Monday, October 22, 2007

Dewey or Don't 'ee?: The Promised Longer Post

I have mixed feelings about the Dewey Decimal System. I think it’s okay as a cataloging system. I don’t feel cranky nor apologetic about its biases, but I recognize they exist. I don’t have it memorized, nor do I feel the need to do so. My theoretical joy at the exactness of an item’s Dewey number extending six or seven or eight decimals places to the right is tempered by the difficulty of having to visually sort through all those numerals at the shelf.

In spite of that, just from the frequency of wandering down to the stacks to pick up a book, there are some numbers that stick in my head. But even there, my mental labels are not necessarily the real Dewey labels:

004, 005—computer books, PCs and some software [official Dewey, Data processing & computer science, 005 Computer programming, programs & data](The Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system is a general knowledge organization tool that is continuously revised to keep pace with knowledge. The system was conceived by Melvil Dewey in 1873 and first published in 1876. The DDC is published by OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. OCLC owns all
copyright rights in the Dewey Decimal Classification, and licenses the system for a
variety of uses.)

200, 220, 290-99—religion (primarily Christian), Bible, Comparative religion [Religion, Bible, Other religions]

364.something—True crime [Criminology]
398.2—folk and fairy tales [Folklore]

423—Dictionaries [English dictionaries]
428—Learning English [English standard usage]
438—Learning German [German standard usage]
448—Learning French [French standard usage]
458—Learning Italian [Italian standard usage]
468—Learning Spanish [Spanish standard usage]

500s—Science [Science]

635—gardening [Garden crops]
635.9333—Roses [Roses]

636.7—Dogs [Animal Husbandry, Dogs]
636.8—Cats [Animal Husbandry, Cats]
641--Cooking [Food and Drink]
658—Management [General Management]

700—Arts [The Arts]
759—Historical artists [(Arts) Historical, geographic & persons treatment]

800--Various Literature, poetry, plays [Literature]

912--Atlases [Atlases, maps, charts & plans]
914-19--Travel [Geography and Travel, specific locations]

920--Biographies of groups [Biography, genealogy & insignia]
921--Biographies of individuals [Optional number]

930--Ancient History [History of the Ancient World]
940--European History [History of Europe]
970--American History [History of North America]
980--Latin American History [History of South America]

Admittedly, a very incomplete knowledge in my head. But I can find the others.

A couple days ago, a patron came in and said, "I found this book in your catalog and wrote down the number, but I guess I didn't get enough of it, because when I went there, I couldn't find the book. It's about Caribbean culture." She showed me here paper: Caribbean 641.5

I went back to the catalog with her and started to type in "Caribbean Cookery."

"No," she said, I don't want a Caribbean cookbook. I did a keyword search for Caribbean and about seven thousand titles showed up and I was going through them. At about page four I found one that caught my eye. It was about Caribbean culture."

"But 641 would be a cookbook...," I said.

"No, it wasn't a cookbook. I just searched on Caribbean."

"Okay, well, I'll try this." Then I keyword searched Caribbean and limited it to just books we own in the building. Seventy-nine titles claimed to be in the list.

"Oh, that's a lot better than seven thousand," she said. "I can find it from here."

So I went back to the desk.

Ten minutes later:

"It was a cookbook after all. But it had pictures and talked about the culture. Thank you," she said.

Even when I know what I know,
I can let it go
If a patron tells me so.

I have a longer post, but first, this Quiz result!

Thanks to a colleague for the quiz location. I parodied the cover from a book on Amazon.

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Monday, October 15, 2007

Re reading the Greats, and not.

Nearly everyone has something they learned or thought wrong as a child that they later discovered was mistaken. One of the things I had mistaken included the idea that boys and girls had different left and right arms. (When my mom was teaching me left from right, she'd be facing me, and we'd have opposite right arms and left arms. She never realized I didn't get it. Imagine my surprise when I got to 1st grade and saw while saying "The Pledge" that the girls placed their same hand over their hearts as I did mine.
The teacher explained when I asked her that every one's right and left are the same.)
Another idea I had wrong was the belief that one could only read a book once. Because then you'd read it. Other things were like that--if you thought didn't like a vegetable or some food, you'd have to try it, but once you tried it, you didn't have to eat it again. Or movies: once you'd seen a movie, then you'd seen it. You could remember it, talk about enjoying it, but you didn't go back. (Although one could play songs over and over and over again, which I did--which nearly drove my father to violence...)
One summer when I was reading through books like a paper shredder. Not that I tore or shredded them really, but I was just zooming through the pages and moving on. I played the same album while I read a book, and then I'd change the music when the book was over. I didn't really think much about it until I read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I enjoyed that book so much that it colored the album I was listening to. To this day, that music makes me think of reading Tom Sawyer. And when I was finished, I completely stopped and breathed a sigh: I had finished Tom Sawyer, and it was great and I could never read it again, because I had read it now.
There were so many things to see and to read (and still are, for all that) that I didn't even realize until years later that one could see a movie a second time or more if it was really good, and one could read a book a second or third time or more. What fun! What a surprise for me!
Since that discovery, I've read a number of books more than once, and a couple books as regularly as annually or bi-annually. But I've never re-read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I know I could. I've known I could for many years now. But that first reading was so perfect, so intensely sweet and irreproducible that if I did re-read the book, like a river, it wouldn't be the same book any more. Although concerning books I had been mistaken about not being able to read more than once, this one experience of reading I'm saving as the perfect one.

Friday, October 5, 2007

What are you reading over and over?

These are the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing's users(as of 10/2/07). As usual, bold what you have read, italicize those you started but couldn't finish, and strike through what you couldn't stand. Underline those on your to-read list. Add an asterisk to those you've read more than once.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
*Crime and Punishment

One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
*Life of Pi : a novel

The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
The Odyssey
*Pride and Prejudice
*Jane Eyre

*A Tale of Two Cities
*The Brothers Karamazov

Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
*Great Expectations
American Gods

Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault's Pendulum
Frankenstein--I've tried reading this more than once, but I couldn't finish it any of the times.
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
*The Once and Future King

The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
*Sense and Sensibility
*The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver's Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
The Prince
*The Sound and the Fury
Angela's Ashes : A Memoir
The God of Small Things
A People's History of the United States : 1492-present

A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
*The Scarlet Letter
*Eats, Shoots & Leaves

The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an Inquiry into Values
The Aeneid
*Watership Down
Gravity's Rainbow
*The Hobbit
White Teeth
*Treasure Island

David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Monday, October 1, 2007

There is beauty in the bellow of the blast

(Thanks to Gilbert & Sullivan)
Actually, this was merely a wet rain and not any blast at all. But I thought the colors and blurs were pretty. I'm a little less than completely happy (apologies to Anne Shirley & L[ucy] M[aud] Montgomery) with the picture. I like it better than the picture I took of the same view that had the signs and flowers in focus, but I think I'd like it better if I had an even smaller depth of field--with the sign and the flowers even more out of focus and the raindrops startlingly in focus.

Still, after one finishes picking up warm brown liquids at the coffee stand, this is excellent weather to visit a library and hunker down with a good book--or in the case of quite a few people, a good computer.

heh heh.