Category Archives: Book Review

What’s Your Dewey? 770s Photography – A Thousand Words or Less!

Is ‘a picture worth a thousand words’? Recent research into how we read and interpret information would suggest not. In his article As it turns out, a Picture is Not Worth a Thousand Words, Paolo Gaudiano states:

‘…just as words cannot really turn into pictures, pictures cannot replace words in terms of their ability to convey clear, (mostly) unambiguous information.’
[Full article: ]

Despite this, images as text  are on the increase and visual literacy is now as important to our educational development as digital literacy. This arguably rests with the technical advances in how we produce and reproduce images and the ease with which we are able communicate them widely.

51edvj4bf8l-_sx340_bo1204203200_Photography Visionaries by Mary Warner Marien is a chronological listing of the lives and images of 75 photographers spanning photography’s history from the 1800s to the digital age. Marien provides a fascinating insight into the art and inventiveness of some well known and not so well known photographers who have visually recorded and fashioned our collective view and memories for over 100 years. The imagery represented is captivating and indicative of the medium’s lasting impact. The list of inclusions is by no means exhaustive (and does appear to have a U.S. bias), however, there is great representative, historical detail to be found in the the photographs included.

We rely heavily on our visual interpretation of the world and visual literacy is as much about our world view as it is about what the world presents us.


In Photographs from the edge : a master photographer’s insights on capturing an extraordinary world by  Art Wolfe and Rob Sheppard, the enormity of the world’s diversity and complexity is on magnificent display. Wolfe’s expeditionary photography takes us to all corners of the globe capturing some never-to-be repeated moments in nature and culture. Many of these photographs will always remain a unique part of our visual history, and Wolfe shares the techniques, experiences and decisions that helped him capture them.

51k5mnnywtlWhile Wolfe’s work brings us a sense wonder at the largess of the world,  Macrophotography : capture magnified photographs of nature’s smallest subjects by Dennis Quinn draws us in to look more closely at the things we might miss. This unique book  teaches readers how to choose and use the tools needed to capture magnificent images of the smallest of the natural world. You’ll learn how to select and use your equipment and where to find your subjects. In each section of the book Quin shares the creative secrets behind some of his images as well as providing information on the life cycles of his subjects. This book is a fascinating mix of art and science.

Food photography : from snapshots to great shots by Nicole S. Young takes readers through the principles behind setting up, taking and editing great food photographs. The book contains some  large, vibrant photos, accompanied by expert shooting tips.  To look inside:

With the huge uptake of social media and smartphones, photographic images flood the internet and everyone has become an expert photographer, be it food, nature, fashion or portraiture.

Selfie : the changing face of self-portraits by Susie Brooks looks at the history of self-portraiture from the 40,000 year old hand stencils found in Indonesian caves, to famous painters like van Gogh & Picasso to modern photographic selfies. An interesting blend of stories, techniques and fashion insights into an activity that seems very recently trendy.

With Christmas just around the corner, getting a new camera or smartphone to record the festive celebrations may be on the agenda.

the-digital-photography-handbookNow in its 5th Revised Edition, The Digital Photography Handbook by Doug Harman is still considered one of the best guides to digital photography. The book includes expert advice on the art of digital photography as well as guidance to making the most of your current equipment and software or what to look for when replacing it. A comprehensive book well worth reading for anyone with an interest. Follow this link for a sneak peek:

The 770s also includes Computer Art, Cinematography and Videography, which is handy because the technology seems to have converged with cameras making movies, and editing software turning film into stills. Many words are written on the topic, certainly more than a thousand, so I think I’ll just close with one single picture!
Nola Cavallaro


What’s Your Dewey: 745.5 Recycling – Not Waste But Upcycling

You might expect to find Recycling under 363.7 (Environmental issues) and you will.  Strictly speaking, Recycling as a technology will be found in 628.4. While there are interesting titles in both those Deweys, what really fascinates me are the wonderful ideas that turn ‘junk’ into treasure, usually employing low-tech solutions. A term for this coined in the 1990’s is Upcycling. In a 2010 article in Upcycling is defined as:

A process that can be repeated in perpetuity of returning materials back to a pliable, usable form without degradation to their latent value—moving resources back up the supply chain.

