My Many Libraries

Reflections on my personal bibliosphere.

By | Life, Reading | No Comments

One of the best books I’ve read in the past few years is Alberto Manguel’s “The Library at Night”. Manguel writes about the idea of a library from many different angles, arcing from historical to personal and back again: the library as myth, order, space, power, shadow, shape, chance, workshop, mind, island, survival, oblivion, imagination, identity, and home.

I’d like to explore my personal conceptions of a library, starting with the many branches of my own fragmented shelves, digital collections, antilibrary, and beyond.

For me, a library is not a single, central repository, but an array of resources, like overlapping mathematical sets.

I have many libraries:

My personal collection of books, that I keep on several shelves in my apartment. A modest collection, though one I’m proud of, and continually growing as space and budget affords — a few hundred books at present. Read More

My 52 Books of 2015

A third annual catalogue of reading.

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Here are all the books I read in 2015. At the end, I’ve included some comments, reflection, and analysis.

NB: the first # after each book is my initial rating on Goodreads; the second is my more recent revised rating. Years from now these will surely change further!


The ones you shouldn’t miss. I promise these are superb.

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Everyone Needs an Antilibrary!

How and Why to Learn from Books Unread

By | Creativity, Education, Reading | One Comment


It’s a strange word; a strange idea.

I first came across it in Black Swan, where Nassim Nicholas Taleb describes Umberto Eco’s massive library of 30,000+ volumes, many of them unread. These unread books, Eco’s antilibrary, embody the potential energy of knowledge, of books and reading and learning. Their value lies not in what they’ve already taught you, but what they’ll lead you to.

I love this idea. It makes me consider all the things I’d like to read and learn more about, and makes tangible how I might get there, slowly converting books from unread to currently-digesting to internalized, always adding more to my shelves as I explore the adjacent possibilities of my interests.

Why You Need an Antilibrary

You probably already have an antilibrary. Whether you have books piling up in corners of your home, or lists of “someday reads”, if you’re anything like me you always have more books in your peripheral vision than you have in front of you or under your belt.

This collection of books you know of, but have not yet read — your antilibrary — is tremendously powerful. It’s a window, a record, a goalpost, a fount of stimulus. It will open doors and take you places, direct and extend your learning.

Here are just a few of the ways thinking about this can be useful: Read More

My 48 Books of 2014

A second annual catalogue of reading.

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Alright then — I’ve taken the liberty of listing out every book I read in 2014. Join me, if you like, as I trace my reading through last year’s days and weeks and try to learn something from it about how and what I read.

First the list itself; then some brief reflection and analysis. (Also: you cancompare with last year’s list here!)

Books and lists and lists and books. Seriously, what’s better? Read More

My 56 Books of 2013

A first annual reading catalogue, slightly belated.

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Here you go: the books I read in 2013. Not just my favorites, but all of them — a nice soul-baringly comprehensive good-bad-and-ugly list.

True, this is a year overdue; I hope you don’t mind. I found it helpful to compile, partly to give me a point of comparison for my 2014 reading list (which I’ll post shortly), and also because books and lists are inherently fun.

First, the list itself; scroll below for accompanying bits of reflection. Read More