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HuffPo lists the 10 most re-read library books — from 2004.

March 7, 2011

Frankenblogger

What a miracle of journalistic smoke and mirrors is the Huffington Post. I hope AOL did its due diligence before handing Aariana Huffington $315 for the liberal news aggregation site. Considering how well the merger with Time Warner went, I’m not betting on it.

Case in point: Today HuffPo’s book page trumpets “10 LIbrary Books Most Frequently Read More Than Once.” In fairness, the list is interesting and thought provoking (more about that in a moment), but I can find nothing in the HuffPo presentation to suggest that this list is an eight-year-old item swiped from the American Library Association.

In fact, the ALA is not even mentioned or otherwise given credit. You have to click on a link, “a group of panelist,” to find the real source of this outdated tidbit of information. If you don’t follow the link, it is very easy to conceive the notion that HuffPo organized the panel and compiled the information resulting in the list of books.

Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! HuffPo doing actual journalism? On a cultural puff-piece?  As anyone should know by now, HuffPo has a total of negative 12 employees, outsourcing what little actual journalism it generates to Bxzlgtrvrbrx  Prime, a sweat-shop planet in the ninth dimension.

Most of the copy you find on Huffington Post is either aggregated and/or appropriated from other news sources (and, as in this case, frequently misrepresented), or it’s the work of thousands of bloggers who contribute their work for free, apparently in the foolish belief that if they write brilliantly enough their efforts may result in some paying job or contract or something somewhere sometime.

I don’t want to be too hard in HuffPo. First, Ariana pocketed “only” $18 million in the AOL deal, according to New York magazine, and I have no doubt she worked very hard for it. It’s not easy putting together a bogus news site and making it look like the real thing.

Plus, HuffPo’s lead news pages, where, presumably, a few high-powered reporters do receive payment for their work (surely?) are often first-rate, making it –if only sporadically –the kind of authentic left-leaning news source it presents itself to be.

Really, though, with its sheening of the news (a smidgen of real journalism combined with sexy gossip and twisted takes on stories lifted from other places, all mixed into the journalistic equivalent of candy flavored methampetamine), HuffPo shows Ariana to be nothing so much as a progressive version of Rupert Murdoch.

Here, let me suggest some respectable progressive websites, the kind Emilio Estevez could take home and introduce to his dad: The Nation; or maybe the Center for American Progress; or possibly Mother Jones.

But these are serious, information-rich sites for the serious minded. They can be preachy, sometimes academic and sometimes sloppy. I’m as liberal as they come, but I let my subscription to the old-media version of Mother Jones lapse a year or two ago out of dismay at its poor editing, inconsistent writing and reporting and apparent lack of editorial direction.

For those readers — excuse, me, “unique visitors,” and there are 25 million of you, and you know who you are — already addicted to HuffPo’s jazzed-up blend of progressive analysis and prurient entertainment and cultural coverage, sites like The Nation are going to hold about as much charm as a Ralph Nader book signing.

Speaking of books, here is the list of 10 most re-read novels or short-story collections as determined by a panel convened by the American Library Association in 2004:

The Lord of the Rings; A Christmas Carol; To Kill a Mockingbird; Collected Works of Shakespeare; The Great Gatsby; Pride and Prejudice; the Harry Potter series; Little House on the Prairie; Winnie-the-Pooh; The Color Purple.

I seldom re-read, on the so-many-books-so-little-time principle, but I admit it’s been to my profit on those few occasions when I have — including two books on this list, The Lord of the Rings and The Great Gatsby. In both cases I liked these works much better as an adult than when I read them the first time as a teenager.

The same is true of Huckleberry Finn, Madame Bovary, and the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe. On the other hand, the second time around I thought much less of The Catcher in the Rye, Crime and Punishment, Of Human Bondage — and I could not make it through the first hundred pages of Atlas Shrugged (shudder!).

Let me end by asking: What books have you enjoyed re-reading? Or, what progressive or alternative news sites can you recommend? Yeah, I know, this is a kind of Frankenblog….

7 Comments leave one →
  1. John Karwacki permalink
    March 7, 2011 1:35 pm

    Recently reread the first “Dark Tower” book, “The Gunslinger” by King as I hear rumbles of a tv-moive-tv deal in the making. I stopped reading King back in the 80’s because either A: I grew up or B: I moved on. I am glad I reread it though, it’s damn fine and I am now slogging through the rest of the series, albeit on audio disc. Over the years I have not reread many like you – there is so much I haven’t read yet and only so many hours. I too reread “Gatsby” ocasionally because I find the language inspiring. “Stranger In a Strange Land” is another from my youth I had to re-indulge. One thing I refuse to reread in HuffPo. Thanks, Chauncey.

  2. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    March 7, 2011 3:41 pm

    I like the Dark Tower series quite a bit, too, although I think it could be a tad shorter. Some of King’s recent stuff is among his best. I especially recommend Duma Key. Grown-up pulp horror at its best.

  3. March 7, 2011 10:24 pm

    This reminds me of how out of touch I am. I’ve never seen the HoPuff, whoops, I mean HuffPo (Freudian slip?) and know little about her. I know she has an accent. Does that count? Re-read books? Just finished a second reading of James Brown’s LOS ANGELES DIARIES, perhaps the single best memoir I’ve ever read. I’ve read WAR & PEACE & ANNA KARENINA twice. If I live long enough I’ll read them again. CRIME & PUNISHMENT & THE POSSESSED twice as well. I should re-read THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV again, but it’s not as fast a read as Tolstoy’s Best Sellers. Oh, I just finished a first reading of Brown’s new memoir THIS RIVER (which sent me back for another go at the L.A. DIARIES. I’ll definitely read RIVER again and recommend it HIGHLY. Wish I could write that good.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      March 7, 2011 11:07 pm

      As always, Duff, thanks for the recommendations. It seems like you and I read books the other knows nothing about. It’s a big world, with lots of books in it.

    • October 6, 2012 12:29 am

      Thanks, Duff, for the high recommendations and kind words on my memoirs, The Los Angeles Diaries and This River. Much appreciated.

  4. PJ Parrish permalink
    March 8, 2011 11:42 am

    I used to visit HuffPo, just as I used to tune into cable “news” shows. No more. It’s all white noise, and once New York Times and other newspapers die, there will be no content for these lampreys to subsist on.

    As for revisiting books, I find I am almost always disappointed. (like you, Chauncey, I tried “Of Human Bondage” but I couldn’t figure out what so enthralled me as a college kid.) And as you said, there is too much good stuff out there yet to discover.

    That said, I go back to favorite movies constantly. Watched “The Third Man” again this week…found new nuggets to appreciate, esp that long devastating tracking shot in the cemetary at the end. Wow.

    Sorry…that was changing the topic!

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      March 8, 2011 12:06 pm

      If you like The Third Man, then you must love Our Man in Havana, too. And both novels are among the best suspensers ever, well written, thrilling and very, very funny in that dry, British kind of way. Who cares what the topic is if it gets us to talking about Graham Greene and/or Carol Reed.

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