Thursday, October 23, 2008

738: What do you do with Red China?

The Arcanum : The Extraordinary True Story covers an interesting period in the Age of Reason. An "arcanum" is an alchemy term for a secret formula, and virtually all of Europe's finest minds were obsessed with discovering the ultimate arcanum: a philosopher's stone, which could transmute base metals to gold.

Augustus the Strong, King of Poland, was the patron of the alchemist Johann Bottger who had rashly promised he could create gold. Bottger became a prisoner for the rest of his life, seeking to deliver the philosopher's stone he had promised. He never succeeded, and, as the king's patience ran out, he frantically sought ways to save his reputation, and very likely his life. His salvation came when he met another alchemist who had been working on the problem of porcelain.

China held the secret of making porcelain, and all of Europe was obsessed with owning it. Augustus owned an immense collection, and was always buying more, at an incredible price. Accordingly, the kings were eager to discover the secret of making porcelain. The one who succeeded would have a monopoly on European porcelain, which would bring great prestige and, of course, wealth.

Bottger succeeded where all others had failed. At first, all he could create was a red stoneware that was beautiful and unique, but it was not truly porcelain. But Bottger persisted, literally for the rest of his life, and ultimately succeeded in independently recreating the formula the Chinese used to create the translucent white so valued by European nobility.

My one complaint is that the book could have used some illustrations or better yet color photos of some of the porcelain pieces being described. But a fun read, and another look at the staggering wealth and extravagance of the royalty of Europe.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

355: Goats

I took a break from The Black Swan to read The Men Who Stare At Goats. A great read, which manages to be both hilarious and disturbing, and difficult to put down.

The book investigates stories of military research to develop a new type of "psychic warrior" who were capable of various supernatural feats. The title comes from a persistent rumor that one of these men demonstrated the ability to kill a goat by simply looking at it.

In trying to verify this story, the author meets with psychics, Special Forces operatives, and martial artists. His story takes him from Special Forces training to detainee interrogations at Gitmo, and even into the CIA MK-ULTRA experiments with LSD and mind control.

A highly entertaining account and a fascinating look into the world of secret military research.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

973: Wreckage

In The wrecking crew : how conservatives rule, Thomas Frank examines the new conservative movement that has risen to dominance in the Republican party over the last forty years.

Frank's thesis is simple: the new conservatives despise government, and seek to destroy it. They see themselves as outsiders, as rebels, as, dare I say it, mavericks. John McCain's position that he is running against the government in which he serves is nothing new.

Accordingly, when they gain control of government, they wreck it. They appoint industry insiders to regulatory groups and systematically drive out any civil servants that disagree with their beliefs. They deregulate and let businesses runs wild. And when it all comes crashing down, when businesses fail and must be bailed out, and rampant corruption sends politicians to jail, the conservatives see it as vindication. "See! We told you! Government just doesn't work! Look at how it corrupts everyone who goes there!"

The book is extremely well written. Frank admirably succeeds at keeping the tone positive and fun. He clearly disagrees with the conservative movement he is blasting, but he avoids turning the book into a vitriolic screed.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Completed Titles

Thursday, September 18, 2008

818: Braaaaaaaaains!

Of course, zombies do not really say that, as Max Brooks explains in The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead. This is just one of the many Hollywood myths that he debunks in his tactical manual to surviving a zombie outbreak.

The book is a very handy size 8"x5" size, and weighs only 10.7 oz. It will fit nicely into a backpack, or a pocket on your scavenged army surplus fatigues. Inside, this text is packed with down-to-earth, battle-tested zombie fighting advice with some simple but effective illustrations.

This is a book about surviving the outbreak, plain and simple. Not fighting the outbreak, not controlling the zombies, but keeping yourself safe. All of his advice follows a simple plan: avoid attention, fight quietly and effectively, and get away fast.

Overall, this is a very good introduction to the dangers of a zombie-infested world, and belongs on the shelf of every survivalist. His section on underwater zombie eradication is fantastic, and contains information I have never seen published before.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

091: Bacon and Books

The Friar and the Cipher: Roger Bacon and the Unsolved Mystery of the Most Unusual Manuscript in the World has the longest title of all the books I've read so far. I'm glad to finish it, since now the "currently reading" box on the website won't be so stretched out.

This book reminded me a lot of Descartes' Notebook, for obvious reasons. The subject in both titles is a mysterious manuscript written in code or cipher by a medieval scientist who feared oppression by the church.

