Living Columns & Blogs

The space race started 60 years ago. Relive it with these Sputnik books

The start of the space race – the launching of a Soviet man-made earth satellite, Sputnik 1 – is shown in this photo from the Russian documentary film, “Ten Years of the Space Age.”
The start of the space race – the launching of a Soviet man-made earth satellite, Sputnik 1 – is shown in this photo from the Russian documentary film, “Ten Years of the Space Age.” Associated Press

The Fresno County Library’s Bookshelf column shares suggestions for books, music, and other items, and provides information about library programs.

60 Years After Sputnik

Sputnik, the first artificial Earth satellite, was launched by the Soviet Union on Oct. 4, 1957, effectively kick-starting the space race.

▪ “Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth,” by Frank Cottrell Boyce. Here’s fantasy fiction for teens with a historical bent: Prez Mellows of Scotland joins to save the world with an extraterrestrial named Sputnik, after the pioneering Russian spacecraft.

Sputnik 1001
“Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth” by Frank Cottrell Boyce MACMILLAN CHILDREN’S BOOKS

▪ “Eisenhower’s Sputnik Moment: The Race for Space and World Prestige,” by Yanek Mieczkowski. A gripping account of the days after the Sputnik launch, when the U.S. space program was revealed suddenly to lag behind the Soviet Union’s – and what was done to close the gap.

▪ “Sputnik Declassified,” by Rushmore DeNooyer. In this PBS documentary, the real reasons behind America’s delayed entry into the “space race” – many of them political and bureaucratic – are explored. Available as a Library DVD, or may be watched online at

Top 5 most requested books

▪ “It,” by Stephen King.

▪ “The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye,” by David Lagercrantz.

The Girls Who Takes an Eye.....
“The Girl Who Takes An Eye For An Eye” by David Lagercrantz KNOPF

▪ “What Happened,” by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

▪ “Enemy of the State: A Mitch Rapp Novel,” by Kyle Mills.

▪ “A Legacy of Spies,” by John le Carré.

New arrivals

▪ “The Last Chicago Boss: My Life with the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club,” by Peter James. Journey into the real-life “Sons of Anarchy” with a living biker legend as your guide.

▪ “Lightning Men,” by Thomas Mullen. This sequel to “Darktown” returns to post-World War II Atlanta, where the Ku Klux Klan, moonshiners and assorted criminals threaten to make the city explode with violence.

Lightning Men
“Lightning Men” by Thomas Mullen SIMON AND SCHUSTER

▪ “Cherished Mercy,” by Tracie Peterson. When Mercy Flanagan wishes to escape tensions between settlers and Native Americans in early Oregon, she moves south to find conditions the same there, if not worse. The final installment in the author’s Heart of the Frontier series.


▪ Duct Tape Kit:Come and make what you want with duct tape. 3-4 p.m. Thursday, Mosqueda Branch Library. Details: 559-600-4072.

▪ AuthorTalk: Larry Parmeter will discuss his novel about loss, grief, hope and recovery, “A Season for All Things,” which is set in the Fresno-Madera area. 6:30-8p.m. Wednesday, Gillis Branch Library. Details 559-225-0140; and 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, Caruthers Branch Library. Details 559-864-8766.

▪ Car Repair for Women: Learn the basics of car care from local expert Hector Chapa. He will demonstrate how to fix a tire; check oil, fluids, and tire pressure; and much more. Guys are welcome, too. 10-11 a.m. Saturday, Orange Cove Branch Library. Details: 559-600-9292.

This is a weekly column written by the Fresno County Public Library staff. Events are usually free. Visit, or call 559-600-6227 for details.