My understanding is a little simpler – I call it ‘making useful and/or attractive things from things at hand’. The best place to find titles on this topic are the 745.5s. Below I have selected just a few to share but there are many, if you care to look.

craftsmartThe Craft Smart series of books is aimed at children and provides step-by-step instruction for 12 crafts in each title. Recycling by Danielle Lowy uses junk mail, bottles, socks, buttons and old ties to make toys, noticeboards, pincushions and jewellery. The instructions are well illustrated, clear and easy to follow – and not all completely ‘for children’.

greencraftGreen Crafts for Children by Emma Hardy is aimed at older children and young teens and gives step-by-step instructions for 35 projects using natural, recycled and found materials. The book is divided into 5 sections with the Recycling section providing 8 projects. My favourite is the felted bag made from an old, well-loved jumper.


Found and made: The art of upcycling by Lisa Hölzl is for teens and aims to arm them with a set of upcycling skills and resources for the future. In its Introduction it says ‘This book is about using your unwanted everyday household trash to make works of art.’ It also makes the point that ‘turning trash into treasured art is more than just recycling because it keeps rubbish out of the waste stream… finding a new purpose for your waste products before you throw them away.’ The book is very useful in encouraging readers to look at all materials in a new way and has some great suggestions worth pursuing.


Upcycling : 20 creative projects made from reclaimed materials by Max McMurdo photography by Simon Brown is a recent publication that is arguably an adult orientated, designer look at upcycling. At the onset, McMurdo points out that upcycling can also be re-purposing, reuse, reclaimed, salvaged, remade, preloved or reinvented. The book makes a good argument for not buying new, apart from the environmental benefits and possibly (though not necessarily) the cost-benefits, McMurdo makes a case for pushing design elements to review the way we create our living environments. Contents include Furniture, Storage & Display, Lighting and Accessories and a useful section on Tools & Techniques. Step-by-step instructions are accompanied by photographs and commentary.

index-aspxReclaim that : upcycling your home with style by Sarah Heeringa takes the view that we can and possibly should surround ourselves with things that have meaning and therefore re-use, re-purpose and redesign the things we love  for long term use. The book has many interesting ideas but anyone seriously wanting to pursue Sarah’s  views on interior design can also access them at her Facebook page

There are so many ideas and thinking outside the box is guaranteed to bring more. Next week is National Recycling Week so in the spirit of ‘waste not want not’ it may be a perfect time to Upcycle some things. I may even revisit the 363.7s and the 628.4s to see what else I can use.

Nola Cavallaro

What’s Your Dewey: 155.5 Too Tense Teens

It’s officially the silly season for teens, that time of year when things start getting desperate. The pointy end of the year where expectations from peers and adults are pressing – homework to be completed, parents to be appeased, social networks to be navigated and phone credit to be reinstated! Some teens seem to cope with minor incursions to those around them, while others flounder, taking any bystanders with them. There are quite a few guides out there aimed at teens and parents of teens on how to cope with the emotional maelstrom, and here is a quick look at just a few titles in the 155.5s  – Psychology, young adult .


A Guy’s Guide/Girl’s Guide to Stress by Travis Clark and Annie Belfield is part of the Flip-it-over Guides to Teen Emotions series that allows teenagers to get both male and female perspectives on the emotional issues that confront them. This reversible book talks about why stress happens and gives easy-to-follow advice that can help teens avoid a complete meltdown. At first glance the book seems dated (published in 2008), with a USA bias, however the offer of a ‘flip-side’ view to teen issues in an accessible format is interesting and reaffirms the idea that stress does not discriminate!