In both books, the authors' approach was similar. Introduce the medieval manuscript, then launch into a biography of the manuscript's author so that we understand the context in which it was written, then return to reveal what is known of the manuscript today.

Unlike the Descartes notebook, the book in The Friar and the Cipher exists today and is still being researched and studied. The Voynich Manuscript, named after the English bookdealer who discovered it in 1912, has defied scholars for more than 400 years. The authors recount fascinating attempts to decode the book ranging from World War II code breakers to the NSA and super computers. All have ultimately failed, and the attempts to read the book continue to this day.

There are undoubtedly better biographies of Roger Bacon, and better books on the Voynich manuscript, but this book provides an excellent introduction to both subjects. The writing is very clear and enjoyable, and manages to cover an astounding range of topics along the way.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

529: Tick. Tock.

The clock of the long now : time and responsibility attempts to explain the philosophy and goals behind the Long Now foundation.

The foundation is concerned about the increasingly short-term vision of modern life. The book was written in 1998, when the Internet boom was driving everything at "Internet time", but even today it is clear that long term planning is constantly discarded for short term returns in everything from corporate strategy to politics.

I was particularly struck by the author's examples of long-term scientific research. Longitudinal studies have produced some of the most valuable research in a wide range of topics from biology to genetics. Yet it's almost impossible to fund and continue such research in the paper-driven research environment today. Studying slash and burn agriculture in Africa over 9 years led to the conclusion that it did not work to stop woods from taking over open grasslands. Studying the same fields over 40 years led to the reverse conclusion. It turns out that it takes about 10 years of repeated burning to finally destroy the rootstocks.

The clock alluded to in the title is partially an engineering challenge, and partially an exercise in thinking long term. Can a clock be made that will work for 10,000 years -- as long as human civilization has existed? The clock itself runs incredibly slow. It will tick once a year, and bong once a century. It will last for entire lifetimes. It may even outlast our entire civilization. Just to conceptualize the clock is to force the mind to think long-term.

The book is an interesting and evocative read. The chapters are more like separate mini-essays, and accordingly, the book does not have a flowing narrative. In parts, the book reads like a conversation between friends, which is not surprising. Much of the content evolved out of long-running discussions on the subject. While not every chapter is successful, I found most gave me something to think about.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

200: In the beginning

The great transformation : the beginning of our religious traditions, by Karen Armstrong, examines the growth of religious practices in four regions of Europe and Asia: Greece, Israel, India, and China.

The book is dense, and no wonder. She's moving through 1000 years of history, philosophy, religion, and cultural anthropology for four separate regions of the world. But the book is so well-written that it makes it very accessible. This is a book that is simply overflowing with information, and I learned something new on every page.

It makes for a fascinating read. The last chapter is absolutely fantastic, and pulls it all together, and puts it in context for the modern age.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Harder to find books

The book list is now over 200 titles long, covering a little more than 150 categories. I'm finding it increasingly hard to find titles in new categories. I'm finding no end of really interesting books, but inevitably, they fall into a category where I've already got books.

Last night, I added about 10 books, and got only 1 new category.

On the plus side, that list is 20% of the way done, and probably 3-4 years' worth of reading, which gives me time to find other selections.

As always, suggestions, particularly in off-the-wall topics, are welcome!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

423: Murder and the OED

The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester tells the story of the making of the Oxford English Dictionary, perhaps the greatest reference work ever written on the English language. Wrapped around the story of the dictionary is the odd story of two men who were significantly involved in the project.

Professor James Murray was a scholar and linguist, and was selected by the Delegates of the Oxford University Press to take over the troubled OED project after the first attempt stalled under its own weight. He was given 10 years to complete the dictionary; it would ultimately take more than half a century, and he would die before the OED was finished.

Dr William Minor, an American Civil War veteran and surgeon, submitted more than ten thousand definitions, many of which were used in the final publication. He was also a murderer, and an inmate at an insane asylum.

The book succeeds in capturing the immensity of the task of creating a dictionary that defines every word in the English language, from everyday words like of to the obscure, regional or obsolete, such as the old Kentish word zykt (a local variant of the verb to see). The OED defined more than 400,000 words, using 1.8 million quotations to illustrate the correct usage of each.

The author slices through the myth and legend that has grown up around this story to find the true story, which is even stranger than the fiction. A highly recommended, very entertaining book.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A solution for missing categories

My first reaction to the unassigned categories list was "94 books down!"

