There are benefits to an Antilibrary


I loved this article.  The original is linked above.  I have more than my share of an Antilibrary.  It’s to remind me of what there still is to be learned, I believe.  I don’t usually buy or borrow books that are of topics I am not interested in, so there are more books in my antilibrary than I can fit on my Book stack.


The value of owning more books than you can read

Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love my tsundoku.

  • Many readers buy books with every intention of reading them only to let them linger on the shelf.
  • Statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb believes surrounding ourselves with unread books enriches our lives as they remind us of all we don’t know.
  • The Japanese call this practice tsundoku, and it may provide lasting benefits.

I love books. If I go to the bookstore to check a price, I walk out with three books I probably didn’t know existed beforehand. I buy second-hand books by the bagful at the Friends of the Library sale, while explaining to my wife that it’s for a good cause. Even the smell of books grips me, that faint aroma of earthy vanilla that wafts up at you when you flip a page.

The problem is that my book-buying habit outpaces my ability to read them. This leads to FOMO and occasional pangs of guilt over the unread volumes spilling across my shelves. Sound familiar?

But it’s possible this guilt is entirely misplaced. According to statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb, these unread volumes represent what he calls an “antilibrary,” and he believes our antilibraries aren’t signs of intellectual failings. Quite the opposite.

Living with an antilibrary

(Photo from Wikimedia)

Umberto Eco signs a book. You can see a portion of the author’s vast antilibrary in the background.

Taleb laid out the concept of the antilibrary in his best-selling book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. He starts with a discussion of the prolific author and scholar Umberto Eco, whose personal library housed a staggering 30,000 books.

When Eco hosted visitors, many would marvel at the size of his library and assumed it represented the host’s knowledge — which, make no mistake, was expansive. But a few savvy visitors realized the truth: Eco’s library wasn’t voluminous because he had read so much; it was voluminous because he desired to read so much more.

Eco stated as much. Doing a back-of-the-envelope calculation, he found he could only read about 25,200 books if he read one book a day, every day, between the ages of ten and eighty. A “trifle,” he laments, compared to the million books available at any good library.

Drawing from Eco’s example, Taleb deduces:

Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. [Your] 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. [Emphasis original]

Maria Popova, whose post at Brain Pickings summarizes Taleb’s argument beautifully, notes that our tendency is to overestimate the value of what we know, while underestimating the value of what we don’t know. Taleb’s antilibrary flips this tendency on its head.

The antilibrary’s value stems from how it challenges our self-estimation by providing a constant, niggling reminder of all we don’t know. The titles lining my own home remind me that I know little to nothing about cryptography, the evolution of feathers, Italian folklore, illicit drug use in the Third Reich, and whatever entomophagy is. (Don’t spoil it; I want to be surprised.)

“We tend to treat our knowledge as personal property to be protected and defended,” Taleb writes. “It is an ornament that allows us to rise in the pecking order. So this tendency to offend Eco’s library sensibility by focusing on the known is a human bias that extends to our mental operations.”

These selves of unexplored ideas propel us to continue reading, continue learning, and never be comfortable that we know enough. Jessica Stillman calls this realization intellectual humility.

People who lack this intellectual humility — those without a yearning to acquire new books or visit their local library — may enjoy a sense of pride at having conquered their personal collection, but such a library provides all the use of a wall-mounted trophy. It becomes an “ego-booting appendage” for decoration alone. Not a living, growing resource we can learn from until we are 80 — and, if we are lucky, a few years beyond.


(Photo from Flickr)

Book swap attendees will no doubt find their antilibrary/tsundoku grow.

I love Taleb’s concept, but I must admit I find the label “antilibrary” a bit lacking. For me, it sounds like a plot device in a knockoff Dan Brown novel — “Quick! We have to stop the Illuminati before they use the antilibrary to erase all the books in existence.”

Writing for the New York Times, Kevin Mims also doesn’t care for Taleb’s label. Thankfully, his objection is a bit more practical: “I don’t really like Taleb’s term ‘antilibrary.’ A library is a collection of books, many of which remain unread for long periods of time. I don’t see how that differs from an antilibrary.”

