Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 690s

692: Hiring Contractors Without Going Through Hell by Ellis Levinson


692.8: Levinson, Ellis. Hiring Contractors Without Going Through Hell: How to Find, Hire, Supervise, and Pay professional Help for Home Renovations and Repairs. New York: Walker & Company, 1992. ISBN 0-8027-7381-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 600: Technology
  • 690: Buildings
  • 692: Auxiliary construction practices
  • 692.8: Contracting

When you’re a homeowner, there are few things more daunting than the prospect of remodeling or house repairs. You can either go it yourself and invest a lot of time in YouTube videos and gumption, or you can rely on the services of contractors. Ellis Levinson’s Hiring Contractors Without Going Through Hell deals with the reality, and sometimes the surreality, of dealing with the latter situation. He uses humor and sometimes a fatherly hand to help guide the reader through a bevy of contractor-related scenarios.

Read the rest of this entry »


690: Collapse by Phillip Wearne


690. Wearne, Phillip. Collapse: When Buildings Fall Down. New York: TV Books, 2000. 244 pp. ISBN 1-57500-144-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 600: Technology
  • 690: Buildings

Buildings are supposed to stand forever. It’s a pretty simple assumption. You build something, and it should stay there. Rarely are things so simple in life, however. Phillip Wearne’s Collapse catalogs eleven of the worst structural engineering failures of the past century and show how simple human miscalculation, incompetence, and even greed led to their downfall. From the Hartford Coliseum roof collapse to the 1981 Hyatt Regency walkway collapse to the crippling bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Wearne’s detailed analysis of each failure helps those thinking about getting into the field of engineering. Each fall prevents the next (we hope). The writing here is dutiful and mildly interesting. Wearne takes official reports into account along with eyewitness interviews in an effort to paint a complete picture of each event. While the book’s design and cover look like something from a B-movie, Wearne takes his subject matter very seriously and it shows. All in all, it was a perfectly competent book.

696: Flushed by W. Hodding Carter

696.109: Carter, W. Hodding. Flushed: How the Plumber Saved Civilization. New York: Atria, 2007. 238 pp. ISBN 978-0-7434-7409-2.

Try to imagine the universe of books written about utilities (or just plumbing). It’s a pretty small universe. Most of these works are study manuals for HVAC trainees and guides for DIY home pipe-fitters. But, the Dewey in its infinite wisdom gives utilities its own section—696. Appropriately, it’s in the 600s (applied science, otherwise known as technology), then the 690s (Buildings). After reading this book, however, perhaps utilities deserve a little more recognition.


After spending a week trying to fix the plumbing in his crawl-space basement, W. Hodding Carter (known as “Hodding” to his friends, apparently) gets hypnotized by the beauty of plumbing. So, he embarks on a quest to find out all there is to know about plumbing.

Read the rest of this entry »