But then I had a better idea. One of the drawbacks of this contest is that I only get one book per category, no matter what. This means that sometimes I have to skip extremely interesting looking books because the category is already filled. Even though I've only read 6 books, I've already had a dozen or more blocked for this reason.

My solution is to use the unassigned categories as wildcards. For each unassigned category, I will read another book from the same class. For example, there are 7 unassigned categories throughout 600 Technology. That means I can read 7 more books from any category in 600.

Another advantage is that it makes the contest a nice round number. Instead of saying I'm reading 906 books, I can say I'm reading 1000. It also makes a lot of math simpler for things like progress bars and charts.

And before some rules lawyer out there brings it up, yes, I initially considered staying in the same subcategory for the substitution. For example, the replacement to 699 [Unassigned] must be something in 690 Buildings.

I rejected it because I don't think it will work very well. The reason there are unassigned numbers in a subcategory is that there simply aren't enough topics in that area to need numbers. So I'm probably not going to have very many duplicate books in that subcategory in the first place. In some cases, such as the 110 Metaphysics area, my library literally doesn't have ANY books, so finding a replacement in that category would be madness.

Of course, if you can't live with this egregious rule bending, you are more than welcome to start your own, far superior, Dewey reading contest. Please let me know so that I can link to your site.

The missing categories

I finally got around to creating a spreadsheet of all the of unassigned or optional categories. Unassigned categories are ones that have been moved, deleted, or were never in use. Optional are categories where the official standard allows "options to standard practice", whatever that means. Almost all of the optional categories are under 920 Biography, so perhaps some libraries used those values to organize biographies?

Here is a summary table of all the missing categories:

Unassigned categories

Monday, August 18, 2008

956: Baghdad

When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World by Hugh Kennedy is a well-written and entertaining history of the Abbasid caliphs, who ruled the Muslim world for about 200 years from AD 762. This period is often referred to as the Golden Era of the Islamic empire, where poetry and science flourished, and their wealth seemed endless.

One of the things I liked most about the book was its extensive use of original sources. The author uses a number of writings from Arabian historians from that era, which provides insight on how the events of the day were perceived. When a caliph dies early in his reign (which happened a lot!), the author is often able to indicate whether the death was suspicious or just bad luck.

While the material can be a little tough at times (particularly when it comes to names of the caliphs, which appear to all start with the letter 'M', and which often changed when they took the position), the author does an excellent job of keeping things moving, with many stories and amusing anecdotes.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

800 is a problem

Initially, I wasn't too worried about 800 Literature & rhetoric. I haven't read many classics since I was forced to in high school, so I thought this would be a great chance to read the great works of the world. As a result, I didn't particularly focus on finding works in the 800s.

Accordingly, it's become a problem category. I have 5 books in the 800s, but they are in two categories 808 and 818.

808 Rhetoric & collections of literature appears to be where every book on the process of writing is dumped, and has roughly ten thousand entries on writing everything from writing children's fiction to writing exciting procedural thrillers featuring hermaphrodite forensic accountants. Frequent readers of my blog can look forward to my writing improving after I finally reach that section.

818 Miscellaneous writings (Under 810 American & Canadian literature) is broad enough to include:
  • Walden by this Thoreau fellow, who I hear is good.
  • The zombie survival guide : complete protection from the living dead, an important topic for anyone.
  • I am America (and so can you!) by Stephen Colbert, former vice presidential candidate to Mike Huckabee.
It won't be hard to find something to read in 818, but narrowing it down could be difficult.

The other problem is that much of the literature is classified fiction, and doesn't appear in the non-fiction numbers. For instance, 833 German fiction has about 20 books, mostly about German fiction. There is a book on Gunter Grass, but none of the books by Gunter Grass.

On the other hand, Dante can be found in 851 Italian poetry. Is the distinction whether the book is modern? I notice Mary Shelley's works are still in fiction.

Maybe I should have known more about the DDC before I set this challenge. If only there were a book on the topic, and some sort of local facility that would store the book and lend it freely to anyone who wanted to read it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Number of books per category


I've been messing around with the layout and look of the blog. I liked the blue template's look, but it proved to be too hard to work with.

In order to add some of the Google visualizations (the tables holding the book lists), I needed to widen the content section of the blog. I spent about an hour messing around with the blue template, and discovered all of its widths are hard-coded, making it difficult to modify. Eventually, I gave up and found one that adapts to the size of the screen. In other words, a correctly coded one.

