What’s Your Dewey? 152.4 Boredom – a matter of perception

I’m bored… disconcerting but true. I am almost never bored! There is too much to do, to see, to think, to learn. We are used to children and teens being bored… constantly stating the fact, expecting their designated adult to rectify the situation. There are consequently many titles devoted to the ‘meaningful occupation’ of the young. I thought it might be interesting, if somewhat briefly, to see how many ways Dewey approaches the ‘I’m so bored, there’s nothing to do!’ lament. The most obvious response is in the the 790s where you will find titles on recreation.

200 Boredom Busters by Paul Scott aimed at children 8 years old and over, is what you might expect to find in a book designed to keep the young active and busy – the only problem is, while there is a lot to do, it still does not relieve this notion that boredom is some kind of beast to be conquered.

Busting boredom seems a popular theme – it appears consistently across many Dewey areas.  They include Boredom Busters for…  work, students, adults, older people, online and pets. They include activities in craft, the arts, in nature, travel, science and passive pursuits for older people. As such, they travel the Dewey range quite comprehensively. Below are a couple of such titles you can preview:

Boredom Busters for Birds: 40 Fun and Feather-Friendly Toys and Activities by Nikki Moustaki (636) Preview here: books.google.com.au

Busting Boredom with Experiments by Jennifer Swanson (520)
Preview here:  books.google.com.au

Despite all the great boredom busting  ideas an exploration of Dewey provides, there is, nonetheless, a sense of unfinished business with the topic. Fortunately, Dewey  accounts for that too. The 306s include a number of titles that tackle the topic of Boredom from a cultural perspective.

Working on the premise that ‘Life is a game’, Play Anything: The Pleasure of Limits, the Uses of Boredom, and the Secret of games by Ian Bogost looks at the way we engage in play, the rules and boundaries that play creates, and the function of inactivity (non-play time) in everyday life. Bogost tackles the topic from both contemporary and historical perspectives, and from the first chapter insists that anything can be ‘coaxed into releasing meaning and pleasure and joy… no matter how seemingly boring or stupid or meaningless.’ While there are some interesting observations in this book, it still tackles the subject of boredom in the context of doing or not doing, and suggesting ways to capitalise on the downtime. You can preview the book here:  books.google.com.au 

In an attempt to unravel the essence of boredom, I sought other Dewey approaches and that led me to 152.4 where a more scientific (aka psychological) approach is provided.
In The Science of Boredom: the upside (and downside) of downtime by Dr Sandi Mann, the causes and consequences of boredom in our fast-paced modern world are explored. While acknowledging that boredom can have some very negative effects, Mann also discusses how boredom can be a catalyst for reflection, humour or inspiration. According to Mann, we should embrace not avoid it – also according to Mann, we need to invest in device free time to invite it!

Some authors not only encourage us to embrace boredom, but suggest ways we can turn it into an artful occupation – an oxymoron perhaps? Eva Hoffman in How to be bored, encourages the all-too-busy, success-orientated individual, to ‘relish inactivity’ and find meaning in doing nothing – an opportunity to explore the richness of our inner lives.

Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive & Creative Self by Manoush Zomorodi is another title that encourages us to allow ‘our minds wander’ because that is where ‘we do our most original thinking and problem solving.’ In her introduction to this book, Zomorodi states ‘Creativity… needs a push, and boredom, which allows new connections to form in our brain, is a most effective muse.’ The book outlines a program for improving our capacity for boredom. The 7-stepped program includes reviewing digital and media access habits; fakeaction days that are photo-free and when electronic messages are ignored. You can take a look inside here: www.amazon.com

Disappointingly, the crux of my boredom blues  remain elusive in this broad but brief sweep of Dewey. Clearly there is much to say about boredom and clearly there are many approaches to the topic. While I have only skimmed the surface of the topic, I weary of it and can only conclude that boredom is a matter of perception.


What’s Your Dewey? 790s Performance Arts: It’s all just an act after all.

