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10 From Dewey: A Dewey Decimal Reading List

nonfiction stacks in a library

April 8, 2020

Over a century ago, Melvil Dewey decided that libraries were too disorganized, so he set out to organize all the world’s knowledge into ten categories. While many librarians discuss the continued use of these categories to organize knowledge, many public libraries still use them today.

If you're looking for a nonfiction book to read but aren't sure what you're in the mood for, I’ve picked 10 titles; one each from each of the subject areas. While one title doesn’t completely cover all the topics included in that one category, this will give you a taste of what each one contains. All of these books are available for free checkout and download in Wisconsin's Digital Library via the Overdrive or Libby apps.


Book Cover: THE 37TH PARALELL: THE SECRET TRUTH

"THE 37TH PARALELL: THE SECRET TRUTH" by BEN MEZRICH ​​​​​​​

000-099 - Computer Science, Information and General Works
This section contains mostly computer manuals, books about books and library work and encyclopedias. However, it does have one of my favorite sections: the section on the unexplained, including UFO books, cryptozoology, and other mysteries!

Dewey 001.942
Available as an audiobook

Chuck Zukowski had an interesting hobby. He was fascinated with tracking down UFO reports in Colorado. He even dragged his kids along during their vacations while he tracked down witnesses. His hobby soon took a more sinister turn when he discovered cattle and other livestock were being mutilated and drained of their blood. Soon, Zukowski documents hundreds of strange incidents that all seem to run along the 37th parallel of longitude. Are aliens responsible or is it something else?

Book Cover: SIX WOMEN OF SALEM: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE ACCUSED AND ACCUSERS IN THE SALEM WITCH TRIAL

"SIX WOMEN OF SALEM: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE ACCUSED AND ACCUSERS IN THE SALEM WITCH TRIAL" by MARILYNNE ROACH

100-199 - Philosophy and Psychology
Here we find books on metaphysics as well as philosophy from greats like Carl Jung.  It’s also the place where books on astrology, witchcraft and Sylvia Brown can be found.  This is another of my favorite sections in the library.

Dewey 133.43
Available as an e-book

Using six women, the author highlights the crisis that became known as the Salem Witch Trials. By the end, 25 people had died or been put to death. Too often, the individuals are reduced to stock characters when accuracy about what happened is left behind. Want to know the true story of the Salem Witch Trials and how the townspeople recovered? This is for you!

Book Cover: NORSE MYTHOLOGY

"NORSE MYTHOLOGY" by NEIL GAIMAN

200-299 - Religion
This where we find everything from Bibles, to mythology and world religions.This includes archeological and interpretive studies of religious texts, including the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Dewey 293.1
Available as an e-book and audiobook

In this collection of these great northern tales, Gaiman recasts these myths in to a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the nine worlds, explores the exploits of deities, giants and dwarves. His story culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods. Gaiman stays true to the nature of the myths retelling stories of Loki, Odin and Thor.

Book Cover: THERE ARE NO CHILDREN HERE: THE STORY OF TWO BOYS GROWING UP IN THE OTHER AMERICA

"THERE ARE NO CHILDREN HERE: THE STORY OF TWO BOYS GROWING UP IN THE OTHER AMERICA" by ALEX KOTLOWITZ

300-399 - Social Sciences
The 300’s contain a wide variety of books and materials, including books about customs, economics, military history and education. This is where you will find books on Christmas customs and true crime in this section.

Dewey 305.23
Available on audiobook

Describing the life of Lafeyette and his brother, Pharoah, in the Henry Horner public housing complex in Chicago, this book starts in the summer of 1987. This book shows their struggles against poverty, gun violence, and gangs and the way the overburdened and neglectful bureaucracies effect their day to day lives. The New York Public Library selected this as one of the most important books of the twentieth century.

Book Cover: WISCONSIN TALK: LINGUISTIC DIVERSITY IN THE BADGER STATE

"WISCONSIN TALK: LINGUISTIC DIVERSITY IN THE BADGER STATE" by THOMAS PURNELL AND ERIC RAIMY

400-499 - Language
Here we will find all the books on languages; learning languages, analyzing languages, and the many dialects of the United States.  You can also find books for English Language Learners, sign language.

