The Books You've Bought But Have Not Read: The Antilibrary


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Pat Young

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#2
From the article:

A person’s library is often a symbolic representation of his or her mind. A man who has quit expanding his personal library may have reached the point where he thinks he knows all he needs to and that what he doesn’t know can’t hurt him. He has no desire to keep growing intellectually. The man with an ever-expanding library understands the importance of remaining curious, open to new ideas and voices.

Taleb argues that a personal library “should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates and the currently tight real-estate market allow you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.”
 
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#4
Thanks for the link! Very interesting!

My personal library is a few thousand books. I did a census a few years ago and stopped when I hit 2,000. I have definitely not read them all, and I have purchased a lot since then. A lot of them I just like to have on hand because they're oddly specific, and I know if I don't get them when I see them, chances are I will not encounter them again.

But there is also a fair number I have every intention of reading. But I keep not reading them because I come across other books and research interests in the meantime.

Anyway, I'm going to use this badge of honor argument on all my relatives who tell me I have too many books. And the ones who tell me all my books will probably fall on me and kill me one day. :eek:

(I think there are worse ways to go than death by book, personally.)
 
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#5
OMG. I have subscriptions to a dozen plant systematics and ecology journals and I have piled up on the floor somewhere around 100 or so of those journals each bookmarked with articles I intended to read. It just sits there mocking me.
I've hid several of my books--placed their covers face down on a stack--so I don't feel their reproachful stares for neglecting them. I guess I think like a cat. If I don't see them, they can't see me. :cat:
 

Eleanor Rose

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#10
@Pat Young, I have a large "antilibrary." I can't pass up a good title when I see one even though I know I already have plenty at home waiting to be read. :redface:

Anyone ever hate finishing a great book because it's over? I mean I know you can always reread it, but still...

And you're right @Zella, there are plenty of worse ways to go than death by book. :giggle:
 
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#12
And you're right @Zella, there are plenty of worse ways to go than death by book. :giggle:
Have you watched the Naked Gun? I'm afraid to search for it at work, but there's a great scene of Leslie Nielsen's inept character listing all the ways he wants to die. LOL Pretty sure death by book is preferable to ALL his suggestions. :D
 

luinrina

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#16
Thanks for the link, @Pat Young ! I already feel less threatened by the many unread books piling up in my personal library - including the constantly growing pile of ACW books I continue ordering although I know I'm not yet getting around to reading them anytime soon. :laugh: But I intend to. Eventually... :wink: :D

I did a census a few years ago
I have a list somewhere too - should dig it out again and update it with the ACW books. Not sure where my number was last time I looked... :unsure:
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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#18
A man who has quit expanding his personal library may have reached the point where he thinks he knows all he needs to and that what he doesn’t know can’t hurt him. He has no desire to keep growing intellectually.
Or, perhaps, he's collecting books from a specialized field, and they're not publishing new ones fast enough. :wink: Which leads to straying off and collecting all available books in English in (say) the history of the Soviet space program...

I do have unread books on the shelves... not as many on the Civil War shelves as I do on the Ancient Egypt shelves, but they're there. Once upon a time, I had loads of time for reading and research but no money to buy books... now I've basically got the money to acquire nearly any book I want (save for some really rare/expensive ones, but even then they frequently become available for free online!) but don't have the time to read them! :mad: Though I expect that situation will ease as we transition to an empty nest... but we're not quite there yet.
 

DaveBrt

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#19
It is a shame that the word anti-library is used so incorrectly. A library is a collection of books, periodicals, etc., especially when organized; therefore, an anti-library would be an empty space where books, periodicals, etc. are not kept. I cannot imagine boasting of having an anti-library.

My library is in constant churn. I buy, read and (usually) donate to the local library. I only retain those books in my specific interest areas and they change as the interest areas change. I refuse to let money sit unused in books I have no expectation of reading.
 

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