Filed under dewey decimal project

Dewey Decimal Project: 391.6 YAL A History of the Breast

The 390sNewImage comprise “Customs, etiquette and folklore” which had a lot of books about fashion at my local library. I’m not that interested in fashion, but breasts, on the other hand, struck me as something worthy of spending a book reading about.

Yalom writes here about how breasts became eroticized in eroticized in Western culture, which is an interesting statement in itself as it’s easy to forget that the eroticization of the breast is culturally determined and not a human universal. 

Perhaps most interesting is how Yalom manages to uncover what is at best an implicit narrative in cultural history considering such things as depictions of the breast in art to find the story.


Dewey Decimal Project: 381.45 MIL Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption

The 380s: NewImageCommerce, Communications & Transportation. I was tempted to read something about trains when I got here, but then I spotted this, a book about bookselling (with an implicit critique of capitalism in its title!). As my dream in life has been to retire into bookselling, I thought there could be no better option for this part of the Dewey Decimal project.

Written while Amazon was still a niche business and e-books were a perennial solution in search of a customer base, this is still a fascinating time capsule as independent bookstores underwent assaults first from mall bookstores then chains (with Borders and Barnes & Noble being the big bads of this era of bookselling). 

As guardians of culture as well as participants in commerce, booksellers have long been in a somewhat unique place in society and Miller makes a good case for her dubbing booksellers as reluctant capitalists. Even so, it’s startling to see how many business practices that seem like common sense, even to my distinctly non-business-oriented mind, were resisted by the bulk of booksellers. But given the fact that there are few other businesses which have such a broad and thin inventory (the only other instances that spring to mind are also culturally-oriented businesses: the record [sic] shop and the video [sic] store, both of which, if they still exist today are as anachronistic feeling as a cigar store Indian, although I think I might know where to still find one in Chicago). 


Dewey Decimal Project: 371.782 COL The Bully, The Bullied and the Bystander

By NewImagefar the best book I’ve read as I’ve worked my way through the Dewey Decimal System. Perhaps it’s because so much of what Coloroso writes echoes and is echoed by other books I’ve read on parenting, discipline and teaching, but it appears that there’s a clear consensus on how to deal with these sorts of situations and Coloroso does an excellent job of presenting the information.

The first useful formulation on the whole “don’t tattle” thing I’ve ever encountered:

Tattling: If it will only get another child in trouble, don’t tell me.

Telling: If it will get you or another child out of trouble, tell me.

If it is both, I need to know.

My kids aren’t of an age where this is relevant yet, but it will be and it’s good to have a succinct and cogent description of when telling is appropriate and when it’s not.

The core of Coloroso’s approach is in what she describes as three different kinds of families: The brick-wall family, the jellyfish family, and the backbone family. The brick-wall family is authoritarian in its nature providing a simplistic and harsh approach to things which effectively manages to also be a breeding ground for bullies. The jellyfish family, on the other hand is permissive and tends to have few if any rules and what rules there are may not be enforced. The backbone family is the ideal structure, authoritative rather than authoritative, with authority used as a means of supporting rather than curtailing as with the brick wall family. 

Coloroso’s most contentious assertion is that there are no innocent bystanders. By standing by and doing nothing in a bullying situation, the bystanders act as effective endorsers of the bullying behavior. As an alterative, Coloroso endorses teaching children to “will good.”


Dewey Decimal Project: 364.15 In His Sights: A True Story of Love and Obsession

A while ago, one ofIn His Sights my friends experienced life with an ex-boyfriend stalking her. I actually met him at one point when he came to a church picnic with my friend. I didn’t realize at the time that his presence was not entirely desired by my friend and he came across as charming and attentive towards her. This is all to say that the experience of stalking from the outside is not necessarily obvious. As Brennan herself writes:

But here’s what all the facts and all the psychology can’t tell you: what stalking feels like. Only when you’re in the middle do you know what it’s like being trapped in the manic melody of Boléro, building and expanding, constantly repeating itself, with no apparent release to interminable crescendo.
In Brennan’s case, her stalker has a huge amount of resources at his disposal, both financial and logistical as he apparently has contacts with people who can engage in troubling behavior that he would be unwilling to undertake himself. Overall, this is a brilliant look inside the experience of being stalked, written sufficiently well as to generate true empathy in the reader.

