If you didn’t pick up books as a kid chances are good that you read the wrong stuff. I certainly didn’t think the highest of the things my teachers told me to read. But as an adult I discovered something they presumably didn’t want me to know: math, science, and history as they pertain to cars, are really quite fun.

For example, the Second Law of Thermodynamics may have left you cold but you’ll understand it and infinitely more complicated things, like how an air conditioning system works after professors Chisenhall and Davis explain it in How to Air Condition your Hot Rod. And forget about energizing a nail to make a magnet; Dennis Overholser’s Hot Rod Wiring reveals how to electrify an entire car.

Dad would’ve gotten something far more useful than a tie rack had your shop teacher used Joseph Potak’s GM LS-Series Engines: The Complete Swap Manual or Gerry Burger’s How to Build Period Correct Hot Rods as your textbook. If Joseph Cabadas taught history he would’ve used ’40 Ford: Evolution, Design, Racing, Hot Rodding to explain how the car came to pass three score and a dozen years ago. You would’ve also studied show-car history in Bob Larivee’s Show Car Dreams: The Art and Color of Sixty Years of Indoor Custom Car and Hot Rod Shows.

Even I would’ve taken art classes if Pat Ganahl’s Ed “Big Daddy” Roth: His Life, Times, Cars, and Art were considered one of the field guides to the masters. Courtesy of our longtime pal LeRoi “Tex” Smith, we have a piece of fictional literature in 1320: Maybe Not What You Think.

So if you didn’t take to reading when you were a kid, here’s your second chance. Every one of these titles is extremely entertaining. And if you’re not careful, you may actually learn a thing or two.

How To Air Condition Your Hot Rod

Not all that long ago, only highly trained professionals could install or service an automotive air conditioning system. We in the publishing field would like to think we changed that but we’re the first to admit that it wouldn’t have been possible without the contributions of industry experts. And among those, we’re pretty confident that Jack Chisenhall, whether directly or through his company, Vintage Air, and its employees, contributed most profoundly.

Chisenhall outdid himself recently. He teamed up with engineer Norman Davis to publish what may qualify as the definitive book about aftermarket air conditioning. How To Air Condition your Hot Rod covers everything necessary to design and install a new climate-control system or improve, retrofit, or repair an existing one.

This is more than simply a compendium of magazine articles. Chisenhall and Davis approach the subject academically, beginning with a brief history of air conditioning that leads to a plain-English description of how refrigeration works. The authors relate the physics of heat transfer in nine ways: Heat, cold, heat transfer, conduction, convection, radiation, changing states of matter, latent heat, and pressure’s effect on vaporization. These concepts, dubbed “Cool Science,” offer great insight to the how and why of refrigeration. In fact, when combined with the simple schematics interspersed along Chapter 1, it’s almost difficult to justify the notion that air conditioning is so misunderstood.

The second chapter exists exclusively to explain how legislation advanced, not beset, air-conditioning technology. But more than sell the idea of responsible use, it reveals the potential issues that threaten to compromise an install or retrofit. This chapter alone makes the book a must-have for anyone with an existing system for it may just answer questions one never would’ve thought to ask about system performance.

Chapters 3 (components), 4 (planning), and 5 (installation) go hand-in-hand for reasons that are obvious and, frankly, not-so obvious (ergonomics, for example). The planning chapter in particular gives would-be installers insight as to how to build a car not merely around a climate-control system as much as with it in mind.