Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book Junkie

Tonight I had an hour of free time while Dan was with the children at the church for Scouts.  I was already out in the car, and I was trying to decide what to do with my freedom.  The mall?  Target?  Salvation Army?  DSW?  The idea of shopping was not particularly appealing, so I stopped in at the library on my way home.  I thought, I'll just return these two books, pick up the stuff waiting for me on the hold shelf, and be off.  I have so many books already, the last thing I need is to look for more books.  But I meandered over to the stacks anyway, and ended up spending one blissful hour in a single row, leaving with a tower of new books too tall to carry comfortably.

Which row was it? you  may be asking yourself (just pretend).  Our library system uses Dewey decimal call numbers and I was in the first row of nonfiction, so the 000-200 range.  The Dewey system uses numbers, and is divided into ten big categories (as opposed to the Library of Congress system which uses letters followed by numbers and is divided into 21 main categories).  Here are the Dewey categories:

000 Generalities
100 Philosophy & Psychology
200 Religion
300 Social Sciences
400 Language
500 Natural Science & Mathematics
600 Technology (Applies Sciences)
700 The Arts
800 Literature & Rhetoric
900 Geography & History

Within each broad Dewey category, there are 100 sub-categories.  In the 000s, for instance, there is a subcategory for 000, 001, 002 and so on to 099.  Some of the subcategory titles are quite interesting.  007-009 are "not assigned or no longer used," as are 024, 029, and 040-049.  I can't help but wonder, if they are no longer in use, what were they used for originally, and why are they not being used any more?  093 is "Incunabula."  What is that?  (Now that I've asked, I must Google the word to answer my own question)

According to Phil Barber, incunabula refers to all of the printed books of the 15th century, starting with the Gutenberg Bible in 1455 and ending with books made in the year 1500.  This word was created by 17th- century book collectors to replace the synonymous term "fifteeners".  Hmmm.  How many of you already knew that?
For your entertainment (so entertaining!), here is a breakdown of the numbers and the books I brought home today:

011 Bibliographies: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (Peter Boxall, editor)
028 Reading: Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader (Anne Fadiman)
154 Subconscious & Altered States: The Universal Dream Key: The 12 Most Common Dream Themes Around the World (Patricia Garfield)
158 Applied Psychology: Dream Big: O's Guide to Discovering Your Best Life (the editors of O, The Oprah Magazine) and Romancing the Ordinary: A Year of Simple Splendor (Sarah Ban Breathnach)

As I sat in the middle of the 100s tonight, Philosophy & Psychology, I just kept reading title after title to myself and thinking, I could not be going into a more perfect field of study.  I just can't get enough of books like this.  I cannot say the same for history, which was the subject of my first (aborted) Ph.D. attempt.  I've honestly never had that much interest in history.  That should have been my first clue...

Each time I browse the shelves and bring home a stack of books, I am filled with excitement.  I wish I could devour the whole stack in one night.  Even getting through one book a night would be lovely.  But, sadly, many of the books end up returned without ever being opened.  This has to do with a common (problematic) theme in my life: all or nothing.  I either read every word and take copious notes, or I don't open the book at all.  I am going to try to skim my books this time, just for practice.  There are so many books, and so little time.


Lybi said...

I agree. Books are such a draw. And I always think I will have more time to read them than I do. Right now I am meandering through "The Grapes of Wrath" and learning about the depression. Hmm, history.

If I had your stack of books I'd start with the dream one. Dreams are so weird, it is so validating to know other people dream the same weird stuff. My no.1 dream is that I can't find my classes at college and my schedule's all Messed up. No. 2: flying, if I can just try hard enough.

PG said...

The dream book is the one that I spent the most time actually reading in the library. I have very vivid dreams, and I really enjoyed looking for my major dream themes and seeing what this "expert" has to say about them. My major themes are being late for an international flight because I'm spending too long trying to pack, and being threatened by giant waves or sea animals.

HW said...

Yes, yes, yes! Freedom in a library is just delicious. No wonder we are friends. And, do you think is just a bit auspicious that it is the DEWEY decimal system? Was that a relative or something?


PG said...

Yes, I can't help but be fond of the Dewey decimal system. Not a family is believed to have come to the United States from French Canada a few generations ago and changed their lovely surname from LaVoie to Dewey to sound more American.

LL said...

I love reading and always love to hear about the books you are reading. :-)

When I was in school I used to go relax in the medical journals aisles and just read one interesting research paper after another. Now I toy with the idea of getting some sort of medical degree. Why on earth did I major in economics??

Suzanne said...

Good for you! Getting a PhD in History when you're not crazy about it seems like a bad idea, so glad you didn't go there. I'm pretty all or nothing, so I think of it as a strength.....