The Antilibrary

As I was writing the previous post, I googled-imaged “Umberto Eco library” in the hopes to catch a glimpse of those 50,000 volumes.  Instead I came across this, which referenced Nassim Nicholas  Taleb’s The Black Swan, and wanted to share.  If nothing else, may it allay your fears of accumulating too many unread books in your libraries.

The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and non dull. 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 read-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.


10 thoughts on “The Antilibrary

  1. I truly enjoy reading your posts. They are very insightful and interesting to read. Looking forward to the next………….

  2. This is so true. How many times have I wanted to know something and knew the book I needed but didn’t have it handy so missed that opportunity.

    • Absolutely. I think I may deliberately start to build up an “antilibrary.” I’ve always felt guilty buying too many books before having finished those that I already have. Besides, the thought of having a library and antilibrary is intriguing… if the come in contact with each other will they annihilate each other in a burst of gamma rays? Or will they sit across the room excommunicating each other?

  3. Pingback: The Post-Library | Intelligent Life

  4. Pingback: Day 10: A book by my favorite author |

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