Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Month: June, 2013

581: The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart


581.632: Stewart, Amy. The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World’s Great Drinks. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2013. 355 pp. ISBN 978-1-61620-046-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 580: Plants
  • 581: Specific topics in the natural history of plants
  • 581.6: Miscellaneous nontaxonomic kinds of plants
  • 581.63: Beneficial plants
  • 581.632: Edible plants

In almost everything you drink, a plant is involved—especially the tasty, alcoholic kinds of drinks. Gin? Comes from juniper and sometimes contains bay leaves. Midas Touch beer? Saffron is involved, as well as Muscat and barley. Kahlua gets some of its flavor from vanilla flowers. Plants dominate the alcohol-making process. Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist lists every plant, flower, tree, herb, spice, fruit, and nut involved in almost any liquor imaginable.

Read the rest of this entry »

400: Verbatim by Erin McKean


400: McKean, Erin, ed. Verbatim: From the Bawdy to the Sublime, the Best Writing on Language for Word Lovers, Grammar Mavens, and Armchair Linguists. San Diego: Harcourt, 2001. 348 pp. ISBN 0-15-601209-X.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 400: Language

Erin McKean’s collection of articles and essays from Verbatim is a fun expedition into linguistics and language history. McKean brings together writings from the periodical’s 37-year history. There’s almost too much here to do it justice. In the 56 presented essays, writers bounce ideas, trade barbs, and peel away the layers of words and ideas. Here’s some fun bits from this collection:

Read the rest of this entry »

232: Zealot by Reza Aslan


232: Aslan, Reza. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. New York: Random House, 2013. 336 pp. ISBN 978-1-4000-6922-4.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 230: Christian theology
  • 232: Jesus Christ and his family (Christology)

There is a curious line in Josephus’ The Antiquities of the Jews. It reads: “…so he [Ananus, high priest of Judea] assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others…” This is one of the few non-Biblical passages that give credence to the existence of an historical Jesus, and indeed, most historians are on board with the existence of a person named Jesus who lived and preached to Jews in Galilee and Judea. But what else can be gleaned from the historical record? And does this information change the way historians should view the life of Jesus? Reza Aslan’s believes so, and traces the life, teachings, and even his political agenda in Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Read the rest of this entry »

116: The Emergence of Everything by Harold Morowitz


116: Morowitz, Harold J. The Emergence of Everything: How the World Became Complex. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. 200 pp. ISBN 0-19-517331-7.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 110: Metaphysics
  • 116: Change

As soon as human beings became self-aware, they became universe-aware as well. While we seek to understand our place and our origins as individuals, we also have a need to explain the origin of all life and the universe as a whole. These are not easy questions, as they involves elements of many field of science and philosophy. Harold Morowitz, in The Emergence of Everything, lays out a fundamental structure for getting to the root of some of these questions by peering into the fields of cosmology, biology, physics, chemistry, and ultimately, theology.

Read the rest of this entry »

565: Trilobite by Richard Fortey


565.39: Fortey, Richard. Trilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution. New York: Knopf, 2000. 265 pp. ISBN 0-375-40625-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 560: Paleontology and paleozoology
  • 565: Fossil Arthropoda
  • 565.3: Crustaceans and Trilobita
  • 565.39: Trilobita


Hundreds of millions of years ago, a special creature traveled through the world’s oceans. Covered in an calcite chitin exoskeleton, they were first discovered by Reverend Edward Lhwyd in 1698, and from there the fascination grew. To date, some 17,000 species have been described. Sadly, though, there are no extant species of trilobite and we only have the fossil record to go by. The closest we have is the horseshoe crab. Richard Fortey’s Trilobite takes us through the history, taxonomy, and science of the wondrous trilobite.

Read the rest of this entry »

398: The Rotinonshonni by Brian Rice


398.20899755: Rice, Brian. The Rotinonshonni: A Traditional Iroquoian History Through the Eyes of Teharonhia:wako and Sawiskera. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2013. 310 pp. ISBN 978-0-8156-1021-2.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 300: Social Sciences
  • 390: Customs, etiquette, and folklore
  • 398: Folklore
  • 398.2: Folk literature
  • 398.208: Groups of people
  • 398.2089: Ethnic and national groups
  • 398.208997: Indians of North America
  • 398.20899755: Iroquois Indians

The Iroquois, or “the People of the Longhouse” and comprise the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Tuscarora nations. In Canada, they live near Brantford, Ontario and are known as the Rotinonshonni. Brian Rice’s The Rotinonshonni  is a vast undertaking—to collect, understand, and translate the complete folklore of a people and preserve it for the ages. As a member of Mohawk nation, he has spent the last fifteen years traveling to their historic sites, listening to elders tell the Creation Story and the Kayeneren:howa (“The Great Way of Peace”), the days-long recitation of the history of the Rotinonshonni.

Read the rest of this entry »

623: Airship by John Swinfield


623.74309041: Swinfield, John. Airship: Design, Development, and Disaster. London: Conway Maritime, 2012. 352 pp. ISBN 978-1-8448-6138-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 600: Technology
  • 620: Engineering
  • 623: Military and nautical engineering
  • 623.7: Communications, vehicles, sanitations and related topics
  • 623.74: Vehicles
  • 623.743: Airships (dirigibles)
  • +09041: Early 20th Century

John Swinfield’s Airship is a wonderful exploration of the history of airships, dirigibles, and zeppelins as they were beginning to become a fixture in history. While there is a large gray area between when a flying vessel goes from a hot-air balloon to an airship, the qualifying characteristic seems to be the inclusion of an engine to power propellers and guide the vehicle properly. William Bland’s 1851 flight with a steam engine and twin propellers fits the bill. And from there, things only got bigger and more dangerous.

Read the rest of this entry »