

In this follow up to The KItchen House, Jamie Pyke, son of a white father and a slave mother, is currently living in Philadelphia as a free white business owner since fleeing from his life on a southern plantation.

 A good friend’s son who is Jamie’s house servant Pan, has disappeared and possibly been sold into slavery from the Philadelphia docks.  Jamie sets off on a journey to find Pan, which ultimately leads him back to his past and too close to the plantation life he fled with slave hunters on his trail.

The story is told via multiple narrators and is a gripping, fast-paced read.  Focusing on race, slavery, and the underground railroad, The Glory Over Everything attests to family ties and upbringing as strong influences.  Great read!

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Sometimes we overlook what's happening in our own backyard. For example, in the early 1900s, Wilbur and Orville Wright were making aviation history in Dayton, Ohio but the government and local press couldn't be bothered. Undeterred by local disinterest, the industrious brothers insisted a powered flying machine could become a reality. To help pay for mounting expenses, they started a thriving bicycle shop. Despite their successful test runs and achievements with powered flights, the press and the local community offered a collective yawn. How then did the Wright brothers achieve fame and fortune? To find out, read this excellent book.