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.

4 comments:

Nick said...

Very interesting. I wonder if the person in charge of deciding matching books to numbers uses a dart board?

The Reader said...

I believe the official method is to have a cat walk across your numeric keypad.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a link to your source of numbers? That is - since the assignment of books to numbers is definitely far from scientific, it would be useful to those of us who might be able to suggest books if we knew what source you were using....

Chris

The Reader said...

Nope. I think that OCLC (the keeper of the Dewey Code) has indexes and software that allow you to look up a book, but they sell those.

My technique is very simple. I look up the book on WorldCat, and find the closest library, ideally my local one. Whatever number they have for the book, I use that.

Don't let the numbers stand in your way. If you know a good book, suggest it.