Topic: Reading

Antilibrary

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.

Above is my favourite part of Nassim Taleb's The Black Swan. As I read, my to-read list gets longer, and longer. So, what better thing to do than create an antilibrary for everyone to use. Below are in no particular order, and I update the list frequently, so check in often.

Antilibaries are as important as what you've read. It isn't what you know that gets you in trouble, it's what you know that just ain't so.

This list is my way of focusing on what I don't know, so I can become what Taleb calls:

an antischolar — someone who focuses on the unread books, and makes an attempt not to treat his knowledge as a treasure, or even a possession, or even a self-esteem enhancement device — a skeptical empiricist.

Antilibrary

  1. Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas Piketty
  2. Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, by Rene Girard
  3. Traction, by Gabriel Weinberg
  4. Droidmaker, by Michael Rubin
  5. Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro
  6. The Genius of Birds, by Jennifer Ackerman
  7. Deep Thinking, by Garry Kasparov
  8. The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben
  9. Ulysses, by James Joyce
  10. Paper, by Mark Kurlansky
  11. Karl Marx, by Gareth Stedman Jones
  12. String Theory, by David Foster Wallace
  13. Draft No. 4, by John McPhee
  14. Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, by Robert M. Sapolsky
  15. The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg
  16. Beyond Religion, by Dalai Lama
  17. The Spiritual Brain, by Mario Beauregard
  18. Incognito, by David Eagleman
  19. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks
  20. River Out of Eden, by Richard Dawkins
  21. Your Network is Your Net Worth, by Porter Gale
  22. Monster Loyalty, by Jackie Huba
  23. The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro
  24. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  25. The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell
  26. A History of Western Philosophy, by Bertrand Russell
  27. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
  28. The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov