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A Reading Project For Lunatics – Join Me!

Melvin Dewey

I am ready to formally embark on a reading adventure I’ve been contemplating for a couple of years now. One thing was always lacking: accountability. Now I have you to keep me honest.

Here’s the challenge:

Read one book for every number in the Dewey Decimal Classification System.

If you walk into a library and look at the non-fiction, the books nearly always have numbers on the spine. Those numbers represent a specific subject.

Now, I’m not going to be breaking down Dewey as exhaustively as it gets. For instance, the number 577 represents Ecology. But 577.1234whatever is a subset, a more specific book about a niche within ecology. I’m not going to worry about that.

577 means it starts with 577 and that’s good enough.

So I’m going to read a book for 001 (knowledge), 002 (The book), all the way up to good old 999 (extraterrestrial worlds)

Starting Now

I could probably fill up 75% of the numbers with books I’ve already read, but I’m going to start fresh, right now, and only choose books I read from today and after.

It will take forever, but I think it will be worth it. Sometimes I will certainly have to find the shortest book, or the goofiest, just to survive the math and sciences.

Here are the main benefits I see for myself:

  • Explore subjects I’m not familiar with
  • Combat dwindling attention span with a timeline
  • I really do want to read more non-fiction, even though previous actions do not back that up
  • A fun, ambitious project for the blog

And of course, if I find something truly wonderful, I’ll review it on the blog.

I’ll record it here

Here is the link to the Dewey Reading Project. I pasted the numbers in from Wikipedia. I just couldn’t type it up.

Where you see jumps in the numbers, it means that the classification numbers are no loner being used.

After I read a book, I’ll enter its title underneath the corresponding number.

I’ll put updates to the numbers as I complete them at the end of posts, and also on Twitter and Facebook, if you’d like to follow me there.

And of course, I’d love some company. If you’re feeling manic, impulsive, and curious, jump right in at whatever number you want.


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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Amy Harrison May 19, 2010, 3:29 am

    That sounds brilliant. Looking forward to the updates. 🙂

  • Farnoosh May 19, 2010, 4:17 am

    That sounds very creative. Does it count hat I have read a few books in some of those areas? :)! I am sure everyone has. I am on a purely classics kick right now although after Tolstoy, I am reading Dan Brown’s latest for a shift of focus (not that it comes close to Tolstoy or anything, just to gt over my sadness of finishing Tolstoy)……Good luck and keep at it!

  • Colin Wright May 19, 2010, 4:36 am

    Okay, that’s frickin’ awesome.

    One of those ideas I wish I would have thought of first 🙂

    Kudos to you for taking the leap, setting up the project and preparing to tackle a book on Organizations in the Iberian Peninsula and Adjacent Islands. Sounds absolutely titillating!

  • Mark Cancellieri May 19, 2010, 4:57 am

    Sounds interesting. Good luck with the bibliographies, lists of organizations, material in foreign languages, etc. I know that I couldn’t do it. Or just wouldn’t be willing to do it.

  • Christopher Kabamba May 19, 2010, 5:12 am

    I am in and i am not even thinking!!

  • Todd May 19, 2010, 6:13 am

    Josh, that’s a pretty serious undertaking. There are some categories that induce yawning just thinking about possibly reading them. You’re a stud though, so I’m sure you’ll power through. 🙂

  • ami May 19, 2010, 6:44 am

    You have chosen an honorable quest.

    But is there any possibility that DD won’t last as long as your quest? Do online catalogs use DD?

    • Josh Hanagarne May 19, 2010, 10:55 am

      DD is getting phased out in some places, but even if it vanishes, I’ll still know what it was.

  • Michelle May 19, 2010, 6:59 am

    Dude, you’re nuts. That’s nearly 1,000 books. How many books do you read in a year? How long is it going to take you to complete this project? I’m assuming you’ll be reading fiction during this time as well?

    • Josh Hanagarne May 19, 2010, 10:54 am

      It will take a long time, especially since yes, I’m not about to give up on fiction. I’m currently reading two books a week. Sometimes three, depending on length.

  • Pat May 19, 2010, 8:24 am

    Josh, you have a fun mind! Part way through this project you’re going to have to get a bigger brain bucket you’ll be so crazy smart. I admire you.

    • Josh Hanagarne May 19, 2010, 10:54 am

      I’ll probably lose the info as fast as I input it, but it will be fun.

  • Jessica Marie May 19, 2010, 10:24 am

    Wow. I think I will follow along (and possibly participate although it will take me five years or so.) Does this have anything to do with the former post of Hercules’ Labors?

    • Josh Hanagarne May 19, 2010, 10:53 am

      Good point, Jessica. Maybe it crept into my subconscious:)

  • Joan May 19, 2010, 1:03 pm

    Wow. That’s quite a goal. I know I don’t have the discipline to do likewise, but I may start a checklist (like birdwatchers do) and see what my second half-century total is.

    BTW, you do know it’s “Melvil” Dewey, right? 😉

    • Josh Hanagarne May 19, 2010, 6:22 pm

      Good grief, I’m so embarrassed. I DID think it was Melvin. hahahahahaha…duh.

  • Rhamantus May 19, 2010, 1:40 pm

    This sounds incredibly cool, and I wish I could do it (that makes me a lunatic, I guess!), but all but a couple of our local libraries use the LOC system; I’m not sure how I’d figure out Dewey decimal equivalents from that.

    • Josh Hanagarne May 19, 2010, 6:22 pm

      Where are you from?

      • Rhamantus May 21, 2010, 9:47 am

        I’m from Las Vegas.

  • Tim May 19, 2010, 3:33 pm

    Man, you’re crazy. You’re so crazy.

    I approve of the fact that you have specific ideas for what the output of this project is. It’s not a I’m-going-to-go-do-this-because-I-can projects.

    Thanks for being crazy enough to do it.

  • ashley May 19, 2010, 3:44 pm

    Just found your blog today, and I’m really enjoying everything that I’ve been reading.

    I am seriously considering taking you up on this challenge. I think my first book will be Viktor Frankl’s: Man’s search for meaning (150.19) that I read about in one of your previous posts.

    • Josh Hanagarne May 19, 2010, 6:21 pm

      Thanks Ashley, happy to have you. Start with Frankl, absolutely!

  • Laura Cococcia May 19, 2010, 6:59 pm

    WOW. I love it – you are a power house. I’m following it all, for sure.

  • Joan May 20, 2010, 9:28 am

    I was wondering along the same lines as Rhamantus: what about books classed in LC? It’s not a problem as long as the book has CIP data on the title page verso: that usually includes a Dewey number. Otherwise, one might have to ask one’s Friendly Neighborhood Cataloger to come up with a Dewey equivalent. (Her fee might be as low as a piece of dark chocolate for each number – feel free to negotiate.) Did I mention I’m a cataloger? 😉

  • Courtney May 21, 2010, 6:33 am

    Josh, I’ll join you on your quest for knowledge. Sounds fun. I’ll let you know as I finish a book.