Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Month: August, 2013

538: Fatal Attraction by Patricia Fara


538: Fara, Patricia. Fatal Attraction: Magnetic Mysteries of the Enlightenment. New York: MJF Books, 2005. 196 pp. ISBN 1-8404-6632-4.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 530: Physics
  • 538: Magnetism

Patricia Fara’s Fatal Attraction covers the lives and work of Edmond Halley, Gowin Knight, and Franz Mesmer. Each contributed in significant ways to the world’s understanding of physics and magnetism. Enlightenment science was a bawdy, haphazard, and thrilling investigation into the world around them. You needed a fair amount of capital to buy equipment and run scientific experiments, so many of the first scientists were titled gentlemen. These folks paved the way for every scientist that came after them, and while some of their theories may have been a bit off the mark, they did what every scientist does: they asked a question of the universe and then set about trying to find the answer.

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823: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


823.8: Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest, 1987. 270 pp. ISBN 0-89577-277-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 820: British and Old English literatures
  • 823: British fiction
  • 823.8: 1837-1899

Sherlock Holmes is one of the many iconic figures in literature. So much so that he has migrated into movies and television as well. Appearing first in 1887, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle spent forty years crafting the persona of Holmes along with his trusty sidekick Dr. John Watson. The mysteries span four full-length novels and 56 short stories. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes covers 12 stories originally published in Strand magazine from July 1891 to June 1892.

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572: Brave Genius by Sean Carroll


572.8092: Carroll, Sean B. Brave Genius: A Scientist, a Philosopher, and their Daring Adventures from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize. New York: Crown. 576 pp. ISBN 978-0-3079-5233-2.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 570: Biology
  • 572: Biochemistry
  • 572.8: Biochemical genetics
  • +092: Biography

Two unlikely fellows became friends during World War II. One, a writer whose athletic career was sidelined by a nasty bout with tuberculosis, and the other, a scientist trying to figure his life out, got caught up in the war effort on the side of the French Resistance. Sean B. Carroll’s Brave Genius tells the tales of Jacques Monod  and Albert Camus from the perspective of the war. Each helped to defend their fellow countrymen without ever donning a military uniform. Luckily, they survived. Without them, the world would have a little less rich.

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428: Dimboxes, Epopts, and Other Quidams by David Grambs


428.1: Grambs, David. Dimboxes, Epopts, and Other Quidams: Words to Describe Life’s Indescribable People. New York: Workman Publishing, 1986. 181 pp. ISBN 0-89480-155-4.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 400: Language
  • 420: English and Old English
  • 428: Standard English usage and applied linguistics
  • 428.1: English language spellers

This is another one of those “look at this interesting list of archaic, rare, or foreign words for things” books. David Grambs’s Dimboxes, Epopts, and Other Quidams is a collection of terms of different types of people we meet in the course of our lives. This book got me thinking in that while you’ll forget a lot of these words while out in public, when you read the list, you’ll invariably call to mind people who fit the definitions provided. I’ll just spoil for you the definitions of the title terms (you’ll have to read the rest):

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636: The Medici Giraffe by Marina Belozerskaya


636: Belozerskaya, Marina. The Medici Giraffe and Other Tales of Exotic Animals and Power. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2006. 384 pp. ISBN 0-316-52565-0.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 600: Technology
  • 630: Agriculture and related technologies
  • 636: Animal husbandry

Human beings and the rest of the animal kingdom share an interesting and symbiotic relationship. People have shaped the history of animals and certain animals have shaped the history of humanity. Marina Belozerskaya’s The Medici Giraffe attempts to bring together seven stories of historic animals to show a timeline of important beasts. Starting with Ptolemy’s war elephants and ending with the historic agreement between the China and the U.S. on the gifting of two rare panda bears to the National Zoo, we see that people are drawn to the exotic. You won’t find simple tales of animal breeding and care here, but rather a portfolio of complicated relationships with the animal kingdom.

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003: Complexity and the Arrow of Time by Lineweaver, Davies, and Ruse


003: Lineweaver, Charles H., Paul C. W. Davies, and Michael Ruse, eds. Complexity and the Arrow of Time. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013. 351 pp. ISBN 978-1-107-02725-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 000: Computer Science, Knowledge, and General Works
  • 003: Systems

Everywhere you look there exists complexity. Nature, our lives, the universe, the environment, economics, politics, sociology—all of it is incredibly complex. But, can we talk about complexity? Is complexity too complex to discuss? It the risk of sounding like a metaphysical junkie, the answer to that is both simple and complex. Charles Lineweaver, along with Paul Davies and Michael Ruse, bring together some perspectives on the question (and maybe the answers) of complexity in Complexity and the Arrow of Time. Along the way, we get a series of answers from a cosmological, biological, and even a philosophical point of view.

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330: Tropic of Hopes by Henry Knight


330.9759: Knight, Henry. Tropic of Hopes: California, Florida, and the Selling of American Paradise, 1869-1929. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2013. 198 pp. ISBN 978-0-8130-4481-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 300: Social Sciences
  • 330: Economics
  • 330.9: History
  • +759: Florida

After the Civil War, the United States tried many different methods to re-unify its broken landscape and bolster the economy. While the gold rushes of the 1840s and 1850s helped to pull people to the hills of California, that particular strategy was wearing thin during the antebellum years. The completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 changed things, however. Folks could go from coast to coast in a matter of days, not weeks or months. Travels guides and boosterism became the main method for garnering interest in the two coastal states of California and Florida. Henry Knight’s Tropic of Hopes investigates the history and outcomes of the promotion of these two states.

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