Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Month: August, 2014

790: Mongo by Ted Botha


790.132: Botha, Ted. Mongo: Adventures in Trash. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2004. 242 pp. ISBN 1-58234-567-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts and Recreation
  • 790: Recreational and performing arts
  • 790.1: General kinds of recreational activities
  • 790.13: Activities generally engaged in by individuals
  • 790.132: Collecting

If you’ve ever seen an object on the side of the road or fished something from a dumpster or a trash pile, then you’ve engaged in mongo. In the traditional sense, mongo is any object that been discarded but now retrieved. Mongo can either be for profit or pleasure (or sometimes both). Mongo culture comes with many different subdivisions: people mongo for food, books, furniture, car parts, antiques, or just for decoration. For some, mongo is their only way of surviving, and for others, it’s a side project. Ted Botha’s Mongo is look into this often-invisible subculture.

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660: Shrinking the Cat by Sue Hubbell


660.65: Hubbell, Sue. Shrinking the Cat: Genetic Engineering Before We Knew About Genes. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2001. 160 pp. ISBN 0-618-04027-7.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 600: Technology
  • 660: Chemical engineering and related technologies
  • 660.6: Biotechnology
  • 660.65: Genetic engineering

Every living thing on the planet has been genetically modified. Each generation forces changes on the next. Most of the time, this modification is natural and inevitable, but sometimes a helping hand intervenes. Ever since humans learned how to grow food, they have been selectively breeding crops that begat more and more resources. In Shrinking the Cat, Sue Hubbell looks at the history of genetic engineering through four species—the corn plant, the silkworm, the cat, and the apple—to get a better sense of the ethics and benefits of human tinkering.

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229: Reading Judas by Pagels and King


229.8: Pagels, Elaine and Karen L. King. Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity. New York: Viking Penguin, 2007. 165 pp. ISBN 0-6700-3845-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 220: The Bible
  • 229: Apocrypha, pseudepigrapha, and other intertestamental works
  • 229.8: Pseudo gospels

In Christian history, Jesus Christ gathered twelve people to his side to be his apostles and spread his beliefs throughout the world. According to The Bible, Judas Iscariot accepts payment of thirty silver coins from the Sanhedrin priests and agrees to point out Jesus to the local authorities so that he can be captured and tried for purporting to be the Son of God. Judas’s betrayal results in the trial, crucifixion, and resurrection as depicted later in the Gospels. The traditional telling of this matter is done by the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—, but what if Judas himself got a say in the matter? In the 1970s, a papyrus codex was discovered near Beni Masah, Egypt which appears to be from Judas’s point of view. In Reading Judas, Elaine Pagels and Karen King tackle the new text to see if it can shed new light on old mythology.

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587: Oaxaca Journal by Oliver Sacks

587.097274: Sacks, Oliver. Oaxaca Journal. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2002. 159 pp. ISBN 0-7922-6521-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 580: Botany
  • 587: Pteridophyta
  • +097274: North America—Mexico—Oaxaca


First of all, this book is about ferns. It’s about people from all walks of life, all educational backgrounds, and all nationalities who love ferns. Oliver Sacks, noted neuroscientist and author, counts himself among their number. He is a legitimate card-carrying member of the American Fern Society. Ferns don’t get a lot of love from supposed plant lovers and botanists. They belong to the plant group Pteridophyta, reproduce by spores, and don’t have flowers. But Sacks loves them all. Some time back, he got to go on a “fern foray” to Oaxaca, Mexico with some fellow enthusiasts from the AFS. Oaxaca Journal takes us with him.

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317: Datapedia of the United States, edited by George Kurian


317.3: Kurian, George Thomas, Ed. Datapedia of the United States, 1790-2005: America Year By Year. Lanham, MD: Bernan Press, 2001. 557 pp. ISBN 0-89059-256-X.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 300: Social Sciences
  • 310: Statistics
  • 317: General statistics of North America
  • 317.3: General statistics of United States

If there’s anything that’s sure to flock readers to your book, it’s five hundred pages of data tables. George Kurian’s Datapedia of the United States is a monumental undertaking. He has curated data from hundreds of sources and collated them into different tables and graphs to show how the United States has changed statistically over the past 215 years. He organizes this information into 25 different major groups, ranging from general stats to agriculture to manufacturing to government. If there’s a statistic you’re looking for, it’s probably in here. Each section starts off with an array of interesting factoids, and then he dives headfirst into the data. Here’s just a sample:

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409: Philology by James Turner


409: Turner, James. Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014. 386 pp. ISBN 978-0-691-14564-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 400: Language
  • 409: Historical, geographical, or personal treatment of language

In Philology, James Turner makes a fun and rather interesting assertion: all studies in the humanities lead back to philology, the study of languages and their history. In order to engage in the studia humanitatis, you need history. In order to read history in its proper context, you have to read it in its original language. For that you need an understanding of languages, their structure and their history, hence philology. To understand art and architecture requires context, and the urge to understand it as its contemporaries did. This requires chronicles, journals, letters, and yes, philology. Turner traces the grand study of philology through history to show its roots and how it can be again reborn as a proper tool for understanding both our current circumstances and our collective history.

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541: The Periodic Kingdom by P.W. Atkins


541.24: Atkins, P. W. The Periodic Kingdom: A Journey into the Land of the Chemical Elements. New York: Basic Books, 1995. 149 pp. ISBN 0-465-07266-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 540: Chemistry
  • 541: Physical chemistry
  • 541.2: Theoretical chemistry
  • 541.24: Atomic structure

I’ve yet to read a book on science that was one giant metaphor. Normally, authors want to just educate the reader on a concept, flesh it out with rich histories and context, and then move on to the next thing. P.W. Atkins’s The Periodic Kingdom is a completely different beast altogether. He imagines the periodic table, on display in classrooms and science labs around the world, as a geographic map. The eastern borders house the nobility and the western shores are home to the most explosive elements. In between are the Metallic Desert, the southern island (transuranic elements), and the Eastern Rectangle (gaseous elements). And Atkins takes it upon himself to be the tour guide of this strange but rather organized kingdom.

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