His preferred label is a loanword from Japan: tsundokuTsundoku is the Japanese word for the stack(s) of books you’ve purchased but haven’t read. Its morphology combines tsunde-oku (letting things pile up) and dukosho (reading books).

The word originated in the late 19th century as a satirical jab at teachers who owned books but didn’t read them. While that is opposite of Taleb’s point, today the word carries no stigma in Japanese culture. It’s also differs from bibliomania, which is the obsessive collecting of books for the sake of the collection, not their eventual reading.

The value of tsundoku

Granted, I’m sure there is some braggadocious bibliomaniac out there who owns a collection comparable to a small national library, yet rarely cracks a cover. Even so, studies have shown that book ownership and reading typically go hand in hand to great effect.

One such study found that children who grew up in homes with between 80 and 350 books showed improved literacy, numeracy, and information communication technology skills as adults. Exposure to books, the researchers suggested, boosts these cognitive abilities by making reading a part of life’s routines and practices.

Many other studies have shown reading habits relay a bevy of benefits. They suggest reading can reduce stress, satisfy social connection needs, bolster social skills and empathy, and boost certain cognitive skills. And that’s just fiction! Reading nonfiction is correlated with success and high achievement, helps us better understand ourselves and the world, and gives you the edge come trivia night.

In her article, Jessica Stillman ponders whether the antilibrary acts as a counter to the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias that leads ignorant people to assume their knowledge or abilities are more proficient than they truly are. Since people are not prone to enjoying reminders of their ignorance, their unread books push them toward, if not mastery, then at least a ever-expanding understanding of competence.

“All those books you haven’t read are indeed a sign of your ignorance. But if you know how ignorant you are, you’re way ahead of the vast majority of other people,” Stillman writes.

Whether you prefer the term antilibrary, tsundoku, or something else entirely, the value of an unread book is its power to get you to read it.

Futuristic Library

Futuristic library

I love the photos of this library.  My first thought was of benches in the library.  They are beautiful, but, I have a feeling it would be like the locker room in the gym.  Someone would be sitting on the bench right where the book you need is shelved, just like people in the locker room sitting in front of the locker where you put your belongings.

The original article is linked above.  A lot of the comments went way off topic, so I didn’t include those.

Photos of the New Futuristic Library in China with 1.2 Million Books

China recently opened a new futuristic library that contains a staggering 1.2 million books. If you enjoy architectural photography, Dutch photographer Ossip van Duivenbode‘s images of the library will be a feast for your eyes.

The new Tianjin Binhai Library in Tianjin, China, was designed by the Dutch architectural firm MVRDV to look like a giant eye.

The five-story, 360,000-square-foot library features shelves spanning from the floor to ceiling — many of the shelves double as stairs and seats in the beautifully designed space.

The “books” above the actual bookshelves are actually painted onto the building to look like full shelves that continue up to the ceiling (creating the floor-to-ceiling illusion).

The Tianjin Binhai Library was built in just 3 years and opened to the public on October 1st, 2017.


10 books that never should have been made into movies.

10 books that shouldn’t have been made into movies

I loved this article by Shannon Fleming.  I expanded it out because of the ads in the original article and the fact that it took a long time to load.

I agree with most of them.  The Hobbit?  It wasn’t made into three long movies.  It was the prequel to LOTR which was three books, made into multiple movies.  I have other thoughts about some of the other books, but I am sure they will come out eventually.

Shannon Fleming


It has been my observation that people who read a lot have strong opinions about books turning into movies. I am no exception, so I thought I would share my list with other readers.

1. Angels and Demons.


I find Tom Hanks to be an outstanding actor, so don’t get me wrong here. For anyone who read The Da Vinci Code Tom Hanks did not fit the bill for the description of Professor Langdon. With the casting being so off for that book turned movie, why try doing it again with another great book?!

2. Harry Potter.


Let’s encourage kids to read and use their imaginations, not feed it to them on a silver screen platter!

3. The Hobbit.

How do you turn a 300-page book into 3 movies? And then make it so dark and disturbing! The Lord of the Rings Series was awesome, leave it at that.