With the Adelaide Fringe launch imminent, we are fast approaching what I like to call the time of Arts Frenzy in Adelaide. The Fringe is followed in quick succession by Womad, the Festival of Arts, Cabaret Fringe and the Adelaide Cabaret Festival… to name a few. The diversity of festivals is often a reflection on the diversity of culture we experience in our communities. Though varied, many festivals commonly invest in the performance arts as an integral part of sharing culture, and the way in which we use or identify with performance arts, is often  simultaneously public and powerfully personal.  A quick browse through the 790s is testament to how driven by individual perspective the topic can be… it depends where the spotlight aims!

Telling Stories: Aboriginal Australian and Torres Strait Islander Performance by Maryrose Casey looks at the historical performance practices of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and how they have adapted and developed as an important medium for cross-cultural communication. Based on interviews and studies of contemporary theatre, this book is a landmark in its field of inquiry.  Telling Stories was the co-winner of the Robert Jordan Prize (Assoc. for the Study of Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies) and well worth a look for insights to our Indigenous performance arts.

Marina Abramovic has been described as ‘the grandmother of performance art’ and Walk through walls : a memoir  by Marina Abramovic (with James Kaplan), tells her  life story and provides deep insights into her five decade career. One of the quintessential artists of the postmodern era, Abramovic has collaborated with stars that include Lady Gaga and Jay-Z. The memoir is both engaging and confronting but maintains a wry humour throughout. A great mix of art and life in book and ebook formats, you can take a look inside here: Random House

The live art almanac. Volume 4 edited by Harriet Curtis, Lois Keidan and Aaron Wright,

draws together writing about Live Art – aka: interdisciplinary, performance-based art from around the world between 2012-2014. Over 40 artists are represented in the Volume, (from Joan Rivers to Wu Tsang to Pussy Riot), with seven themed sections that include High art in low places; Performance under attack; Show me the money and Dearly departed. With a diverse range of practitioners in dance, film, performance writers and digital mediums included, Live Art is  artist-centric and represents the blurring of socio-political cultural expression. A go-to book for ground-breaking performance art with the ‘aim of being a useful resource and an enjoyable read for everyone’ (from the Introduction). Take a quick look here: www.booktopia.com.au

Sticky fingers : the life and times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone magazine by Joe Hagan is drawn from Hagan’s many interviews with Wenner, and tells how Wenner’s drive and ambition captured the youth culture of rock and roll that would last for fifty years.  Featuring  interviews with rock legends (Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Dan Aykroyd, Bette Midler, for example) Hagan captures Wenner’s extraordinary rise to become the voice of popular counter-culture in the’60s to ‘celebrity-culture’ in later years. You can read some reviews here: https://www.joehagan.net/reviews

The Actor’s Life : A Survival Guide by Jenner Fischer.  Best known for her role as Pam Beesly in the acclaimed television show The Office, Fisher shares her insights on what it takes to establish yourself as an actor. With candor and wit, she relates her own 8 year long experiences in the pursuit of work, which began as a naive 22 year old with a theatre degree from St Louis. She provides invaluable advice on how to get the right head shot, what to look for in representation, and the importance of getting out there and just doing something. In this biographical guide for would-be performers, Fischer spells out the rudiments of getting established, using stories from her own experience. The six-chaptered guide includes sections on Getting started; How to find, get, keep an agent or manager and Auditioning, rejection and how to persevere. Easy to read and follow with pertinent quotes and images, you can preview here: www.booktopia.com.au

The 790s feature many gems that cover a full range of performance arts,  and the very act of browsing the shelves – actual or digital – becomes a performance in itself. So…  if ‘All The world’s a stage’, it’s all just an act after all.

What’s Your Dewey? – 370s Education and what we’re learning about it.

It’s back to school for many young Australians this week and for some, it’s heading off to school for the first time or leaving their schooling behind as they move into the ‘adult’ realm of work or further study. Parents and carers trying to steer their charges through this quest for knowledge and accreditation, often find themselves in a state of perplexity about how to best guide their charges through the maze that is education.

