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Wish I had said that ...

In a blistering essay in the book section of The New York Times on Sunday, David Lehman skins, guts and chops into itty bitty pieces the academic elites in this country.

His report is aimed at broadening a discussion about poetry, which is regularly declared dead and unlikely to be revived.

But, in the course of that purpose, he has some scathing words about intellectual life in these United States. In the midst of his extended and finely argued rant, though, comes a stunning reference to an article in The Wall Street Journal written by Heather Mac Donald that says that UCLA has eliminated its core English requirements that students read Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton, requiring them instead to read "alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race and class."

In Lehman's mind, this coup "is but one event in a pattern that would replace a theory of education based on a 'constant, sophisticated dialogue between past and present' with a consumer mind-set based on narcissism and political self-interest."

The situation he describes throughout his essay is not just deplorable, but also scandalous.

Right-wing nuts don't have a corner on moral outrage. Just ask me.

Top checkouts in non-fiction

On Wednesday, I blogged about the most-checked-out fictional works during the first half of 2014.

Today, the top non-fiction checkouts: No. 1 is "Trapped Under the Sea" by Neil Swidey. No. 2 is "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War" by Robert Gates. No other books came close.

I don't know how those compare to the top sellers for the first six months, nationwide.

The 'young adult' phenomenon

The Nielsen list of the top 20 best-selling books in the first half of this year is out.

And the news is that young adult books dominate the list, starting with "Divergent" by Veronica Roth and "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green. "Fault" is No. 2 in paperback, No. 5 in hard-cover and No. 6 in its movie tie-in version.

Roth's other two books, "Insurgent" and "Allegient" are at No. 3 and No. 4 respectively.

Five of the Top 20 are some version of "Frozen."

The highest ranking work of nonfiction was Sarah Young's "Jesus Calling." And the highest rank for a work of "serious" literature was No. 20 for the Pulitzer-Prize winning "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt.

So, it's tempting to jump to the conclusion that -- wow! -- those teens are just reading up a storm, aren't they?

Well, nobody really knows. But, we librarians do know that a whole lot of the people who have checked out "The Fault in Our Stars" were not young adults at all. They were folks who don't have to be carded when they buy cigarettes or booze.

Our own "best sellers"

The last blog was about the Top 20 best-sellers according to Nielsen.

Today, I'm bringing you the local story.

"Missing You" by Harlan Coben is the book that was most checked out by patrons in the first six months of this year.

We have four copies of that book, and they have been checked out a total of 34 times. Demand seems to be cooling off, because we now have one book available on the shelf.

"Gods of Guilt" by Michael Connelly is No. 2 with 30 total checkouts.

At the No. 3 slot, we had a tie between "Take Down 21" and "Killer" with 19 each.

In Friday's blog I'll write about the top nonfiction books checked out in the first six months.

Want to help out?

We're looking for adults who are interested in volunteering here at the library on a regular basis.

Specifically, we are in need of help on Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons. Morning shifts are from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Afternoon shifts are from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

No experience in libraries is necessary.

What we'll have you doing is checking in and checking out materials and some shelving if you can do so.

If you are or someone you know is interested, please contact me at 512-847-2188 or come by the library and fill out a form.


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