Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 580s

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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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.

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582: Florida Wildflowers by Walter K. Taylor


582.1309759: Taylor, Walter Kinglsey. Florida Wildflowers: A Comprehensive Guide. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 2013. 576 pp. ISBN 978-0-8130-4425-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Pure Science
  • 580: Plants (Botany)
  • 582: Plants noted for specific vegetative characteristics and flowers
  • 582.1: Herbaceous and woody plants, plants noted for their flowers
  • 582.13: Plants noted for their flowers
  • +09759: North America—United States—Florida

This is a simple book with a lot of information. For the first time in more than a decade, a single botanist has gathered photographs and detailed all the different species of wildflowers in the state of Florida. University of Central Florida biology professor Walter Kingsley Taylor offers, in his Florida Wildflowers, a useful guide to the Sunshine State’s flowering, native beauty.

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580: A Rum Affair by Karl Sabbagh

580.92: Sabbagh, Karl. A Rum Affair: A True Story Of Botanical Fraud. US: Da Capo Press, 2001. 263 pp. ISBN 0-306-81060-3.

Dewey Construction:

  • 500: Science
  • 580: Botany
  • +92: Biography

In 1948, John Raven had had enough. Discoveries from the Hebrides, and most notably the Isle of Rum (also spelled Rhum), by Professor John Heslop Harrison seems to be contrary to all known theories about the Ice Age and plant life in Britain. Harrison had discovered several species of sedge (or grass) on the islands that supported his unique theory that this particular plant life had survived the last Ice Age. It didn’t make any sense to Raven. So, he did what all passionate professors do: he secured a grant, traveled north, and sought to set the record straight.

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