It’s clear from all of the literature and all of the research that learning begins at home in the earliest stages of our lives.  Creating a learning environment for the early childhood years is just as important as choosing the right educational facility.
Originally published in Australia, Inspiring play spaces : supporting creativity through open-ended learning environments by Susie Rosback, Natalie Coulson and Sally Featherstone, has successfully changed the way early childhood educators around the world view how we can create environments that foster essential learning skills. Over fifteen beautifully illustrated chapters, the authors present simple, practical and clearly explained ideas that make it easy to create spaces based on four fundamental approaches: Play-based learning; Open-ended playspaces; Access to play equipment and Natural and open-ended resources. A resource in itself for school and home. Preview here: http://www.worldcat.org/


Some families experience rewarding success in creating home learning environments and choose to continue with Homeschooling beyond a child’s school entry age. There are also those families that, for various reasons, have left mainstream schooling to try a different approach. While there is an Australian framework for educating your child at home [ visit: https://www.sa.gov.au ], there is still latitude for diversity.

 Natural curiosity : educating and nurturing our children at home by Lisa Carne provides a warm and insightful view of one family’s move from mainstream to nature-based home education. The book addresses many important educational concerns: children’s rights in education; the use and/or overuse of technology and the problems associated with disassociation from the environment. Easy to read, this biographical approach to homeschooling provides a valuable alternate perspective.


All children have special needs and increasingly, mainstream education is struggling to adequately meet the multifarious and conflicting demands these needs place on our education systems. Many websites, guides, books and support services are available to those who can spend the time to look at length. There are a range of titles in the 370s that address Special Needs Education, specific and general. Two that caught my attention, reinforce the belief that all young people have ‘special needs’ because they are all ‘special’.
Dyslexia is my superpower : (most of the time) : interviews  by Margaret Rooke is a sister title to the bestselling Creative, Successful, Dyslexic. 23 High Achievers Share Their Stories’, (serialised in the Sunday Times). In Dyslexia is my superpower, more than 100  children and young adults reveal their personal tactics for developing confidence and self-belief. They share tips for using dyslexia in creative ways that foster success in school and beyond. The first-hand accounts are thematically organised with accompanying illustrations (including original artworks by interviewees), that present dyslexia in a positive light through the many success stories. Although aimed primarily at children and teens  with dyslexia, an additional section is aimed at those who live and work with dyslexia.



Great minds and how to grow them : high performance learning by Wendy Berliner and Deborah Eyre. An extract from the Preface of this 2018 release reads: No Nobel Prize winner so far was identified as a prodigy while a child and Einstein, who was slow to talk, was seen as a slow learner – described by the family maid as ‘the dopey one’. Combining new and existing neurological and psychological research, the book is designed as a handbook for parents and educators. With the premise that all children and teenagers  are potentially gifted in some way, the book uses simple, everyday techniques to  help guide children in ‘learning to learn’ more successfully, potentially reaching high levels of performance that were previously only associated with the gifted and talented. The nine chapters of the book easily equate with the OECD’s listed skills children need for success in the 21st century, and provide practical steps parents can take to foster these skills. Take a sneak peak here: https://www.barnesandnoble.com


Learning to learn – i.e.  Its not what you learn but how – is widely recognised as the key to lifelong learning and success. Although not a new concept, much has been done recently to reinforce its strategic place in the education of our young people. Many titles in the 370s are aimed at educators and are clearly linked to national curriculum standards. There are also titles aimed at the secondary and academic student but the titles of most interest are those aimed at the perpetual student – aka, the life-long-learner.
How to be a study ninja : study smarter, focus better, achieve more by Graham Allcott is an engaging and attractively designed guide to help students of all ages end procrastination, get tech-weapon savvy and channel their Zen-like calm to harness their focus for learning.  Allcott encourages would-be students to avoid the ‘background noise’ that prevents us from learning productively. The book is split into three sections: Creating the mindset and habits conducive to study;  using this mindset to employ the key tenets of learning; and finally, reducing procrastination and reigniting our natural curiosity for learning. Allcott is the founder of Think Productive,  one of the world’s leading productivity training companies, whose list of clients includes eBay, the British Library and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. A great ‘learning to learn’ tool for the lifelong learner.
See for yourself here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/


So, after browsing the 370s, what  have I learnt? To be the lifelong learner… Make the space, Foster curiosity and Scratch that learning itch!

What’s Your Dewey? – Sizzling Summer – A cool tour of Dewey.