Transforming Stress for Teens, by R. McCraty, S. Moor, J. Goelitz & S.W. Sawyer teaches teens how to use HeartMath techniques to manage emotion and daily anxiety, with an aim to developing emotional resilience. The book describes how emotions can “drain your battery” and provides techniques that help control stress by showing teens how to use their heart-brain connections to regulate emotions. Emotion regulation skills like ‘heart-breathing’, help teen practitioners feel calmer, be more confident and think more clearly, to bounce back from challenging situations.
Follow this link to take a sneak peak inside:

The Anxiety Survival Guide for  Teens, by Jennifer Shannon begins with the introduction You are not alone and you are not to blame, listing the various types of anxiety the book addresses including Panic Attacks, OCD, and Phobias. The book acknowledges that teen milestones such as dating and taking on more mature responsibilities can leave them stuck in a cycle of worry and avoidance. The book uses both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy to help teens identify their ‘monkey mind’ where anxiety is thought to arise.
Follow this link to get a sneak peak:


Strictly speaking, The mindful teen: powerful skills to help you handle stress one moment at a time by Dzung X Vo, is a book about mindfulness rather than teen stress. Also strictly speaking, this is not a 155.5, it’s just a little further along the shelf. However, this practical and engaging guide uses mindfulness-based techniques to help teens keep stress at bay. Simple, memorable tips can be used every day to help ameliorate stressful times, be it at school, home, work or in social situations.  The book aims to help teens uncover their inner strength and resilience to take charge of their lives.

Author Dzung X. Vo, MD, FAAP, (a British Columbia pediatrician and clinical researcher) specializes in adolescent medicine and emphasizes that resilience in young people helps them thrive in the face of stress and adversity. His multi-media material on the topic is available to purchase online and view through YouTube. There is also a Blog site dedicated to teens for teens on mindfulness. You can link to the site here:

There are of course many other titles that help teens deal with the changes and challenges that confront them and they can sit anywhere in Dewey – like teen body image books and teen social media networking books and teen diet books and teen relationships books, to name a few other potential Dewey areas. There are so many (depending on the type of stressor being discussed), that it can be difficult to locate the right title at the right time for your teen – but I’m not stressing about it.


Nola Cavallaro

What’s Your Dewey: 551.5 Whatever The Weather

The weather is always topical, it is the one thing we all have in common although we may experience it in many different ways. Throughout human history the weather has been friend and foe, something to marvel at, to fear, to avoid, to predict and even to change. Much has been written about weather and the 551.5s is a good place to start if you want to read some of it. Below are some titles that stood out for me.

The weather experiment : the pioneers who sought to see the future by
Peter Moore is a chronicle of the 19th-century scientists, thinkers and sailors who battled to understand the weather. In particular, it focuses on Robert Fitzroy (captain of the HMS Beagle during Charles Darwin’s epochal voyage) and his pursuit of  meteorology at a time when it was discredited by the scientific world. To read a detailed book review from The Guardian go to:


Treading on thin air by Elizabeth Austin PH.D. reminds us that the weather is an inescapable part of our daily lives and that our past, present, and future is intimately rooted in weather and climate. The book, which is part memoir, takes us on a journey to the world of weather and climate and how they directly impact our lives.


The sun’s influence on climate by Joanna D. Haigh and Peter Cargill is part of the Princeton Primers in Climate series written for students, researchers and ‘scientifically minded general readers’. The series aims to explain state-of-the-art climate science research. This title covers the basic properties of the Earth’s climate system, the structure and behaviour of the Sun and the absorption of solar radiation in the atmosphere. It explains how solar activity varies and how it impacts the Earth’s environment from long-term paleoclimate effects to human-induced climate change time-scales. A text that is both comprehensive and succinct.

The Weather Makers: The history & future impact of climate change
by Tim Flannery
is widely recognised as a flagship Australian book on the still controversial topic of climate change. Questions Flannery addresses include: What does climate change mean? How will global warming affect our lives? Is it the cause of wilder storms and more frequent drought? Are these events inevitable? The book, which has won a number of awards, has been described as poetic, exciting, passionate and full of knowledge.

