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 vistors 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 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 allow you to put there. You wil accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growig 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 the collection of unread books an antilibrary.Ironically this quote comes from the book The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, which sits firmly in my anti library. Here are a few more, of a much larger selection:
Flying the A-10 in the Gulf War - William Smallwood
Walden - Henry David Thoreau
How to make Money in Stocks - William O'Neil
In recent months, inspired in part by my experience at Boyd and Beyond I've been returning to "hard" non fiction. As far as an objective to this goes, it's to start to take myself out of my comfort zone again, to shift from "training" to "learning", in the sense that training is preparation for things which have occurred before and learning is an attempt to prepare for things which have not happened.
The value of the anti library is, to a large extent, to provide an opportunity to create an environment in which learning can happen. It's a personal belief that having an anti library available is something which synthesists (as opposed to analysts) instinctively value. It allows for the mind to make subconscious connections between disparate topics, right or wrong, it's better to have the book and never need it than to not have the book and the knowledge it contains.