In In the Midst of Alarms (1894) by Robert Barr, a man was talking about the library of a Canadian rural township:
“Well, the township can select the books if it likes, or it can send a committee to select them; but they didn’t think it worth the trouble and expense. People grumbled enough at wasting money on books as it was, even if they did buy them at half price. Still, others said it was a pity not to get the money out of the Government when they had the chance. I don’t believe any of them cared very much about the books, except father and a few others. So the Government chose the books. They’ll do that if you leave it to them. And a queer lot of trash they sent, if you take my word for it. I believe they shoved off on us all the things no one else would buy. Even when they did pick out novels, they were just as tough as the history books. ‘Adam Bede’ is one. They say that’s a novel. I tried it, but I would rather read the history of Josephus any day. There’s some fighting in that, if it is a history. Then there’s any amount of biography books. They’re no good.
I can't get the meaning of this whole statement.