It’s safe to say that Summer brings out our inventiveness, as we seek the best cooling options on offer. Many simply want instant relief – to get through the unbearably hot day (or night), while others take a long term view, acknowledging that the hot weather is here to stay. Anyone not convinced that extreme hot weather is here to stay, need only watch the global weather reports and browse the latest books in the 551.5s that chronicle the changes we are experiencing.

Rather than watch the thermometer rising (which never provides me with a cooling effect), I thought I’d see what cooling ideas are out there and where in Dewey I might find them. There are many ideas out there, from the obvious to the complex. Here are just a few…

Stay safe in the sun
While it may seem obvious, our summer fun-loving ways mean that we want to go to the beach, play tennis, watch cricket or have a barbie in the park. Clearly, not all of us are prepared to stay indoors, so if we venture out, how can we do it safely?
Dress Appropriately
This includes what we wear and what we put on our skin. For those who are handy with needle & thread, scissors or machine, 646 may be a good place to start.
Simply sewn : clothes for every season by  Michiyo Ito is just one example of titles that look at seasonal fashions for the budget conscious, handy seamstress or tailor.
Wear a hat
Still in the 646s but specifically, 646.5 will provide readers with excellent millinery ideas for those who think carefully about what goes on their head!
…and of course – wear sunscreen!
Find shade
Wherever you may be outdoors in summer, it is always a good idea to  find some shade (or bring it with you). If you choose to bring it with you, then camping equipment might meet your needs but if you seek a cool, shady spot to have your picnic, then you may find the 725s (public structures) useful.

Keep cool on the inside
What you put in your body is just as important as what you put on the outside. The 641s will provide many ways you can keep your insides cool, with recipes for cold soups, salads and cool deserts.
Summer treats! : cool snacks for warm days by Cherise Pagano is just one example of easy, cool recipes.
Stay out of the sun
Many of us have air-conditioned cars and air-conditioned homes. Our public buildings and commercial providers also operate from air-conditioned premises. Apart from the concerns this raises with relation to our community’s energy consumption (and therefore its impact on the environment and by implication, climate change), there are also concerns about the way this constructed environment impacts our health.
 636.7 is one area where this topic is explored and Losing our cool : uncomfortable truths about our air-conditioned world (and finding new ways to get through the summer) by Stan Cox suggests some ways in which we can ameliorate the problems raised by living in an over-conditioned world. One way to do this is to make your home as climate efficient as possible and there are may books out there that suggest simple and complex ways to do this – from creating shady gardens with water features (the 710s), for example; Glorious shade : dazzling plants, design ideas, and proven techniques for your shady garden by Jenny Rose Carey…

…to designing or retrofitting your home (with cooling and ventilation in mind) in the 697s.

The eco-home design guide : principles and practice for new-build and retrofit by Christopher Day is just one example.

There is of course the drive to be practical and concise so if you are after a go-to guide then the 613s or the 649s may provide just the right book! How to beat the summer heat: A family guide to having fun and staying safe in summer by Carolyn Stone and Jacinta Carey is an example that is also available on Kindle.
You can look inside here: How to Beat the Summer Heat
Whatever you may choose to do this summer,  just remember there are many cool Dewey places you can look to find suggestions and solutions… and of course, it doesn’t hurt to stay a while in the library and just browse and read!






What’s Your Dewey? – 919.4 Holiday Australian Style

It’s the holiday season so… it stands to reason you may wish to go on a holiday, somewhere different… away perhaps? Of course budget and time may be of consideration, so an overseas trip could be beyond your means. Then there’s the fact that Australia is such a diverse place that travelling within its shores is both attractive and desirable. There are many titles out there highlighting Australian travel, including the ever-popular Lonely Planet series of books. Below are some recent titles available from the library.

Published in 2017, Australia in style: unique Australian travel experiences presents 37 world-class travel ideas from across the continent. Including remote resorts, private islands, working cattle and sheep stations, eco-tours and locations rich in Indigenous history, each experience is presented over several  full-colour, detailed pages with evocative photography. Also explored in these pages are meals inspired by fresh local produce and tips for sourcing ingredients such as fishing for Barramundi.  In all, this is an attractive and tempting read.

