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I chuckled when “Authentic Happiness” checked in as “The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook.”

July 3, 2015

It was either Robert MacFarlane or W.G. Sebald, and a quick keyword search of the web via Google produced the answer: It was MacFarlane commenting on Sebald in the film “Patience (after Sebald).”

(Confirming this fact in seconds is so remarkable a feat that we no longer comment on it. As Fred said, “Luxury becomes the new norm.” It’s been true with gas grills, long hot showers, desert lawns.)

What MacFarlane noted was that American tradition sees walking as discovery, while in English tradition, walking is recovery. This immediately struck me as true, even though Sebald’s narrator in “The Rings of Saturn” ends his walk going straight into the hospital, overwhelmed by his thoughts and associations on the trip.

I haven’t given anything away (you learn this immediately), and I recommend MacFarlane and Sebald for summer reading. There are, of course, many current popular books to be had for the summer, but I was pleased to note older titles being read.

The week before last, we had two consecutive days in which we could not check in or out in the usual way, and the returning books, DVDs, etc., filled all our carts, awaiting check-in. I couldn’t help but look at what was there.

There was Ivan Doig’s “Eleventh Man” and “Prairie Nocturne.” I’ve never read his much-loved fiction, but “This House of Sky” is one of the best memoirs I’ve read. A remarkable book. He died in April at 75.

On the same cart was Kent Haruf’s first book, “The Tie That Binds.” And Wallace Stegner’s “Crossing to Safety.” Patrick O’Brian’s “Master and Commander,” the first in the still popular Aubrey-Maturin series about life at sea 200 years ago.

I spotted Steve Martin’s movie “The Jerk,” perhaps as classic as Paul Scott’s “The Raj Quartet.” Maybe not. There was Farley Mowat’s first book, “People of the Deer,” and I thought: Wasn’t that Frank Waters? But no, Frank Waters wrote “People of the Valley” and “The Man Who Killed the Deer,” both highly recommended.

There was “The Moving Target” by John Macdonald. Wasn’t that Ross Macdonald? We have an old copy, and it was first published as “John,” but the author subsequently changed to “Ross” to avoid confusion with “John D. Macdonald,” another mystery writer. Neither was his real name anyway.

I saw other favorite books: “Migraine” by Oliver Sacks, as fascinating as any of his works, and “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande, a book about which I was fairly evangelical.

Two titles caught my eye, and library staff may wish me to read them: “Throw Out Fifty Things” by Gail Blanke and “Being Wrong” by Katherine Schulz. I mean, Kathryn.

“The Psychology of Gratitude” was right there beside “Authentic Happiness.” David Brooks’ “The Road to Character,” which I’m happy to mention despite his disappointment with Pope Francis’s recently released encyclical.

(I’ll read the entire encyclical in July when we get the printed version, but I think Brooks misses the point. The statement “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth” Brooks called “overdrawn,” criticism made in luxury. For far too many people, the Pope’s statement is true.)

But I digress. The problem that kept these books on carts for days caused some items and titles to be mismatched. So I chuckled when “Authentic Happiness” checked in as “The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook.”

Don’t worry, the barcode number of the item in hand is what matters. The mismatched title problem is nearly solved. Thanks for your patience.


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  1. Jeff, now that the glitch is in the past, I hope it is safe to say how tickled I was to read about the tech-related difficulties reaching Salida. While one might expect such trouble in the big city, it seems oddly out of place in your library. After all, yours is a Carnegie library, and history doesn’t mention databases or scan codes.

    Of course, there are now virtually no limits to the extent of the reach of technology…or our vulnerability to its breakdown. I hope your system is now working harmoniously.

  2. I really like this category of post when you react to stuff that you see.

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