This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, May 2, 1990

May 2, 1990 - Trash

Until she met me, Zanne, my wife, maintains that she was a person of culture. She read Kafka and Tolstoy -- in the original Russian. She admired the musical works of Shoenberg. She was a keen devotee of the paintings of Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and the other Impressionists.

It's not that my wife thinks I'm a mental midget. (I think.) She knows that I was a philosophy major in college. With her own eyes, she's seen me read a decent number of fairly big books.

But I believe that as we grow older, we cultivate new tastes. As for me, I have learned an appreciation for, well, trash.

Don't get me wrong. When librarians say "trash," we're not sitting in judgment. We're not condemning whole branches of writing as somehow substandard.

"Trash" is our shorthand and even affectionate phrase for a whole body of very popular literature. I'm talking about romances, either the squeaky clean variety, or the ones with a little oomph. I'm talking about gory mystery stories. I'm talking about Stephen King, and Sweet Valley High paperbacks, and "True Confessions." I'm talking about grocery store tabloids. I'm talking about the books most librarians usually read themselves. I'm talking about the reading materials that make money.
The turning point for Zanne was when I got her to read some of my comic books. I handed her a copy of a wickedly funny comic called "Howard the Duck." To my wife's amazement, she loved it. She read my whole HTD collection -- and I have the #whole# collection -- in one stretch.

Shortly afterward, I got her started on mysteries -- Raymond Chandler. Since then, there's been no stopping her.

But I'm not done corrupting her yet.

Last week, I bought a copy of a tabloid called "The Sun" from a gas station. The headline caught my eye: "Cheating Husband's Head Explodes." Mainly, I admit, I bought it to see if there were any pictures. But there was also an article no responsible American citizen could or should ignore: "UFO Aliens Forced Nixon to Resign," which in my judgment, explains a lot.

For just seventy-five cents, I got a lot of entertainment. And my wife read it too, although not where I could see her.

So okay, maybe I have lowered my wife's literary standards. But I'm not going to apologize. I think reading ought to be fun. For some people, it's Russian literature. For others, it's philosophy. And sometimes, even for the same people, it just might be "The Sun."

So stop by your local library branch and tell us what flavor of trash #you# enjoy. And don't be embarrassed. How will we react? Get ready for a surprise: We'll buy it. After all, it's #your# library. And besides, it could be we like it too.

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