Cover image for Australia : top sights, authentic experiences / this edition written and researched by Hugh McNaughtan [and 13 others].

Another in the Lonely Planet series, Australia: top sights, authentic experiences by Hugh McNaughtan [and 13 others], highlights the many activities you can add to your Australian vacation: an aria at the Sydney Opera House, snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef and visiting Uluru are some examples. Included are full-colour images, suggested itineraries and travel tips, budget considerations and cultural insights. It is important to note that this is not a definitive guide and focuses on popular tourist spots. There are many omissions, including the entire state of South Australia. Alternate guides such as the Rough Guide series may prove more comprehensive.

Cover image for Explore Australia by caravan and motorhome / John and Jan Tait.

 As accommodation can be expensive, many who travel in Australia take their accommodation with them! Explore Australia by caravan and motorhome by John and Jan Tait (now in its fifth edition), includes listings for over 1000 caravan parks from around the country. Each listing has symbols to highlight park facilities and the touring section at the front includes suggested itineraries and detailed mapping. In full colour, the book is organised  into 60 double page sections for driving around Australia. Although not comprehensively included, free low-cost camps, dog-friendly parks and public dump points are also listed.

While some take large and high-end caravans and motor-homes with them, other Australian travellers opt for minimalist luggage and equipment. These intrepid explorers look for appropriate, safe and, potentially, serviced campsites. Camps Australia wide. 9: the ultimate guide for the budget and freedom conscious traveller by Philip & Cathryn Fennell is a definitive guide to low-cost camping across Australia. It features verified free camps, caravan parks, national and state parks, community campsites, showgrounds, station stays,  pet-friendly campsites and much more. Camps 9 features Hema road atlas mapping to help readers navigate their journey across Australia, with each  campsite referenced to make it easy to find the perfect place to stay.

For travellers with living luggage, frequent traveller and self-proclaimed ‘pet parent’ author Gareth Brock, presents a curated guide to Australia’s most pet-inclusive destinations. Pets on holiday : the best pet-friendly accommodation, cafes and activities all over Australia features accommodation listings for every state and territory — from luxury cottages to budget-friendly caravan parks and campsites. Each listing features symbols that offer at-a-glance information about pet policies and perks for travelling in every state, including prime destinations such as in the Blue Mountains in NSW, High Country Victoria, Margaret River in Western Australia, Darwin in the Northern Territory, the Gold Coast in Queensland, the Barossa Valley in South Australia, and East Coast Tasmania. The guide also highlights each region’s best places to eat, walk and play that are sure to please owners and pets alike. Also created by Gareth, companion website the Pet Check-in, helps pet owners search, compare and book pet-friendly accommodation throughout Australia while their owners have a holiday.

 Of course pets aren’t the only living travelling companions that need to be accommodated. Most travel guides include information for determining child-friendly destinations but few are aimed at children. The Kids’ Travel Guide – Australia: The fun way to discover Australia – especially for kids (Kids’ Travel Guide Series) (Volume 33) is an interactive travel book that includes quizzes, tasks, colouring pages and a travel diary. It provides children with engaging and interesting facts about Australia while travelling and encourages them to help plan and pack for their journey.  Also available as an e-book, you can get a peek here:  Amazon.com/Kids-Travel-Guide-Australia

Cover image for Changing gears : a pedal-powered detour from the rat race / Greg Foyster.

Finally, travelling may be the pre-cursor to making significant life changes when it takes us out of our comfort zone and opens our minds to new ways of living. Many travelogues are written about such experiences but few tackle the topic in the way Greg Foyster does in Changing gears: a pedal-powered detour from the rat race. Greg and partner Sophie quit their high-powered jobs in Melbourne to  embark on a cycling trip that spans from Melbourne to Cairns (via Tassie). Although completely unprepared for their cycling expedition, they are helped and inspired along the way by the unique and eccentric characters they meet. These include a forest activist living up a tree, an 18th-century woodsman and leaders in the field of sustainability. Filled with humour, interesting people and ideas, Changing gears… is a great companion for the armchair traveller.

So, whether you are heading out on an intrepid Australian journey or enjoying a stay-at-home travelling vacation… with or without living luggage… happy holidays Australian style!