"To all those who love to read and learn."

For three years, the author lovingly researched books with one goal in mind: getting people to read something new. A self-described book-obsessed librarian who advocates reading outside one’s comfort zone, Maxie radiates joy when describing the search for knowledge, the value of different viewpoints, and her belief that libraries are “gardens of thought.” Her determined quest to encourage the cross-pollination of ideas through books resulted in almost 2,000 volumes arranged by the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system. Summaries came from methodically scouring sixty-five lists of best books and award winners, dating back for a century, and mining book reviews and publishers’ book blurbs.

In the introduction and each section opener, she demystifies the “peculiar issues” of the DDC so non-librarians won’t run screaming. For example, Literature (800-899) is “art made from words.” Social Sciences (300-399) covers how we “work with one another”, and so includes diverse topics such as politics, racism, law, education, transportation, etiquette, and folktales and fairytales. Natural Sciences & Mathematics (500-599) are paired because math is assumed to be discovered, not invented. “Comic book format” (graphic novels) legitimately occupies call number 741. She encourages readers to dip fearlessly into any DDC category while keeping in mind her “two-chapter rule”: read two chapters, then pause and evaluate. If you don’t like the book “it’s ok to stop.”

A good nonfiction book teaches something new, changes the reader’s perspective, is well-researched and well-written, and has a clear, engaging writing style that the average person can understand. Readers need to look no further than here for a guide that meets its own criteria. Kind and encouraging, Maxie’s well-researched guide to nonfiction will satisfy the bibliophile, autodidact, and incurable browser. This important guide to nonfiction is both a portable public library and a long-overdue love letter to libraries.

A 2023 Eric Hoffer Book Award Category Finalist

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home