The spreadsheet is getting a little hard to work with now that it's over 100 rows. Plus, I don't think anyone else can sort it since they don't have access to modify it. So I've changed the Booklist link on the right to point to the blog point containing the table.

The front page is kinda slow to load right now, thanks to all the queries going out. This should get better once the last two posts leave the first page of the blog. If the tables don't load, try hitting reload (once, please. Don't DOS me!), and let me know.

The Book list

A slightly easier to use book list. This is a Google data visualization (specifically their Table), which displays the rows in the spreadsheet that holds the book list. Like all of the tables on this site, it is dynamically generated when the page loads, so it always has the most current information out of the book list.

The rows can be sorted by clicking on any of the column headers.

Duplicate Categories

I noted a few days ago that the list had passed 100 books. However, a number of categories contain more than one book, so I actually hadn't reached 100 categories.

As of today, I have 100 categories, using 141 books. I've also figured out how to make the Google data tables show up in a post*, so I'll celebrate by displaying a table of the duplicate categories:

*in case anyone else is fighting with this, you have to put the entire chunk of code on a single line with no line breaks. Otherwise, blogger will helpfully add br tags throughout the javascript code, which breaks it.**

**Turns out, you don't actually have to do that. Blogger has a setting where it will add line breaks for you automatically in the post editor. Turn that off, and you can add your javascript with normal formatting.***

***Of course, as soon as you do, Blogger completely ignores your line returns, and your posts run together. Like that above.****

****And I've already gotten sick of having to add br to every line in my posts. Not to mention it broke all the old posts. It would be nice if Blogger's parser would watch for script tags, and not insert br tags inside them.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

100 Books on the Booklist

I've finally made it to 100 books on the reading list, which was one of my goals. Having a critical mass of books on the reading list makes it easier to decide which book I want to read in a given category.

An astute reader who carefully studies my list will probably quickly notice a number of duplicates. For right now, I'm allowing a few duplicates in each category I haven't read. Once I reach that category, I'll pick one of the choices, and discard the others. So my list of 100 titles is really a bit shorter, once you eliminate the 10 or so duplicates.

The problem from here on out will be finding entries in the more obscure categories. Already, I can name my favorite categories based on population:
  • 973. Technically "US History", but pretty much anything related to the US goes here. Barack Obama's book is here, as is a book on Revolutionary War privateers. A surprising number of political books are categorized here.
  • 320 and 324. All of the political screeds that aren't found in 973 are found in one of these two categories.
  • 612. I've very interested in how the human body works. Unfortunately, every book on the topic, from memory to balance to emotion to memory falls here.
As always, suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

510: Descartes

Until I read this book, my entire knowledge of Rene Descartes consisted of the stanza from Monty Python's Philosophers Song. Accordingly, I approached Descartes' Secret Notebook by Amir Aczel with almost no preconceptions about Descartes.

The title refers to an encoded notebook found in Descartes' possessions after his death. A student philosopher, Leibniz, was allowed to copy some of Descartes' papers, including a few pages from the notebook. A few years later, the notebook was lost and was never seen again.

The majority of the book is a somewhat cursory biography of Descartes. As the actual notebook was only 16 pages long, and the only remaining copy is just a few pages of that, it would be difficult to spend an entire book on the notebook.

Instead, most of the book follows Descartes in his travels around Europe. The biography works to explain Descartes' intense need for secrecy and generally succeeds. Descartes lived in a turbulent, dangerous time when studying physics and math could bring down the wrath of the Catholic Church upon him. Accordingly, he delayed publication of some of his books, and significantly altered others in an attempt to avoid persecution.

The author returns to the notebook at the end of the book, and discusses what was found within. This part is apparently somewhat controversial, judging from some of the angry reviews I found on Amazon. I found it plausible and well-explained, and the author ties it in with some current cosmology theory in an interesting discussion.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. If I were more familiar with Descartes, I probably would have found the biography brief and lacking. As it was, I found that the book served as an excellent introduction to Descartes, and got me interested in finding out more about the time period.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

612: Balance

Balance : in search of the lost sense by Scott McCredie has been a quick, enjoyable read. The book explains the vestibular system, how proprioception works, and the importance of balance in everyday life. The author explores the evolution and origin of balance, and how it provided an evolutionary advantage for primitive man.

