Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Month: May, 2012

Unassigned: An Honorary Mention

When I started this quest, I thought that maybe a few wayward souls who were looking for out of the ordinary book suggestions might stop by and see what I found in the dark corners of the Dewey Decimal System, but I wasn’t really expecting any awards or adulation. So, it comes as a wonderful surprise to see that blogger rthepotter of Minutiae has nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award. It seems as if at least one person out there is in it for the long haul (by the way, the current projected completion date is October 2018).

Thank you–it was a great way to end a stressful couple of weeks.

Now, these things have rules—and here they are:

The rules of The Versatile Blogger Award are:

If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded The Versatile Blogger award.

  •  Thank the person who gave you this award.
  •  Include a link to their blog.
  •  Next, select up to 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  •  Nominate those bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

To be honest, I don’t read a lot of other blogs, and even fewer on books. I’m more of a nonfiction fan, and almost all of the blogs I’ve passed by are about the latest fiction offering. But, without further ado, here are my nominations:

I know it’s a weak list, but that’s all I can get to with my quasi-busy life.

Now, for the seven things…I’ve decided to pick seven titles from my (ever-growing) library and hope that they reveal a little something about me (in alphabetical order):

  1. The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman (DDC 818)
  2. Bizarre Books by Russell Ash and Brian Blake (DDC 016)
  3. Born to Kvetch by Michael Wex (DDC 439)
  4. Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All by Christina Thompson (DDC 993)
  5. Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman (DDC 781)
  6. Off the Deep End by W. Hodding Carter (DDC 797)
  7. The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larson (DDC 813)

In order to feel like I’ve earned this nomination, I have a special treat for my small band of followers: three reviews in three days. I’ve been a bit backed up because of personal commitments and vacations, but now things are calmed down enough to get back on track. If my current book goes well, I might make it 4-for-4 (but no promises, though).

384: The Phone Book by Ammon Shea

384.6025: Shea, Ammon. The Phone Book: The Curious History of the Book That Everyone Uses But No One Reads. New York: Perigee, 2010. 200 pp. ISBN 978-0-399-53593-2.

The social sciences (300s) explore all the areas that cannot be distilled and quantifies by the hard sciences. One of these areas is how people transport things. This transportation includes not only manufactured goods, but also ideas and messages. The 380s in Dewey are devoted to commerce, communications, and transport. Telecommunication falls nicely under 384. 384.6 is for books on telephony, and 384.6025 is the special place where works on telephone directories go.

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870: Roman Classics by Mary E. Snodgrass

870.9001: Snodgrass, Mary Ellen. Roman Classics: Notes. Lincoln, NE: Cliffs Notes, Inc., 1988. 334 pp. ISBN 0-8220-1152-2.

Back in Dewey’s day, the classics were king. Every person of higher learning was expected to know the plays of Plautus and Juvenal’s satires. Politicians regularly pilfered from Cicero’s speeches. For this reason (and probably many more), the literatures of ancient Greece and Rome get their own divisions. Roman literature occupies the 870s, and books that combine many types and eras of Roman literature (general works and anthologies) float right to the top—870.

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111: The Infinite Book by John D. Barrow

111.6: Barrow, John D. The Infinite Book: A Short Guide to the Boundless, Timeless and Endless. New York: Pantheon, 2005. 274 pp. ISBN 0-375-42227-7.

When you start reading about philosophy (100s), you have to start with the basics. Philosophy is study of general and fundamental problems, including existence, knowledge, language, and morality. But, before you talk about these things, you have to talk about what “things” are (and also what “talking” is), which is metaphysics. You also have to define what “is” is—this is the study of being, or ontology. One of the many fundamental questions of ontology is that of infinity; can you begin to discuss the idea of an infinite quantity?

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210: God and the Reach of Reason by Erik Wielenberg

210.92241: Wielenberg, Erik J. God and the Reach of Reason: C. S. Lewis, David Hume, and Bertrand Russell. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008. 202 pp. ISBN 978-0-521-70710-7.

When you start thinking about something as heady and partisan as religion, sometimes it helps to take a step back, pare down the arguments, and go fundamental. Luckily, Dewey has a division for that: the 210s, the place for books on natural theology. Natural theology is the branch of theology (the study of God) based on ordinary reason and experience. The first section of the 210s is 210 (of course) and that’s the place for the philosophy and theory of religion. So, here we go.

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792: The Shakespeare Riots by Nigel Cliff

792.09747109034: Cliff, Nigel. The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama, and Death in Nineteenth-Century America. New York: Random House, 2007. 266 pp. ISBN 978-0-345-48694-3.

At the end of the 700s (Arts), we had the 790s for works on the recreational and performing arts. 792 is the place for books on stage presentations. This book gets a very specific call numbers because it focuses on a single event in a single place (all centered around a stage presentation). The -097471 is for an event in the Borough of Manhattan and the -09034 is for the 19th century.

In the 1840s, there were two big names in Shakespearean acting. William Charles Macready was a British stage actor was revolutionized the Bard’s public perception by returning the script back to his original writing. Edwin Forrest, thirteen years Macready’s junior, was a Philadelphia-born barrel-chested dramatic wunderkind who took America by storm with his stage presence.

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402: The Toils of Language by Noah J. Jacobs

402: Jacobs, Noah Jonathan. The Toils of Language. New York: New Amsterdam Books, 1990. 140 pp. ISBN 0-941533-47-6.

It’s not that hard to write a book that goes into Dewey section 402 (Language—Miscellany). All you have to do is write about various trivial topics concerning two or more languages. As long as you include some bits on usage, etymological inquiries, and historical philosophy, you’re all set. Now, whether anyone will want to read it, that’s another story altogether.

Noah Jacobs’s Toils of Language is literally an “all of the above” melting pot of linguistic ideas. So much so, that I only have a hint of what he was talking about. There are connections between animal names and the Hebrew Bible, a chapter on the male-ness of the English language, and an essay on whether the existence of women has helped or hindered the evolution of language as a whole. And that’s just the beginning.

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