This Dewey post is breaking allllll the rules by showing up on the first Tuesday of the month instead of the last Tuesday of the previous. Imagine this post in a leather jacket and riding a motorcycle, because it’s bad to the bone.
(I just really wanted to keep those travel-themed posts together, because splitting them up felt wrong.)
Anyway, after ten awesomely educational months of nonfiction reading, we’re now in the final section of the Dewey Decimal system! (But not the final post of this series… Will explain at the end.) The 900s are all about history, and my pick to read was Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero, by Michael Hingson, DD# 974.71044. Since this was a personal account more than academic, my post will not list factoids but instead summarize Hingson’s experience of escaping the Twin Towers during the harrowing attacks of 9/11.
In case you ever got the ridiculous impression that I am suave, let me clear that right up for you with a story.
In either 2007 or 08, I went to a live reading by David Sedaris. Perhaps you know him? Writes hilarious personal essays, often appears on the radio show This American Life, does an uncanny impression of Billie Holliday… Anyway, I first became a fan around 2003 when I read Me Talk Pretty One Day, and have giggled over several of his books since.
Naturally, I was excited to hear him read at Royce Hall in Los Angeles. I got to the theatre way too early and ended up milling around outside for a while. It was pretty empty – one of the few others there was this man wandering around by himself, eating a sandwich. There was something peculiar about him, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Maybe it was the flagrancy of his sandwich-eating. Like who does he think he is, right? Just eating a sandwich, like, right there? Doesn’t he know he’s about to see a David Sedaris reading?
I’m fuzzy on the details, probably because I blew up in a cloud of awkwardness, but what happened next was the man finished his meal, went around chatting to people who were now arriving, eventually made it to me and the person I came with, talked with us while I was like “why is this stranger talking to us, what’s his deal,” and then finally introduced himself as…
… David Sedaris.
This month’s section for my Dewey Decimal Discovery project is all about my greatest love… The world’s most heaven-sent pursuit… The core of my life’s endeavors– Nay! My life itself… ! (You’ll understand why I’m being so ~theatrical~ in a minute…)
…… The arts!
(The 700s also include sports, but as any American school budget can attest, arts and sports are at WAR and I will not dignify those sweaty ball-throwers with an inclusion.)
((Kidding! I’m not opposed to athletics, I’m just being dramatic [pun!] because a good ol’ fashioned butting-of-heads makes for livelier blogging.))
(((Or should I say PUTTING-of-heads! Get it? Golf? Golf’s a sport? Kind of?)))
((((Okay enough parentheses.))))
I’m deeply attached to relics from my childhood. A ragged teddy bear with a lost leg, looking like it just got back from war. A bathrobe with embroidered stars and way-too-short sleeves for my now-adult arms. A ballerina music box that got damaged in a move, the dancer now bent sideways, musicless.
Those relics I kept a long time, and I still have many others, but eventually space demanded that I sever a few mementos. It was painful throwing them away. Like I was throwing away pieces of my life. All the years of owning them had imbued them with memory and feeling, and to see them in the garbage or give-away box hurt my heart.
This experience is common; many people can relate. Now imagine having that same depth of attachment towards every object in your home. Bubblegum wrappers. Broken appliances. Newspapers. Imagine if tossing an old take-out menu filled you with the same loss as tossing your teddy bear.
That’s how the people feel in Randy Frost’s and Gail Steketee’s compassionate book, “Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things,” DD# 616.85227 – this month’s Dewey Decimal Discovery pick from the section on health.
I don’t know about your pets, but my dog lives a rich and varied emotional life. Such feelings include:
- Joy from gnawing on her favorite bone.
- Mega joy from having her head patted.
- Ultra mega joy from eating food.
- And SUPERSONIC ULTRA MEGA JOY(!!) from going for a walk.
See? Rich and varied.
Perhaps it comes with being a writer, but I’m a big fan of language. Learning a new word gives my brain a little hopskip of happy. Give me your nouns, your adjectives! Your portmanteaus, your puns! I want them all!
So I was glad to see that section 400 in my Dewey Decimal Discovery Project would be alllll about language. One of my most favorite things in the world (allow me to slip on my nerd hat – ahh, there) is unexpectedly discovering how one word relates to another word. Like, there’s a word you’ve barely thought about before, and suddenly you notice its obscure prefix is the same as another seemingly irrelevant term and OH MY CHOMSKY THOSE WORDS ARE LONG-LOST SIBLINGS AAAHHH. 😀
That is why, for this month’s nonfiction read, I chose Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do with Pigs, by Katherine Barber, DD# 422 – a collection of
various assorted SUNDRY (oooh yeah that’s a good one) word origins. Here were the most fascinating:
Ahh, April. The month for blooming daffodils, refreshing rains, chirping sparrows, and…
Oh, is that not… Is spring not the time for reading about bloodthirsty kill sprees? That’s more of Halloween’s forte? Welp, too bad, because April was section 300 in my Dewey Decimal Discovery project, a section which houses the – dun dun dunnn – true crime!
Oh my Ganesha! Is it time for another one of these already?
March brings us to the 200’s in my Dewey Decimal Discovery Project, the section ~devoted~ to religion and mythology. (Did you catch my pun there?) While not a religious person myself, I do have an interest in folklore, so I decided to read Josepha Sherman’s “Mythology for Storytellers: Themes and Tales From Around the World,” Dewey Decimal #201.3.
Here were my favorite fables ~
Last month, I introduced a fun little venture I’m doing called the Dewey Decimal Discovery project. If you missed that post, here’s what it is: I’ll be reading one nonfiction book per month from each of the Dewey Decimal categories. At the end of each month I’ll talk about all the great new info I’ve stuffed into my…
… What’s that called again? My headmush. No, my skulljunk. My greyspaghetti. Dang it, what’s that word?? RIGHT, my brain.
Speaking of brains! February was section 100, which includes one of my most beloved topics: psychology. This topic is my jam. Choosing just one was tough, but I decided on “Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain” by David Eagleman, Dewey Decimal #153. It’s about all the behind-the-scenes machinations our minds go through without our awareness.
Here are the things I found most interesting in this book:
Isn’t it such a thrill to happen upon an intriguing book by chance? Meandering down the library aisles, scanning titles from that sideways-head position, maybe trailing a finger along the spines… And then one pops at you. You pause, maybe utter a “hmm” under your breath. You pull it out, read the back summary. Oh yes. This is the one for you.
And you know what would make all that even better?