Dewey 409.775
Available as an e-book

Wisconsin is one of the most linguistically rich places in North America. Our state has the greatest diversity of Native American languages east of the Mississippi. The many different Wisconsin dialects show the influence of French, Polish, German, Norwegian and Polish languages. The newest immigrants include the Hmong, Spanish and Somali are enriching our state’s language even more.

Book Cover: WHAT WE SEE IN THE STARS: AN ILLUSTRATED TOUR OF THE NIGHT SKY

"WHAT WE SEE IN THE STARS: AN ILLUSTRATED TOUR OF THE NIGHT SKY " by KELSEY OSEID

500-599 - Science
It’s hard to image the whole of science crammed into one section of the library, yet here are the 500’s. Everything from basic math, astronomy, physics to biology are organized here

Dewey 523.8
Available on e-book

Combining art, science and mythology, this book gives readers a tour of the night sky. Weaving legends and myths with scientific facts, the author also covers some of the most brilliant features of the night sky, including constellations, the moon, bright stars and visible planets. Learn about natural history and outer space with this beautiful book.

Book Cover: THE SHALLOWS: WHAT THE INTERNET IS DOING TO OUR BRAINS

"THE SHALLOWS: WHAT THE INTERNET IS DOING TO OUR BRAINS" by NICHOLAS CARR

600-699 - Technology
This section contains books about technology, using science to create new things. This includes things like medicine and health, human anatomy, health and safety and home management.

Dewey 612.82
Available as an audiobook

Does using Google make us stupid? The internet is probably the most pervasive force in our world today. How is it changing our intellect and culture? Carr describes how human thought has been shaped throughout the centuries, including some of the most recent discoveries in neuroscience. Carr makes a case that every information technology carries with it an intellectual ethic and the means to change how we read, think about and understand our world.  

Book Cover: YOUR FAVORITE BAND IS KILLING ME: WHAT POP MUSIC RIVALRIES REVEAL ABOUT THE MEANING OF LIFE

"YOUR FAVORITE BAND IS KILLING ME: WHAT POP MUSIC RIVALRIES REVEAL ABOUT THE MEANING OF LIFE" by STEVEN HYDEN

700-799 - Arts and Recreation
Everything having to do with the arts is here, including paintings, museums, film, TV and sculpture. Surprisingly, architecture, music, landscaping and sports, including card games and fishing, hunting and shooting and knitting and crochet all find a home here.

781.64
Available as an e-book

You love Abba. Your boyfriend is a committed metal head. What do these choices say about you? Opinions about music bring out the worst in people. Here, Hyden focuses on pop music rivalries from the classics to modern times. Along the way he explores the perennial battle between young and old that might prompt you to give your kid’s favorite band a listen.

Book Cover: STAG’S LEAP

"STAG’S LEAP " by SHARON OLDS

800-899 - Literature
This section might seem a little weird. Isn’t literature supposed to be in the fiction section of the library? In this section, classics and poetry rub elbows with books on grammar, writing and finding a place to publish. You can find great classics here, like Milton, Shakespeare and Sophocles. You will also find literary criticism that analyzes texts to help the reader comprehend the text better or from a different point of view.

Dewey 811.54
Available as an e-book

Sharon Olds is a poet who isn’t afraid to face the disturbing truths about life. In this book of poems, Olds shares the year when her marriage was ending and delves into the feelings the breakup of a long term relationship can cause; feeling invisible, the loss of that other person and the change that happens in our world when this happens. Her approach to both the pain of loss and the love that continues make this one of the best books written by the poet.

Book Cover: JANESVILLE: AN AMERICAN STORY

"JANESVILLE: AN AMERICAN STORY" by AMY GOLDSTEIN

900-999 - History and Geography
This is where you’d find maps, information about wars and travel guides. This section can be overwhelming, especially when you think about the fact that history from Ancient Egypt up until now is all packed into this section. 

Dewey 977.5
Available as an e-book and as an audiobook

When General Motors decided to close their factory in Janesville, the focus was on the immediate aftermath: Where would people work? Could I manage to find another job? Will I have to move? But what happens a few years later, after the shock and dismay have worn off? Amy Goldstein spent years in Janesville and her book shows the consequences of this decision on everyone in town.


Reading Recommendations Books

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