If you have a lot of nonfiction books, you may be curious about the best way to arrange them. In an earlier post, I outlined the advantages of using a simplified version of the Dewey Decimal Classification system for organizing your nonfiction books.
Very few personal collections contain books in every category. You may be surprised to find 90 percent of your books can be grouped into one specific section. The point is to narrow your collection down more specifically, so you will be able to locate the books effortlessly when you need to find one. An added benefit is the serendipitous connections that can be made when similar books are placed together.
700s Arts and Recreation
This section is where both serious fine arts books go. Hobby arts like macramé and scrapbooking follow the fine arts. And those books are in turn followed by the ones on music, entertainment, dancing, parties, games, and sports.
700-709 Arts and recreation
Inter-disciplinary books that cover the history of sculpture, painting, and decorative art would go in this first category. This would include dictionaries and encyclopedias of the fine and decorative arts as a whole. The 700-709 section also has books on art education, research, traveling collections, exhibits, galleries, museums, and private collections.
Recommended general art books:
- The Creative Conversation: Artmaking as Playful Prayer by Bridget Benton
- Forms of Enchantment: Writings on Art and Artists by Marina Warner
- The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich
- The Annotated Mona Lisa: A Crash Course in Art History from Prehistoric to Post-Modern by Carol Strickland
710-719 Area planning and landscape architecture
Landscape architecture, also called area planning is the design of the outdoor environment for public welfare, convenience, and pleasure.
Landscape architecture encompasses the plans for these designs, technical procedures, water features, and the use of plants for decorative purposes. Structures for landscape architecture, like buildings, fences, and steps; and landscape designs are shelved here too.
Recommended books in civic and landscape art:
- A Landscape and Its Legacy by Dianne Aprile
- Outdoor Living: The Ultimate Project Guide by John English
- Arboretum and Research Forest by Sharon A. Receveur
Architecture is concerned with the exteriors and interiors of buildings. These books may be on structural elements like decoration, foundations, arches, and domes, for all types of buildings: government and civic. It covers religious, educational, and residential buildings.
Recommended books in architecture:
- ABC of Architecture by James F. O’Gorman
- A White House of Stone: Building America’s First Ideal in Architecture by William Seale
- Designing Your Perfect House: Lessons from an Architect by William J. Hirsch
730-739 Sculpture and related arts
Sculpture and its techniques are shelved here, as are books on carving, coins and currency, the ceramic arts, and enamels. It also includes works on decorative work with metals like gold, jewelry, clocks and watches, and armor.
Recommended books in sculpture:
- How to Look at Sculpture by David Finn
- Star Wars Origami: 36 Amazing Paper-Folding Projects from a Galaxy Far, Far Away by Chris Alexander
- The Spirit of Ceramic Design: Cultivating Creativity with Clay by Robert Piepenburg
740-749 Graphic arts and decorative arts
This section is ever-popular and constantly growing.
Books on drawing and comic books, including graphic novels and cartoons are shelved here. Similarly, books on graphic design, illustration, and commercial art go here too.
Decorative arts include folk art, antiques, and handicrafts like woodworking, hand carvings, and papermaking. So do other decorative arts like making greeting cards, egg decorating, calligraphy, heraldic design, decorative coloring, and floral arrangements. Another area of decorative arts is textile arts like yarn preparation and weaving, printing, and producing products like decorative wall hangings and bedspreads.
Interior decoration books, glassware, mosaics, and items made from glass are also covered here. Likewise, furniture and accessories including antique furniture, picture frames and framing, and outdoor furniture finish the section.
Recommended books in drawing and decorative arts:
- The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore
- The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
- Gather & Make: Plant-Based Projects for All Seasons by Genevieve Layman
- A Fiber Artist’s Guide to Color and Design: The Basics and Beyond by Heather Thomas
750-759 Painting and paintings
Compared to the last section, painting is fairly straightforward, covering techniques, equipment, history, and biographies of painters. The use of color in painting, and the use of symbolism, allegory, and mythology in painting belong here. So do human figures, nature, cityscapes, and other subjects have numerous books devoted to them. These books also provide instruction for all sorts of paints such as watercolor, acrylic, and oil.
Recommended books in painting:
- Nature and Culture: American Landscape Painting 1825-1875 by Barbara Novak
- The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece by Jonathan Harr
- Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King
760-769 Printmaking and prints
This is usually a relatively small section that has been shrinking since the digital revolution. However, printing still has devotees. The topics include relief processes like block printing and silk-screen printing. Metal engraving, aquatinting, etching, and forms of prints like lettering may all be found in the 760s.
770-779 Photography, computer art, cinematography, videography
Photography books cover the history of the field and books on how to make holographic images, digital photography, digital art, and cinematography. Specific fields and types of photography like Kirlian photography, monochrome, and outdoor photography have books in the 770s.
Recommended in photography:
- Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan
- Guide to Outdoor Digital Photography: Creating Great Nature and Adventure Photos by Jerry Monkman
- Fierce Beauty: Preserving the World of Wild Cats by Bhagavan Antle
- Strength and Compassion by Eric Greitens
Books on musical forms, the elements of music, composition, and techniques from all over the world are shelved in the 780s.
Musical styles like folk music, country music, blues, soul, reggae, jazz, rock, hip hop, classical, and sacred music are shelved here as well.
The section also contains books on musical instruments– pianos, drums, violins, cellos, lutes, harps, flutes, oboes, bagpipes, saxophones, harmonicas, trumpets, and French horns, to name only a few.
Recommended books in music:
- Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner
- The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by Alex Ross
- M Train by Patti Smith
- Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original by Robin Kelley
- Coltrane: The Story of a Sound by Ben Ratliff
790-799 Performing and recreational arts
Performing arts come first followed by games and sports.
Some performances discussed here are:
- traveling shows
- motion pictures
- animal performances
- stage presentations
- modern dance
Books on indoor games and amusements include those on:
- social, folk, and national dancing
- action games
- card tricks
- war games
- role-playing games
- video games
- games of chance
- card games like cribbage, pinochle, rummy, and poker
Athletic and outdoor sports and games come next. I will mention only a few. First are:
- singing and dancing games (generally children’s games),
- remote-control vehicles,
- pitching games
- roller skating
- American football
- racket games like tennis, squash, racquetball, and badminton
- track and field
Outdoor life activities covered in the 790s include:
- motor racing
- motorcycle sports
There are combat sports like:
Snow and ice sports like:
- ice skating
Aquatic sports include:
Air sports include:
- bungee jumping
- balloon flying
Finally, the equestrian and animal racing sports:
- horse racing
- dog racing
Recommended books in performing arts and recreation:
- Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
- Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet by Jennifer Homans
- Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin
- The Blackstone Book of Magic and Illusion by Harry Blackstone
- Hustler Days: Minnesota Fats, Wimpy Lassiter, Jersey Red, and America’s Great Age of Pool by R.A. Dyer
- Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game by Dan Barry
- Annapurna, A Woman’s Place by Arlene Blum
- Play Their Hearts Out: A Coach, His Star Recruit, and the Youth Basketball Machine by George Dohrmann
- Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
- The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
- Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hellenbrand
- Fast Into the Night: A Woman, Her Dogs, and Their Journey North on the Iditarod Trail by Debbie Clarke Moderow
- The Fishing Handbook: An Illustrated Guide for Anglers by Rob Beattie
Your arts and recreation books are organized
Once you have further subdivided your arts and recreation books, be sure to update any spreadsheets or card catalogs you may have made for them. Part of the joy of having a system is that you will never need to worry about misplacing a beloved book again.
Do you have a lot of these books in your collection? Are there any of these subjects you would like to know more about?