4. Star Wars 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, and 9.

George Lucas said he wasn’t gonna do it. And not one of them has been nearly as epic as the originals. Episode 7 was just an updated CGI version of Episode 5!

5. Gone With The Wind.

It took 6 hours to sit through the movie. At that point, pick up the book! And has anyone even sat through the entire thing since the 80’s?

6. Jurassic Park.

How many more times can you jump on the dinosaurs are extinct, no they aren’t, yes they are bandwagon? And by the way, there were only two books!

7. Private Parts.


We all know who Howard Stern is and what he looks like. Did any of us need to see him naked?

8. The Grapes of Wrath.

The book was well written, an American classic. The subject matter, however, was not movie conducive. Wanna know what life was like during the Great Depression? Watch a documentary. Ken Burns does an amazing series on it.

9. 50 Shades of Gray.


Turns out really bad books make really bad movies. And there’s still 2 more books to go. Yippee!

10. The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy.


Great books turned into a not so great movie. This one definitely needed to be left to the imagination.

Books to movies 2019

These books are based on the website 2019 books to movies but they are backwards and don’t include the photos from the website.  The website took forever to load, so I am listing them.  Please look at the website linked above for further information.  I am hoping to get some of these books read before the movies are released.

All The Books That Are Being Made Into Movies This Year

Get ready for some great new movies in 2019!

There have been a number of high-profile book adaptations in recent years. And in 2019, Hollywood continues to turn to books for inspiration.

This year will bring a slew of popular novels to the big screen, from bestsellers like “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” and “The Woman in the Window” to classic favorites like “Little Women” and “Pet Sematary.” Here’s a closer look at every book you’ll want to read before they come to theaters.

‘The Nightingale’

If you love Kristin Hannah’s works, you won’t want to miss out on the movie adaptation of her critically acclaimed novel, “The Nightingale.” The historical drama follows two sisters who live in France and find themselves caught in up the turmoil of World War II. Michelle MacLaren has been tied to the project as a director, although a cast has not yet been confirmed.

‘The Rosie Project’

The movie, based on Graeme Simsion’s novel of the same name, centers on a genetics professor with Asperger’s Syndrome who goes on a journey to help a young woman named Rosie find her biological father. The project has been in the works for several years, although a cast has yet to be confirmed. 

‘P.S. I Still Love You’

As confirmed in 2018, Netflix is moving forward with the sequel to its smash hit, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” The movie, based on Jenny Han’s trilogy, will reunite stars Lana Condor and Noah Centineo. The team has not revealed a release date.

‘The Secret Garden’

Colin Firth and Julie Walters will star in the adaptation of the children’s literary classic, “The Secret Garden.” The story centers on a 10-year-old girl who is sent to England to live with her uncle after her wealthy British parents die. There, she meets her sickly cousin, and the two children uncover a wondrous garden on the grounds of their manor. Dixie Egerickx (“The Little Stranger”) and Edan Hayhurst co-star in the film, which does not yet have a release date.

‘Native Son’

Like Richard Wright’s book of the same name, this upcoming drama will follow a young African-American man as he comes of age in the South Side of Chicago during the 1930s. The cast features Ashton Sanders, Nick Robinson, Margaret Qualley, Bill Camp and KiKi Layne.

‘All the Bright Places’

Jennifer Niven’s YA hit “All the Bright Places” serves as the source material for Netflix’s upcoming romance drama. The movie chronicles the story of teenagers Violet Markey and Theodore Finch, who meet and change each other’s lives forever, even as they continue to struggle with emotional and physical scars. Elle Fanning and Justice Smith star in the film while Alexandra Shipp, Keegan-Michael Key, Luke Wilson and Kelli O’Hara round out the cast. A release date has yet to be announced.

‘Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats’

The upcoming musical fantasy, “Cats,” will be based on the famous musical of the same name, which in turn is based on T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.” Tom Hopper, who directed 2012’s “Les Miserables,” will helm the flick. The movie will feature a talented bunch of actor-singers, including Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, James Corden, Idris Elba, Rebel Wilson, Ian McKellen and Judi Dench.

