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Dewey Decimal Challenge: Book 6: Unbelievable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory by Stacy Horn (the 100s)

22 Feb

Well, I’m a week late, but we’ve finally made it to the 100s–a favorite nonfiction section of mine. The main classification is Philosophy & Psychology, which can be broken down into the following ten divisions:

  • 100 Philosophy & psychology
  • 110 Metaphysics
  • 120 Epistemology, causation, humankind
  • 130 Paranormal phenomena
  • 140 Specific philosophical schools
  • 150 Psychology
  • 160 Logic
  • 170 Ethics (moral philosophy)
  • 180 Ancient, medieval, oriental philosophy
  • 190 Modern western philosophy

Metaphysics! Humankind! Paranormal phenomena! Ethics! Yeehaw!  The 100s are for the thinkers, the dreamers, the skeptics, and the believers.

Unbelievable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory by Stacy Horn (130 HOR)


The book that I have chosen this week deals in the paranormal and is written by Stacy Horn who is a frequent contributor to NPR, which I listen to regularly. I was very much looking forward to reading this book, and I was not disappointed. It has everything from data-driven extrasensory perception research to first-person accounts of poltergeists to the investigation of reincarnation through hypnosis. There is a lot to mull over here.

The story of the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory is really the story of J.B. Rhine, a man who devoted his life to the scientific study of ESP (extrasensory perception) and related phenomena. Rhine’s single-minded approach to studying the paranormal was often different from his colleagues. While other scientists were eager to take on cases of hauntings and chaos-creating poltergeists, Rhine would only study phenomenon that he felt could be most easily replicated and tested in his laboratory. Hence, the lab’s four main areas of study: telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis. You might balk at the idea of this phenomena being easily replicated, but you’d be surprised to learn that Rhine did have indisputable successes in his study of ESP particularly statistics that confirmed telepathy, however weak.

One of the more heartbreaking chapters in this book highlights the letters from everyday people that were received by the scientists at the Duke laboratory throughout the decades. These letters were often from people desperate to communicate with lost loved ones as well as from the mentally ill who were desperate for respite from unknown forces.

I would recommend this book though I believe that Mary Roach does this subject matter better in her book Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. Fortunately, you can read both without any detriment!

Happy reading!

-Written by Sharlene Edwards, Senior Children’s Librarian

Click here to read past posts about Sharlene’s Dewey Decimal Challenge!

The Graphic Treatment: Non-Fiction Graphic Novels for You to Check Out

15 Feb

One thing that I’ve really enjoyed since becoming a fan of sequential art books (aka graphic novels; aka comics) is the discovery of non-fiction stories told in comic form. Just as with typical non-fiction books, there are non-fiction graphic novels on every topic imaginable.  From the history of beer (The Comic Book Story of Beer: The World’s Favorite Beverage from 7000 BC to Today’s Craft Brewing Revolution by Jonathan Hennessey) to the American Civil War (Battle Lines: A Graphic History of the Civil War by Ari Kelman) no topic is too big or small for the graphic treatment.

El Deafo by Cece Bell


The first non-fiction graphic novel I recall reading and enjoying was Cece Bell’s El Deafo. This book is for children but I think anyone would enjoy it. Bell recalls what it was like growing up hearing impaired. She imagines herself as a superhero who, with the help of her hearing aids, can hear people speaking in other rooms. But it can be lonely being different and Cece’s story will resonate with many.

For more graphic biographies try:

The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded by Jim Ottaviani


Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir by Stan Lee


Michael Jordan: Bull on Parade by Wilfred Santiago


Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi


Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman (a classic!)


The March series (Book One, Book Two, Book Three) has won numerous awards since its debut including the 2016 National Book Award.  It depicts Congressman John Lewis’ first-hand account of the Civil Rights Movement. Although I’ve read several books on the subject, this series helped me to truly understand how astonishing the movement was.


Although it’s short, and cannot possibly cover everything about Hurricane Katrina, Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans by Don Brown still revealed some facts that I did not know, or that I had forgotten about the devastating event. The brief, stark narration and dialog convey the confusion, anger, and sadness in the storm’s aftermath.


But maybe you’re looking for something a little more fun? Check out Human Body Theater: A Non-Fiction Review by Maris Wicks. Described as “The all-singing, all dancing anatomy extravaganza”, this book presents scientific information about human anatomy with easy to understand and humorous illustrations and dialog.


The library also has books on The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation and The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation, both by Jonathan Hennessey, and Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation by Michael Kelly.

And if none of these topics interests you, but you’d like to read something else in graphic novel format you can drop by the library to browse our non-fiction graphic novel section to see everything that we have!

-Written by Kim Iacucci, Young Adult Librarian

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