Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 030s

032: Guinness World Records 2014


032: Guinness World Records 2014. New York: Bantam, 2014. 615 pp. ISBN 978-0-553-39055-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 000: Computer science, knowledge, and general works
  • 030: General encyclopedic works
  • 032: General encyclopedic works in English

I remember when I was a kid and first read the Guinness Book of World Records. Seeing pictures of the person with the world’s longest fingernails and the largest dog and the oldest person on Earth was astounding. Here catalogued was the extremity of humanity. Back then, there were very few “zany” categories, but now people seem destined to hold records in very niche areas. In the 2014 edition, there are records for the fastest assembly a seven-layer chicken bucket pyramid (35.72 seconds), fastest downing of 200 mL of mustard (20.8 seconds), and most Rubik’s cubes solved while running a marathon (100).

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039: Too Much to Know by Ann M. Blair


039.71094: Blair, Ann M. Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information Before the Modern Age. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010. 366 pp. ISBN 978-0-300-11251-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 000: Computer science, information, and general works
  • 030: Encyclopedias and books of facts
  • 039: General encyclopedic works in other languages
  • 039.71: General encyclopedia works in Latin
  • +094: Europe

Today, the world doesn’t think too much on how information is stored for the future. We have encyclopedias and web depositories and information on every smartphone around the world for those who need info on a moment’s notice. A thousand year ago, getting and storing information was a much different task. Manuscript after manuscript had to be consulted, minute information gleaned from faraway sources to create each new volume. While it’s generally agreed upon that there were more books around than previously thought, information was still a rare thing. In the two centuries before the invention of the printing press, there was a interesting rush of activity in trying to pull together the world’s knowledge into a single source. Ann Blair’s Too Much to Know brings to light many of the historical efforts to manage information before the invention of the Internet.

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031: Mental Floss’s Forbidden Knowledge

031: Pearson, Will, Mangesh Hattikudur, & Elizabeth Hunt, eds. mental_floss presents Forbidden Knowledge: A Wickedly Smart Guide to History’s Naughtiest Bits. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. 294 pp. ISBN 0-06-078475-X.

Dewey Construction:

  • 000: Computer Science, Knowledge, and General Works
  • 030: Encyclopedias and books of facts
  • 031: General encyclopedic works in American English

There’s one at every get together—some guy or gal who can tell you exactly how Catherine the Great died, can rattle off obscure Polynesian gods, or (right when you’re giving a toast) explain the origins of toasting. I like that person because they’ve devoted the time and energy into reading the source material, committing it to memory, and painlessly transmitting to me. Sometimes, I’m that person. After reading all the books I have, there’s a lot of arcane facts rolling around my head. But today, the good folks from mental_floss have done our work for us.

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