Along the way, the author discusses balance in a very wide range of topics, from Van Gogh's ear to circus acrobats and even a possible explanation for the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr. The writing is clear and informative, and the chapters are well organized.

The author has carefully documented his writing with actual studies and discussions with researchers in the field. Where the claims are more speculative, such as the possible links of the vestibular system with cognition and memory, he makes it very clear that it's just a theory, and a disputed one at that.

A fascinating read, and one that will benefit everyone from athletes to the elderly. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

791: Filmmaking

I have never attended film school, so I can't say for certain if What They Don't Teach You at Film School, by Camille Landau and Tiare White lives up to its title. The book consists of a series of tips (161 of them) pertaining to video film production. Each tip is a page or two, and they have the feel that they came from the authors' own experiences.

Most of the tips are on interpersonal relations (i.e., managing your crew, finding investors, schmoozing, begging for free stuff, etc.) as opposed to filming techniques or script writing. The authors anticipate you'll probably be trying to film a short on the cheap, with people donating their time. Accordingly, they bring up a long list of possible complications and problems, from how to approach investors to why you never hire people in pairs (because if one doesn't work out, you'll lose both of them at once).

It was a bit of a tough read, as the tips did not really flow into one another. Instead, each read like a separate chapter. They were organized into broad categories, but that didn't help much with the readability. The book's target audience appears to be a newly graduated film student living in Los Angeles working on getting their short film done, which I am not. Not a bad book, but not exactly what I was looking for.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

On suggestions

My thanks to everyone who has posted a book to the suggestions list!

All suggestions that are submitted are stored for my approval first before they show up on the suggestion list. That's in case some wise guy starts posting a few too many suggestions in the 306.77 category. Rest assured, I get all of your suggestions.

I'm planning to update the suggestion list to provide columns to give a little feedback on if a book was accepted or rejected, and why. The most common reasons I would reject a book are:
  1. Already read it, so I can't use it.
  2. Already read something in that category. One book per category, remember?
  3. I already have too many picks in that category on the book list. I don't mind having a couple choices in each category, but once I have a couple good choices I will be very reluctant to accept more.
  4. Not to be rude, but it sounds boring. This challenge is going to be hard enough as it is. I'm have to focus on fascinating books that can keep my interest.
  5. It's too long. That's a horrible reason to not read a book, but I have to have some limits. If my list fills up with 900 page volumes, this is going to take two decades, not one.
  6. My local library doesn't have it. This shouldn't happen very often, as the library is connected to a large network of bigger libraries. But if it's particularly rare or oddball, then it might happen. I'll probably leave it on the suggestion list until I can find a copy myself.
If I decide to use a book, I'll add it to the book list.

I currently have about 30 books on the book list. My goal now is to expand the list to 100 books, with coverage across all categories. This will make it easier to analyze new suggestions, and decide if they should be added to the reading list.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

158: On quitting

No, I haven't given up already. I finished my second book a few days ago, but just didn't get around to writing the review for it.

My second book is from 158, Applied Psychology. The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When To Quit (And When to Stick) by Seth Godin, is all about quitting at the right time. It's a quick read, but an interesting one. Godin's books tend to be short and focused on a single topic, and this one is no exception, weighing in at a mighty 80 pages.

Most new ventures, from businesses to mastering a skill, start out fun and exciting, but that doesn't last. You inevitably hit a decline. The business expands, and suddenly you're dealing with lots of hassles and less of the fun stuff. You reach a point where you're not progressing any more. What then?

The conventional wisdom is to never quit. "Winners never quit and quitters never win," as the quote from Vince Lombardi goes. Godin skewers this cliche, and amply demonstrates that there are times where it does make sense to quit, and to quit early.

It's a fun read, and recommended.

Friday, July 11, 2008

How long will this take?

There are 1000 entries in the Dewey Decimal system, from 001 Knowledge to 999 Extraterrestrial worlds (side note: my local library has a ton of UFO books in 001. So their collection starts and ends with extraterrestrials). About 90 of these categories are unused entries.

Some categories are entirely foreign language. Being monolingual, I'll have to skip those.

There's also a number of sections that are largely reference works, such as 453 -- Italian dictionaries, or 031 -- Encyclopedias in American English. Unless I find something readable in that section, I'll have to skip those as well.

