Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 640s

640: Pigs in Clover by Simon Dawson


640.92: Dawson, Simon. Pigs in Clover: Or How I Accidentally Fell in Love with the Good Life. London: Watkins Publishing, 2013. 329 pp. ISBN 978-1-78028-501-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 600: Technology
  • 640: Home economics and family living
  • +.092: Biography

One drunken New Year’s Eve, Simon Dawson was tricked into an agreement. He didn’t know what it was until his morning hangover. He had agreed with his wife to sell everything they owned in London, move to Exmoor (in Devonshire) and start a farm. He was not amused, but decided to go along with it because his wife was very unhappy with her job as a city solicitor. As a real estate agent, Simon was pretty well set and happy in London. But away they went—just to try it out for a while. That was 11 years ago, and Dawson’s Pigs in Clover is a wonderful book about the journey.

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647: Life at the Marmont by Raymond Sarlot and Fred Basten


647.9279494: Sarlot, Raymond and Fred E. Basten. Life at the Marmont: The Inside Story of Hollywood’s Legendary Hotel of the Stars—Chateau Marmont. New York: Penguin, 2013 [1987]. 328 pp. ISBN 978-0-14-312311-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 600: Technology
  • 640: Home and family management
  • 647: Management of public households (Institutional housekeeping)
  • 647.9: Specific kinds of public households and institutions
  • 647.92: Dwellings for long-term residents
  • +79494: Los Angeles

In Life at the Marmont, Raymond Sarlot and Fred E. Basten gives us a dazzling array of Hollywood stories, city history, and film trivia. The Chateau Marmont was conceived as a home away from home for the Hollywood elite, a place to establish a residence where you wanted to escape the film lots. Marmont was built as one of Los Angeles’s first earthquake-proof buildings. This, as well as its signature posh look, attracted a full range of famous clientele. It served as the playground for the likes of Hedy Lamarr, Clark Gable, Ernest Borgnine, Dorothy Parker, Jean Harlow, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and many more.

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641: The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten


641.0130207: Steingarten, Jeffrey. The Man Who Ate Everything. New York: Vintage, 1998. 494 pp. ISBN 0-679-43088-1.

Dewey Construction:

  • 600: Technology
  • 640: Home economics and family living
  • 641: Food and drink
  • 641.013: Gastronomy
  • +0207: Miscellany – humorous treatment

If you watch Iron Chef America with any regularity you will instantly recognize the name Jeffrey Steingarten. He’s the rotund, irascible, playful, and mildly antagonistic judge who loves to make the Iron Chefs squirm a bit. In 1989, he decided to leave the legal profession after being offered a job at Vogue as a food writer. In this new world, he found a lot to investigate.

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643: At Home by Bill Bryson

643.1: Bryson, Bill. At Home: A Short History of Private Life. New York: Anchor, 2011. 532 pp. ISBN 978-0-7679-1939-5.

The 640s is the division for home economics and family living, or put better, the home for homes. There’s even a special section for housing and household equipment—643. 643.1is the subsection for works broadly covering the home, but there’s a subsection for works just about kitchens (643.3) or about bathrooms (643.52), so if one were inclined, you could get very specific very fast.

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646: The Best Time to Do Everything by Michael Kaplan

646.7: Kaplan, Michael. The Best Time to Do Everything: Expert Advice on How to Live Cooler, Smarter, Faster, Better. New York: Bloomsbury, 2005. 170 pp. ISBN 1-58234-487-6.

A hundred years ago, much like today, there were myriad books on improving oneself. Books could teach you to be healthier, smarter, handsomer. You name it, there was a book on it, including one on better bowling through self-hypnosis (written in 1961 by Jack Heise) and how to plump yourself up (How to Get Fat by Edward Smith, 1865). So, it stands to reason that there would be an entire Dewey section devoted to it. There’s no real place for it in the main classes, so it’s stuck in technology (600s), home and family management (640s), then sewing, clothing, management of personal and family life (646).

If you’ve ever wondered when the time was to buy a car, when to stage a political coup, or when to reveal a fetish to your lover, then Michael Kaplan is your man. In The Best Time to Do Everything, he interviews subject matter experts in a dizzying array of fields to find out when the perfect timing is for life’s interesting events. Some are more funny than informative, but they will get you thinking about the proper timing of life. Here are some of my favorites:

  • When to haggle: When you’re absolutely willing to walk away.
  • When to go to the doctor: First thing in the morning.
  • When to retain information: College students, in the afternoon; older adult, in the morning.
  • When to get married: The Saturday after Thanksgiving.
  • When to be conservative: When liberals are in power.
  • When to be liberal: When conservatives are in power.

It reads like a bathroom reader, but you can still power through large sections easily. It’s a short book, so I blew through it less than a day. And now, with these helpful suggestions, I’ll have even more time on my hands…