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State of the Arts: The Library's Culture Manager Shares Popular Picks in 2018

Robert Ethington
Mark Arehart
Robert Ethington walks us through Akron's top media picks in 2018.

If you’re looking for some tips on something new to watch, read, or listen to, look no further than the library.


In this week’s State of the Arts, WKSU’s Mark Arehart sat down with Robert Ethington, manager of the culture and audio visual department at the main branch of the Akron-Summit County Public Library. They talked about the most popular picks of 2018 from the library’s collection.


Checking the library's circulation numbers, Ethington found the number one most checked out book in 2018 was Lisa Wingate's "Before We Were Yours." It's a novel about children sold into labor in the 1930s.

Number two is a thriller by A.J. Finn, called "The Woman In The Window." Perennially popular John Grisham came in at number three with his latest, "The Rooster Bar."


Non-fiction favorite

"Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," Michael Wolff’s controversial memoir of President Trump’s first nine months in office, came in at number one on the nonfiction charts.

picture of book
Credit Mark Arehart / WKSU
John Grisham's "The Rooster Bar" was a popular favorite.

Akronites who prefer movies checked out "Wonder Woman" more than two thousand times this year, followed in popularity by "Black Panther" and "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle."

“In general, when you look down this list, it looks like the list of what you would see at the multiplexes in the area," Ethington said.

The soundtrack to "Hamilton" remains a strong favorite, holding the number one spot among checked out audio recordings, even though it came out a few years ago.

“I’m guessing that might be because it came to Cleveland," Ethington noted. "And I’m thinking that maybe a lot of people checked it out so they could re-acquaint themselves with the score before they went to go see it.”


Ethington said some end-of-year numbers surprised him more than others.


“A lot of the things that checked out on CD, the next four or five most circulated items, were all collections of music,” Ethington said. “It kind of surprised me that those are that popular, but the music industry has become much more singles-oriented.”

Popular locally
Books by local authors circulated the area too this year. "Furnishing Eternity" by David Giffels was a hit. “This book is very funny, and a poignant memoir of an odd project that he decided to do with his father, which is basically make his coffin,” Ethington said.

A notable novel is about the city of Barberton’s special fried chicken, by Ronald Koltnow.


Whatever you check out, Ethington welcomes the public back to the library.

“I see probably a continuing pattern of what you had in 2018. In general, I would say our patrons, our customers are reading and buying and listening and watching the same things that people who go to the movies or go to concerts or go to bookstores are buying. The good thing here is you don’t have to spend a dime. It’s free - as long as you bring it back on time.”

Mark Arehart joined the award-winning WKSU news team as its arts/culture reporter in 2017. Before coming to Northeast Ohio, Arehart hosted Morning Edition and covered the arts scene for Delaware Public Media. He previously worked for KNKX in Seattle, Kansas Public Radio, and KYUK in Bethel, Alaska.