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