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Jan Johnston

book reviewer

Recent Stories

Check it out: Wonderful journey marks Dewey tour's end

By Jan Johnston December 28, 2014 6 a.m.

It's the last Sunday of 2014, and I think it is appropriate to end the year with the final stop on the "Wonderful World of Dewey" tour. As you sit at home today, ruminating about the last 12 months, or perhaps gearing up — mentally, that is — for 2015 and all it has in store for the world, this fact cannot be denied: We spend a lot of time thinking about time. Of course, this is especially true right now, what with a shiny new 2015 about to boot out old, wrinkly 2014; but, in general, humans expend large portions of brain power musing about past, present, and future events.

Check it out: Dewey 800s are the literary mecca

By Jan Johnston December 14, 2014 6 a.m.

If I could make the newsprint in this column resound with the flare of a trumpet fanfare, I would totally do it. Why? Because it's time to salute the grand ol' 800s on my "Wonderful World of Dewey" tour!

Check it out: Pearl Harbor heroism will never be forgotten

By Jan Johnston December 7, 2014 6 a.m.

Today is the 73rd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I was going to write about the 800s, the next stop on my "Wonderful World of Dewey" tour, but I felt it was more important to acknowledge the incredible sacrifices made by the veterans of World War II. I'll return to the Dewey tour next week where you'll find out why I think the 800s are the best (and most important) call number area in the entire collection. Yes, you read that right: the entire collection. Also, I'll reveal how the 800s play such an important role in the fiction collection (consider this a bit of a teaser: if reading about Dewey call numbers causes a great sense of anticipation, the 800s are a whopper!).

Check It Out: Book on composting important, features many good tips

By Jan Johnston November 16, 2014 6 a.m.

Skee-diddly-do! I've reached the 600s in my wonderful world of Dewey tour! Why am I so happy about this particular Dewey Decimal area, you ask? Well, gee, maybe it's because this section includes important topics like medicine, business, parenting, gardening … and, oh yeah, COOKBOOKS! Now, that's something to cheer about! The ironic thing is I'm not really a cook. A few simple dishes here and there, just so I don't forget how to turn on the stove, but, in general, the kitchen is not my favorite hangout. But give me a cookbook filled with pretty photographs and yummy recipes, and I'm as happy as a clam in a bowl of chowder.

Check it out: 'Animal Records' brings 500s to life

By Jan Johnston November 9, 2014 6 a.m.

Did you know that snow leopards are excellent long-jumpers, with one dextrous cat officially recorded as leaping over a ditch 49 feet 2 inches wide? Or that three species of horned lizards can squirt blood from their eyes, sometimes as far as 47 inches? And were you aware that the Stichopus variegatus, a species of sea cucumber found in the Philippines, can be up to 40 inches in length and 10 inches in diameter? If you're a "fact and number" kind of person, you'll probably find the 500s — the next stopover on the Dewey itinerary — a worthwhile section to browse.

Check It Out: Language rules in enticing ways

By Jan Johnston November 2, 2014 6 a.m.

Welcome to November! Goodness, where does the time go? Halloween is over, Christmas is looming (less than two months away — zoinks!), and 2014 is sporting a long, gray beard in preparation for its final exit. Life moves quickly; but rest assured, the "wonderful world of Dewey" series still has many fascinating stops to make. Of course I'm assuming that shining the spotlight on the Dewey Decimal classification system is as fascinating to you as it is to me. Well, no matter; let's soldier on to the next call number category — the very international 400s.

Check It Out: Data on death made engaging

By Jan Johnston October 19, 2014 6 a.m.

Ah, the 300s. Not sure what I mean by "the 300s?" For the past several weeks, I have been taking the reader on an abbreviated tour of the Dewey Decimal classification system. The journey has really just begun, with brief stops in the 000s, 100s and 200s. Now it's time to tackle the 300s — very broadly known as the social sciences section. Not that the other Dewey areas aren't impressive in scope, but there's a lot of stuff packed into this particular call number. How much? Well, here's a list of sub-categories: sociology, anthropology, statistics, political science, economics, law, public administration, social services, education, commerce, and customs and folklore. Whew! And the sub, sub-categories go on for much longer, so I think you can see that a boat-load of information is docked in this area. Speaking of boats, transportation falls in the 300s, so yes, you can find books about boats, too. Ahoy!

Check it out: A deeper look at beliefs, rituals

By Jan Johnston October 12, 2014 6 a.m.

The Dewey Decimal classification tour continues this week with a selection from the 200s — the call number area for material about religion.

Check it out: Folkloric advice for a happy home

By Jan Johnston October 5, 2014 6 a.m.

If you read last week's "Check It Out" column, you may remember that I have decided to take a chronological tour through the wonderful world of Dewey. Starting with the title "Weird-o-pedia" from the 000s, this week I am ready to present a small slice from the 100s — the Dewey class broadly known for works of philosophy and psychology.

Check It Out: Browsing shelves can be an adventure

By Jan Johnston September 28, 2014 6 a.m.

Have you ever just wandered around the book stacks at your local library? I highly recommend browsing, because surprising little gems can pop up in a most serendipitous fashion!

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