‘The Call Of The Wild,’ Dec. 25

Based on Jack London’s 1903 novel of the same name, this film adaptation will follow the story of a domesticated dog named Buck, who is stolen from his California home and sold to freight haulers in the Yukon. Harrison Ford, Dan Stevens, Karen Gillan, Bradley Whitford and Omar Sy will star.

‘Little Women,’ Dec. 25

After making her directorial debut with the Oscar-nominated “Ladybird,” Greta Gerwig went behind the camera again for a new take on the classic Louisa May Alcott novel. The movie will retell the story of the March sisters as they grow up and face love and loss. Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern and Timothée Chalamet make up the cast.

‘The Good Liar,’ Nov. 15

Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen star in this film about a man who deceives a wealthy woman he meets online. When she opens her home to him, he surprises himself by growing to care for her over the years. Bill Condon, who directed the live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast,” helms the film, which is adapted from Nicholas Searle’s book.

‘The Goldfinch,’ Oct. 11

Donna Tartt’s bestselling book will come to life on the big screen, thanks to director John Crowley. “The Goldfinch” follow Theo Decker, who steals an infamous Dutch painting after losing his mother in a terrorist attack in a museum. The painting is the only link he has to his mother, but having it in his possession turns his life upside down. Ansel Elgort will play Theo in the movie, which also stars Aneurin Barnard, Ashleigh Cummings, Jeffrey Wright, Willa Fitzgerald, Nicole Kidman and Sarah Paulson.

‘The Woman In The Window,’ Oct. 4

A.J. Finn’s bestselling thriller will return in movie form this year. The story follows an agoraphobic child psychologist who witnesses a crime while spying on her neighbors. She must then decide whether or not to alert the police. Amy Adams will star in the movie version, while Wyatt Russell, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman, Brian Tyree Henry and Anthony Mackie round out the cast.

‘The Kitchen,’ Sept. 20

Megastars Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss play the wives of three Irish mobsters in this big-screen adaptation. The story, based on Ollie Masters’ comic book series, follows the trio as they take over the organized crime operations of their husbands after the FBI arrests them.

‘It,’ Sept. 6

The first chapter of “It” hit theaters in 2017 and, two years later, the sequel will finally arrive. The second chapter follows the Losers Club into adulthood as they find themselves drawn back to their hometown of Derry, Maine, where they are forced to face their fears. The cast includes Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Isaiah Mustafa and Bill Skarsgård.

‘Artemis Fowl,’ Aug. 9

Kenneth Branagh directs this film based on The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer. The adaptation follows Artemis Fowl II and his trusted bodyguard as they attempt to find his criminal father and restore the family’s fortune by kidnapping and robbing fairies. It will feature a large ensemble cast, including Ferdia Shaw, Lara McDonnell, Tamara Smart, Nonso Anozie, Hong Chau, Josh Gad and Judi Dench.

‘A Dog’s Journey,’ May 17

Based on the 2010 novel of the same name, this sequel to “A Dog’s Purpose” (and a second adaptation for Cameron in 2019!) follows Bailey, a dog who finds meaning through the lives of the humans he teaches to laugh and love. Josh Gad returns to voice the character of Bailey, while Dennis Quaid will return as his owner. Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Kathryn Prescott and Henry Lau have also joined the cast.

‘The Sun Is Also A Star,’ May 1

Nicola Yoon’s popular YA book is also hitting the big screen this year. The story follows the story of two teens — Daniel, the son of Korean shopkeepers, and Natasha, the daughter of undocumented Jamaican immigrants — who cross paths in New York City and fall in love. Charles Melton, Yara Shahidi and Gbenga Akinnagbe star.

‘The Aftermath,’ April 26

Rhidian Brook’s novel centers on a colonel and his wife, who get assigned to live in a house in Hamburg after World War II. Little do they know they’ll be sharing their new home with its previous owners. The movie version will feature Alexander Skarsgård, Keira Knightley and Jason Clarke. 

‘After,’ April 12

Josephine Langford, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Selma Blair and Jennifer Beals star in this film adaptation, based on Anna Todd’s popular novel. The story follows a college freshman whose sheltered world opens up when she meets and falls for a mysterious and magnetic guy.