My guess is that will be about 800 books total. I'm a fairly fast reader, but that's still daunting. 2 books a week, 50 weeks per year (2 weeks off for vacation) comes out to 8 years of work.

As I said before, I'm not in a huge hurry. I read lots of non-fiction anyway; this is just channeling and guiding it. I'm not planning on dropping all my other activities so I can crank out this challenge in record time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

394: First book

I've finished my first book! Well, the first one that counts for the contest anyway.

It is a selection from 394.8, General Customs, titled The Duel: A History of Dueling, by Robert Baldick.

Overall, I found it a very interesting and well-organized look at the evolution of dueling over time and location. The first appearance of the duel was in Europe around 500 AD, and it was used to determine innocence or guilt in a criminal trial or a dispute. Over time, as criminal codes and judicial systems took over the role of criminal justice, dueling evolved into a method of resolving disputes, primarily among the gentry. Dueling was often officially illegal, but the laws were sporadically enforced and rarely deterred the combatants.

The book primarily focuses on France and England, but also includes a good section on dueling in other countries, including Germany, Russia, and America. The majority of the book is spent recounting famous, infamous and often ludicrous duels over the centuries. It bogs down a little at times as it recounts duel after duel, but remains a fun read, and well worth checking out.

The book is very attractive, with some nice woodcut illustrations and period paintings throughout, and even a few very early photographs. One minor criticism I had was that the illustrations are generally nowhere near the text in the book that refers to the picture.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


It's occurred to me that there are a number of dark corners of the library that I know nothing about. Take 866 -- Spanish letters. I have no idea what kinds of books I'm going to find there. Famous letters, maybe? Are they all in Spanish, or can I find an English translation?

Or 960 -- History of Africa. Africa is a big place, and that is a huge topic. Sure, I can just grab the first likely looking book off the shelf in that section, but I'd rather read a really good book on the topic. Besides, I know myself. As this contest goes on, I'm probably going to be grabbing books based on thickness.

To avoid having to read too many random grabs, I'm asking for suggestions. If you know of a good non-fiction book, particularly an esoteric and interesting book in an odd category, let me know! It'd be nice if you could include the call number and the other info, but don't worry about it if you don't know it.

Suggestions can be posted as comments to this post, or you can use the Suggestions form located in the links section.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Here are the ground rules:
  1. I will read one book from each Dewey Decimal classification, from 000 to 999, skipping any of the classes that are empty or unused. Also, if I run across a category that is impossible to read, such as "Dictionaries of Spanish Train Parts", I'm probably going to skip that too.
  2. Nothing I have read before counts towards finishing. That is, only books that I read after starting this blog will be counted.
  3. I'll try to write a short review of each book I finish, and publish it here.
  4. No, I'm not doing them in order. That would be sheer madness.
  5. If I read a book that's not from my library, then I'll determine the most accurate number for it by looking it up in several online library catalogs, and use that.
  6. I'm not in any hurry, and I have no expected end date. "Before I die" would be nice, as I really don't want to haunt my local library for centuries finishing up.
Questions, comments, want to sell me iPods? Post a comment.

What is this about?

It's pretty simple, really. I read. A lot. Since I'm not independently wealthy, and am, in fact, pretty cheap, I use the library all the time. I was staring at my stack of library books, thinking about what to read next, and I idly noticed the numbers at the base of the spine. Those are, for the uninitiated, the book's Dewey Decimal number, which tells the library where to shelve it. I had books from all over the library, and I thought, "I wonder how long it would take to read all of them?"

Since I'm not immortal, nor am I the guy from the Twilight Zone episode, I did have to scale it down somewhat. My goal is to read one book from every major number in the Dewey Decimal System. There are 1000 subcategories, although a number are not in use.

Why? Um. Yeah. I don't really have a good reason. Some people play golf. I read. Some slightly better reasons:
  1. somebody already beat me to reading the encyclopedia.
  2. I read a lot of non-fiction anyway, so why not try to keep a list, and try to make sure I cover everything?
  3. I'm kinda curious what esoteric knowledge lingers in the dark corners of the library.
  4. because I'd like to draw some attention to just how much amazing knowledge is piled up in even your tiny local library. They have everything mankind has produced in its 6,000 years. With all that knowledge, we've accomplished some pretty amazing things. You wouldn't be on the internet wasting your time reading this blog if it wasn't for some dude in Persia discovering algebra.
  5. because I'm a big know it all, and if I finish this I can move up to a huge one.