Additions to the antilibrary

06D82D56-40B9-4428-BE1A-8DDD05BABF4BI have reduced my active reading stack to one rustic box and one bedside shelf, so more than anything, these posts serve as a virtual TBR. Acquisitions are logged, then shelved, which satisfies both the reader and the neatnik in me.

Elsewhere, folks are discussing an article by Simon Fraser University professor Hannah Macgregor, “Liking Books Is Not a Personality.” The piece is thought-provoking, and the conversation it inspired was terrific, too. My acquisition process has become more stringent with each passing year, and my weeding is rigorous, too. The shelf space is finite, so the volumes in the permanent collection either “spark joy” or serve the antilibrary definition ascribed to Umberto Eco early in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable:

The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have! How many of these books have you read?” and the others — a very small minority — who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market allows 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.

Have you seen this clip of Eco walking through his vast collection?

One thought on “Additions to the antilibrary

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