Dewey Decimal Project: 355.0213 JOH The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy and the End of the Republic

This was NewImagea fair amount of familiar rhetoric, and largely things that I agree with (although I’m more positive on trade than Johnson, or many on the far left, for that matter). Overall, though, perhaps because it was so familiar, I found it a bit wearisome of a read, not unlike listening to Pacifica Radio, which should be a fit for me and yet is not.


Dewey Decimal Project: 341.69 LIC The Nazis Next Door

As I dug through the NewImage 40s at the library, I found a surprising number of books dedicated to the O. J. Simpson trial. And while I’ve heard good things about the recent documentary and miniseries about the trial, I also remember the whole circus surrounding it when it happened and I’m willing to take a pass on those But seeing a book with the title, The Nazis Next Door, caught my attention. This sounded like it could be interesting. And it was, although it was frustrating to see how willing the American government was to look the other way when fascism was involved because of their deep-seated fear of communism. So many evils of the second half of the twentieth century in the US can be laid at the feet of that pathological fear.

But what caught my attention even more was a passing mention in the introduction about Jews rescued from concentration camps living in a sort of limbo in European DP camps while some of the Nazis that persecuted them were welcomed into the countries where the Jewish DPs had hoped to emigrate. This passing notion has led to my work on my current novel (and a ridiculous amount of research on topics relating to DP camps, concentration camps and the end of World War II and has left me with frequent concentration camp dreams (alas, dreams to abstract to be useful fodder for the novel).


Dewey Decimal Project: 331.886 STO Red Chicago

I have a greatNewImage affinity for Marxist communism, and it hasn’t lost its strength despite the fall of the Russian-led communist countries. And while I had a small amount of sympathy for the Soviet-style communists, I could see that even taking into account Western propagandizing (and yes, there was a fair amount of this happening), the Soviet system was far from successful. Reading this book, I found myself growing increasingly frustrated by the fact that the American communist party let itself be set in lockstep with the Soviet leadership to the point of absurdity. Intellectuals were suppressed as being insufficiently proletarian and in service to pro-Soviet loyalty, the party took a number of absurd positions, the worst of which was the support of the Stalin-Hitler non-aggression pact (not to mention the willingness to turn a blind eye to Stalin’s atrocities). It seems clear to me that if communism is to have a future, it cannot be the top-down style of communism that was the end-result of Stalin’s victory over Trotsky (and is still the style of the current incarnation of the American Communist Party), but must be more bottom-up in its organization—more Catholic Worker than Daily Worker, so to speak.

This book does give a reasonably good account of the history and sociology surrounding the Communist Party in Chicago, although I was disappointed in the rather short shrift given to the various ethnic branches of the party which were in many ways the lifeblood of the party in the 1920s. My father has a picture of his mother as a member of the Karl Marx Singing Society, and this sort of thing is almost completely ignored leaving me to wonder what other interesting aspects of Chicago Communism were also left out of the book.


Dewey Decimal Project: 320.509 ARE Hannah Arendt

Looking overNewImage the shelves gave me ajada with all the conservative nonsense books. Seeing the combination of Hannah Arendt and Julia Kristeva on the spine of this book left me feeling that there might be some hope after all for the 300s.

This is a biography of sorts, but one really focusing more on Arendt’s life of the mind than anything else. I knew only a little about Arendt before reading this book and seeing her placed in the context of philosophy and twentieth-century history. Learning her connection with Heidegger and her German origins was illuminating. Kristeva managed to be just the right author to write this book.

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Dewey Decimal Project: 317.3 PET Unlocking the Census with GIS

Sometimes in thScreen Shot 2017 02 04 at 19 55 10e Dewey Decimal project I end up with bad choices. In this instance, the 310s are statistics. There were a couple of almanacs and this book. Then, for added bonus, I lost the book while I was reading it. I ended up buying a used copy in excellent condition to finish reading it. The library still charged me for the lost book with the return of the replacement copy, but they were kind enough to not charge me the restocking fee.

The book itself is interesting, but has the flaw that it was geared around 2000 census data and the technology available at the time. 

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Dewey Decimal Project: 306.235 FLA Girl Land

As the father of a young daughter aNewImagend a member of a family which went 59 years without a female birth before my daughter’s birth, girls are a bit of a mystery to me. No sisters, no nieces, and only a single female cousin who was over a decade older than me so I knew her more as an adult than as a girl.

Reading this book was a bit of an eye-opener for me. The central thesis was one that should have been obvious for me: The development of sexual maturity in a girl as she becomes a woman marks a social and physical threat to the girls, particularly from men.