Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Random Shelf: Nonfiction

My agenda for Nonfiction Random Shelf picks will be a little different. I know the nonfiction section well enough to know what subjects are shelved along the shelves; it would be too easy to "skip over" certain sections. Instead, I am randomly selecting a book from each Dewey Decimal section.

The 000s-100s are a funny bunch. In this section, you'll find books on books (bookmaking, bibliographies in book form), books about libraries, encyclopedia collections, almanacs, fun facts books, philosophy, and books on the supernatural. Several days ago, I randomly picked Seeing the Unseen in the Exploring the Unknown series. Carl R. Green and William R. Sanford give clear definitions and examples of clairvoyance, ESP, precognition, and famous psychics such as Nostradamus.

I've never been very interested in these subjects, so much of this was new to me (although I did know about Abraham Lincoln's dream about a presidential assassination before his own assassination). There isn't an overt bias in this book-there are plenty of examples of predictions gone wrong. Although the writing is casual and not very technical, the presentation is, unfortunately, not very attractive. Everything, from the text to pictures, is in black and white, which makes for a dull presentation. However, if you need basic information on this topic, you can't go wrong with this book.

If you're familiar with the DK Eyewitness series, you know that the Eyewitness books are anything but dull and unattractive. Books about religion and mythology are housed in the 200s, and happily, I landed upon DK's Bible Lands. The reader is treated to gorgeous examples of jewelry, clothing, architecture, and the like. You'll also learn about the various kingdoms and people that lived during Biblical times, such as the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Israelites, and so on. You'll also learn about archaeological evidence of the Bible, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, and illuminated manuscripts. Although there have been many imitations of DK's Eyewitness series, few supersede its design. Bible Lands is just as excellent as the other books in the series.

(I obviously skipped the 000s. That will be corrected in a future post!)

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