The anti-library—What a long reading list can teach you

I was intrigued by the title of this recent Fast Company article—“Why you should surround yourself with more books than you’ll ever have time to read.”

I can relate. At any one time I will always have a much longer reading list than I’m able to get through, and yet I continually pile on more books than I can ever possibly read. I almost feel guilty when I add more books to it.

Rather than thinking of a long reading list as a bad thing, the author in this article describes the concept of an anti-library—a list of unread books that serves as a humble reminder of what you haven’t learned yet. This quote from the article summarizes the concept:

An antilibrary is a powerful reminder of your limitations — the vast quantity of things you don’t know, half-know, or will one day realize you’re wrong about. By living with that reminder daily you can nudge yourself toward the kind of intellectual humility that improves decision-making and drives learning.

My anti-library right now has about 17 electronic and at least 3 hard copy books in it. I’ll continue to plug away at reducing the size of it every day. But instead of despising and constantly fighting with it, I’ll keep it as a daily reminder of all the things I still have left to learn.