Library or antilibrary

Library or antilibrary? Going through Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan another time, I stumbled across this inspiring quote at the beginning of the book:

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."

Why do I blog this? mostly two reasons for this on a sunday evening:

  1. Because it highlights to what extent books and resources like the one shown on the picture above (some of my books, including weird comics) can be seen as TOOLS. Mostly for researching insights, ideas, methods over the course of projects. Even comic books and awkward booklets have a role in research projects I conduct.
  2. As a reminder to avoid the fear of having stack of un-read books here and there. It's sometimes menacing but reassuring at the same time (still some material to peruse). The importance of the "un-read" is in direct correlation with possible discoveries and new vectors. I often randomly take one of the books and look at it (be it read or unread) and adopt two strategies: quick scan OR focus on one page and deeply explore what is said.