February 29, 2012 - human power

Filed under Book Research

I’m reading two fabulous books for grown-ups right now.  The first is called The Human-Powered Home: Choosing Muscles Over Motors, by Tamara Dean. It explores how our society largely lost interest in human-power after the invention of the combustion engine, and what a difference human power can make around the world. The book explores all sorts of ingenious, human-powered inventions. For example, in the early nineties, inventor Trevor Baylis learned that many people in Africa risked getting AIDS simply because they lacked access to information. So he developed a hand-cranked radio now used throughout sub-Saharan Africa in places where electricity isn’t available and batteries are too expensive. Brilliant! And equally brilliant, Play Pump International has developed water pumps that are fun to use: they’re powered by merry-go-rounds and teeter-totters! Such simple, sustainable solutions to big problems make me grin just thinking about them.

The other book I’m devouring right now is On Bicycles: 50 Ways the New Bike Culture Can Change Your Life, edited by Amy Walker. These fifty short essays cover everything from how to become a bicycle commuter, to bike parties and the history of bike advocacy. Together, the essays celebrate bicycles, simplicity, mobility, and life in general. It’s a great read for anyone who loves a bicycle.

And while I’m raving about bicycle books, I’ll add my toddler’s favourite: Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen, by Cari Best, is an inspiring picture book about freedom, empowerment and independence. But my toddler will tell you that it’s a great story, with singable rhyming bits and drawings that make us smile. Either way, it’s a wonderful book, and I highly recommend it.