‘Pet Sematary,’ April 5

Stephen King fans have yet another adaptation to look forward to in 2019. The movie, based on the bestseller of the same name, will star Jason Clarke, John Lithgow and Amy Seimetz. Like the seminal horror novel, the film will follow Dr. Louis Creed, who discovers a mysterious burial ground near his new home after moving his family to rural Maine. 

‘The Best of Enemies,’ April 5

Based on Osha Gray Davidson’s work of historical nonfiction, “The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South,” this film tells the true story of the unlikely relationship between an outspoken civil rights activist and a local Ku Klux Klan leader in 1971. The cast stars Taraji P. Henson, Sam Rockwell, Babou Ceesay, Anne Heche and Wes Bentley. 

‘The Visible Filth,’ March 29

The movie adaptation of Nathan Ballingrud’s novella, “The Visible Filth,” will go by the name “Wounds.” Starring Armie Hammer, Dakota Johnson and Zazie Beetz, the film will follow the story of a New Orleans bartender who experiences a series of disturbing events after picking up a phone left behind at the bar where he works.

‘The Good Shepherd,’ March 22

Tom Hanks and Elisabeth Shue star in the upcoming film, “Greyhound,” based on C.S. Forester’s novel, “The Good Shepherd.” The World War II story centers on Commander Krause, the captain of a U.S. Navy destroyer and the command of an escort force in the Battle of the Atlantic.

‘Three Seconds,’ March 22

Joel Kinnaman, Rosamund Pike and Clive Owen star in this upcoming film based on Roslund and Hellstrom’s international bestseller of the same name. It centers on an ex-con who must go undercover in prison to infiltrate the mob.

‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette,’ March 22

In Maria Semple’s national bestseller, a 15-year-old goes on a journey to find her missing mother and discover more about her mysterious past. The movie adaptation hails from “Boyhood” director Richard Linklater and features a star-studded cast, including Cate Blanchett, Emma Nelson, Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer and Laurence Fishburne.

‘The Knife Of Never Letting Go,’ March 1

Patrick Ness’ 2008 book, “The Knife of Never Letting Go: Chaos Walking,” published as the first in a trilogy, serves as the inspiration for the upcoming movie, “Chaos Walking.” The story centers on the only boy in a city of men, who encounters a silent girl after fleeing from his hometown and sets off an eye-opening journey with her. Doug Liman (“Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” “Edge of Tomorrow”), directed the film, which will star Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Nick Jonas and David Oyelowo.

‘How to Train Your Dragon,’ Feb. 22

The long-delayed third film in the “How to Train Your Dragon” trilogy, loosely based on Cressida Cowell’s book series of the same name, will finally hit theaters in 2019. The movie, titled “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” will follow Hiccup and Toothless as they go on a journey to find a secret dragon utopia. Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Kristen Wiig will reprise their voice roles in the film.

‘The Rhythm Section,’ Feb. 22

Blake Lively, Jude Law, Sterling K. Brown and Richard Brake star in this movie based on Mark Burnell’s book of the same name. The story follows a woman who goes on a revenge mission against the terrorists responsible for the plane crash that killed her family. Director Reed Morano, who won an Emmy for her work on “The Handmaid’s Tale,” helmed the film. 

‘Ashes in the Snow,’ Jan. 11

Though it boasts a different name, this World War II drama is based on Ruta Sepetys’ bestselling novel, “Between Shades of Grey.” It follows a young aspiring artist named Lina and her family, who are forced to emigrate to a remote area of Siberia during the war. The cast features Bel Powley, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Martin Wallström and Sophie Cookson. 

‘A Dog’s Way Home,’ Jan. 11

Animal lovers won’t be able to resist this movie adapted from W. Bruce Cameron’s novel. Like the book, the movie will follow Bella, a dog who gets lost and must travel over 400 miles to find her way home. Bryce Dallas Howard lends her voice to the character of Bella, while Ashley Judd, Edward James Olmos and Alexandra Shipp appear in the movie.