Ecosystems at Risk
by Stephen Aitken
is part of the Climate Crisis series aimed at providing easy to understand explanations for what is a very complex topic. In this title the Ecosystem’s vulnerability to climate change is explored through the perspectives of the world’s food web and biodiversity. It describes why islands and mountains are vulnerable and they are indicators of potential mass extinctions. Titles in the Climate Crisis series also include Animal Life, Ocean Life, Plants & Insects and People.


Floods: Be aware and prepare by Renee Gray-Wilburn is part of the Weather Aware series of books aimed at very young children. Titles in the series include Droughts, Hurricanes and Tornadoes. The text and images are readily accessible to young readers, explain how these phenomena form, their effects and how children can prepare and stay safe.


Whatever the weather : science experiments and art activities that explore the wonders of weather by Annie Riechmann and Dawn Suzette Smith.
Cassie Griffin, creator of The Crafty Crow, says about this book:
“Curiosity about weather shouldn’t end with a weather report. Whatever the Weather explores the whys of weather while having fun with creative science experiments, art projects, and activities that the whole family can enjoy.” You can get a sneak peak here:

The diversity of books in the 551.5’s is indicative of the many ways the weather piques our interest and demands our attention. There is, of course, Weather to be found in other Dewey areas but that is simply because it impacts every aspect of our lives, whether or not we’ll acknowledge it…
Whether the weather be fine,
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not.

Additional Sources

Nola Cavallaro

What’s your Dewey? 391 – but is it Fashion?

‘Fffashion… It’s loud and tasteless and I’ve heard it before’ are words from a David Bowie song that have always intrigued me with their apt application to the topic of fashion. 391 covers the topics of Costume and Personal Appearance and clearly, over time, ideas about what is acceptable or desirable attire have changed.

100-ideas-that-changed-fashion100 Ideas That Changed Fashion by Harriet Worsley looks at a range of concepts, styles, accessories, fabrics and eras around the world that have had lasting impacts on our attitude to what we wear and how we look. Nothing is sacred or secret it seems, when it comes to fashion: Holly Madison would ‘rather go naked than wear fur’ – and does; Underwear becomes Outerwear when Madonna ‘struts her stuff’ and ‘sex sells seats’ when Texan Southwest Airlines dresses its hostesses in hot-pants. The history behind the 100 ideas is both intriguing and thought provoking.

whyd-they-wear-that_cvr-336x400Why’d They Wear That? Fashion as the mirror of history
by Sarah Albee is a National Geographic look at costume and fashion throughout key historical periods in the Western world from ancient times to the 20th Century. While the book is aimed at a younger audience and has a USA bias, it is fact-filled with some excellent illustrations taken from both photographic and artistic sources.
lbd-vintage-treasureThe Little Black Dress Vintage Treasure by Didier Ludot is a photo-journal look at the ‘Little Black Dress’ that made its debut in the 1940s but swept the world in the 1960s to become a fashion basic in many wardrobes. The text is brief (only 13 pages) but the black and white photographs and drawings tell their own story about this fashion sensation.
Indigo: In Search of the Color That Seduced the World

by Catherine E. McKinley is the story of the precious dye that has been the centre of many human activities including slave trading, religious and spiritual events and colonial economic history. It is also the story of fashion and a biographical account of those involved in bringing the colour to the world of fashion.

The titles in the 391s are as diverse as the items we choose to wear and have chosen to wear over human history. They include such titles as:
The Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion by Tim Gunn and Johny Miller
Dress Code: The Naked Truth About Fashion by Mari Grinde Arntzen
Fashion Theory by Malcolm Barnard
Hair: Fashion and Fantasy by Laurent Philippon
The Sustainable Fashion Handbook by Sandy Black
Music Fashion and Style by Matthew Anniss
and many, many more. There are books on shoes, bags, fabrics, colours, jewellery, hair, make-up, designers and designs. There are books about why we wear what we wear and how it makes us feel. Then of course, there’s the making of what we wear – but that’s another dewey.

Nola Cavallaro