I LOVE to read. While I enjoy the occasional fiction book, my true love is nonfiction. I love biographies and memoirs. I love books that go behind-the-scenes. I love history books. I love books that teach specific skills that relate to my hobbies and interests.
When I made my list of 40 Things, I wanted to set some sort of goal related to reading or learning. I wasn't quite sure what form that would take though, until last week when I was in the library happily killing time during Trevor's book club meeting. As I wandered the nonfiction stacks, it struck me that I always seemed to pull books from the same five or six areas. There were entire rows I rarely even entered. The answer came to me: Goal #35 would be a challenge I'd call Library Roulette.
As soon as I got home, I posted on Facebook asking my friends to pick a number between 1 and 1000. I didn't tell them why. Immediately, the numbers started coming in. 25, then 1, then 999, then 587. Yippee! The first numbers in my Library Roulette! The numbers kept coming. After a couple dozen responses, I cut them off. That would be plenty.
I arranged the responses in numerical order, then I looked up the Dewey Decimal category associated with each number. As it turns out, there are a few numbers in the Dewey system that are unassigned or no longer used, including 7, 9, and 237. I eliminated those numbers and wrote out the rest. Here's what the list looked like:
021: Library Relationships
025: Library Operations
037: Encyclopedias in Slavic Languages
042: Biographies in English
043: Biographies in German
087: Collections in Slavic Languages
225: New Testament
314: General Statistics of Europe
327: International Relations
365: Penal and Related Institutions
500: Natural Sciences and Mathematics
587: Pteridophyta (vascular cryptogams)
587: Pteridophyta (vascular cryptogams)
737: Numismatics and Sigillography
750: Painting and Paintings
765: Metal Engraving
777: Cinematography and Videography
800: Literature and Rhetoric
831: German Poetry
888: Classical Greek Miscellaneous Writings
963: General History of Africa - Ethiopia
999: Extraterrestrial Worlds
Wow! What a cool list! My plan was to start at 001, check the shelves, and select the most interesting sounding book in the category. I'd skip any books that weren't in English (no Slavic encyclopedias). I'd continue all the way to 999. From those, I would make a top ten that would become my Goal 35 reading list. I practically skipped into the library, I was so excited.
And then I got to 001. I wasn't sure what "Knowledge" would mean, but right away I found out that it was a very interesting topic. After looking at each of the choices, I picked two books from the shelf instead of the one I'd planned.
I moved on to 003 ("Systems"). There were only three 003 books on the shelf, so it was easier to choose my one and move on. I took the only 021 book ("Library Systems") but struggled to pick one favorite from the tons of books in 025 ("Library Operations").
I was actually a bit pleased to see that there weren't any Slavic encyclopedias available for checkout, so I didn't need to feel bad about ruling it out. Same with biographies in German. I moved on, selecting my 225 and 327.
Then I got to 365 ("Penal and Related Institutions"). I've always been interested in prison systems and true crime (perhaps from touring Alcatraz so often as a kid). This section was also filled with all sorts of biographies and memoirs, which are my absolute favorite books. I agonized about what to pick. I sat in the aisle for at least 10 minutes choosing between these three, which all sounded SO good.
At that point, I realized I needed to put back one of the 001 books. My tote was getting heavy and it was time to make a decision.
And so it continued. I struggled to choose a 500 (Natural Sciences and Mathematics). I was disappointed that there wasn't a 587 (Pteridophyta). I'd had to Google that to learn that it was a fern, so it would obviously be an area where I could learn a lot. There was only one 737 (Numismatics and Sigillography). It was the first book I added to my stack that I wasn't enthusiastic to read.
I continued through the stacks gathering my books. There were quite a few topics where there were no books available. In some cases, it was probably because the topic isn't in high demand around here (888 "Classical Greek Miscellaneous Writings", for example). In other cases, it was probably because someone had checked out the few books on that topic (765 "Metal Engraving"). I got the the last number, 999 ("Extraterrestrial Worlds") - nothing.
I'll check in occasionally with updates about my progress toward the goal. I hope you're all looking forward to learning about Knowledge, Library Relationships, and Numismatics & Sigillography and much more in the upcoming weeks!