Wednesday, 27 July 2011

My Anti-Library

In The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb titles part 1 Umberto Eco's Anti Library and explains that the knowledge we hold is of the less value than the knowledge we do not yet hold. A library should be a research tool and a read book is of considerably less value to the inquisitive and critically minded thinker than those that he has yet to read.

I posted listing the books I had acquired over the festive period and planned to read this year. Well my 'Anti-Library' has grown at an exponential rate since then and as fast as I read my books I am always able to accumulate unread one's faster.

So far this year I have read the following (After last time's messing around I am not putting amazon links to any of these).

  • The Four Hour Body - Tim Ferriss

  • Lights Out - T.S. Wiley & Brent Formby

  • The Vitamin D Solution - Michael Hollick

  • Born to Run - Christopher McDougall

  • The Virtue of Selfishness - Ayn Rand (Second time)

  • The Plan: 12 Months to Renew Britain - Douglas Carswell & Daniel Hannan

  • The Revolution: A Manifesto - Ron Paul

  • How to Win Friends & Influence People - Dale Carnegie

  • The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins (Second time, though first time I didn't finish it)

  • Anime & Philosophy - Joesf Steiff & Tristan Tamplin

  • Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Aron Ralston

  • Eisenhorn Trilogy - Dan Abnett

And currently I am reading

  • Rights of Man - Thomas Paine

  • Necronomicon - H.P. Lovecraft

Despite clearing 12 books already this year my 'Anti-Library' continues to grow and the books menacingly stare on from my very much overcrowded bookshelf.

This has been in part thanks to my realisation of the wonders to be found in second hand book shops, charity shops and car boot sales. In the past 2 months or so I've picked up the following second hand.

  • The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

  • The Bourne Trilogy - Robert Ludlum

  • War & Peace - Leo Tolstoy

  • Focaults Pendulum - Umberto Eco (who's anti-library is considerably larger than mine at 30,000 books)

  • Down Under - Bill Bryson

  • Notes from a Small Island - Bill Bryson

  • A Short History of Nearly Everythin - Bill Bryson

  • A History of Western Philosophy - Bertrand Russell

  • The Rise & Fall of The Third Chimpanzee - Jared Diamond

  • Long Way Round - Ewan MacGreagor & Charlie Boorman

  • My Booky Wook - Russell Brand

  • Great Mambo Chicken and The Transhuman Condition - Ed Regis

  • Chaos - James Gleick

  • The Art of War - Sun-Tzu

  • PsychoDarwinism - Christopher Baddock

  • Tongues of Conscience: War & The Scientists Dilema - R.W. Reid

  • Science & Humanity - F.B. Welbourn

  • On The Side of Life: The Ethics of The Future - Tomot Om

The last three books were random finds in a second hand bookshop in Winchester. Science & Humanity had it's price on the rear cover in shillings!!

All of these books represent knowledge yet un-obtained and I look forward to reading, critiquing, learning and feeling emotion from books.

Edit 5/08/2011 - Lunchtime I picked up three more books second hand

  • The Emerging Mind - Vilayanur Ramachandran

  • Super Crunchers: How Anything Can be Predicted - Ian Ayres

  • Being & Nothingness - Jean-Paul Sartre


  1. My anti-library could beat up your anti-library (300+ books, though I only own a fraction of them)

  2. I wasn't aware of that site, Damn!! Thats an anti-library!! Thanks for the link.

    Actually mine is considerably bigger than that if I include my list of books I don't own. I've just kept a word file though which I add to every time I see a book I want to read, then when people ask me what they should buy me when they want to get me a present I print it off and tell them something off this list. I've turned into the weird guy who takes photos of books in my local Waterstones. Save's me trying to remember any new books I see and like the look of.

  3. Haha, I'm the same way... "What do you want for your birthday?" "Books or money." "You're no fun..."

    good luck with your erudite adventures.