The Top 5 Books in my Anti-Library

We all know about those books that we ‘should’ read.

You’ve seen the various lists:

I’d say that a lot of these are covered in most High School English classes.

The teachers over at my high school (go Mustangs!) did a good job of covering quite a range of books, poems, and plays. And while I probably didn’t appreciate it at the time (my dislike of people telling me what to do and read was strong even then) I do now.

Someday I’ll make another post that covers my absurd love of lists of books. You should see my Pocket account. It’s where I pulled those lists from in about 30 seconds. I love lists of books almost as much as I love books.

Enter The Anti-Library


While so many people love to look at the lists of books they have read. I get almost as much pleasure thinking about the books I haven’t, the books that are still to come on my reading list.

Thankfully, I read the vast majority of books via my Kindle app (I’m new school like that). But if I didn’t, there’s no doubt I’d be the poster child for tsundoku.

via AbeBooks
via AbeBooks

If the Japanese come up with a word for “tsundoku via mostly digital devices” let me know.

The fact of the matter is, I know this list, my ‘anti-library’ will always be far longer than the books I’ll ever be able to read.

I came across the term anti-library from the incredible Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings blog (seriously, subscribe, it’s awesome).

You can and should read the post via the link above, but the central gist is something that was taken by writer Umberto Eco as highlighted by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

From her post:

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 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 anantilibrary.

When I first saw this, I immediately fell in love with the idea.

A library full of books I haven’t read?

via Giphy

I knew I had to make a list.

So, here we go.

My Anti-Library Reading List


Moby Dick


I feel like being a born and raised New Englander I should have covered this one by now, about a crazed captain chasing a whale across the oceans. Plus one of my favorite books by Nathaniel Philbrick, In the Heart of the Sea (the movie isn’t a fraction as good as the book), served as the real-life inspiration for Moby Dick.

Pride and Prejudice


I know, I know, someone has to take my woman card away from me for this one. I’ve seen the movie, and the mini-series, and Bridget Jones Diary, obviously. I know what happens. I know Jane Austen is a writer for a modern woman and Pride and Prejudice is the perfect place to start her collection.



This book has been on my list for a few years now just because I’ve heard so much about as being totally mind blowing. A fellow reader who I respect greatly told me it was the best book he’d read in 2015. The positive reviews for Sapiens I’ve seen online and read about recently have only increased my desire to read it.

Autobiography of Malcolm X


The 1960s was an incredibly fascinating time in US History that I’ve realized I know far too little about. Recently, I’ve been more and more into learning about the Civil Rights movement (highly recommend John Lewis’ March Trilogy). And while we hear a lot in history about MLK Jr., I’d love to see it from the perspective of Malcolm X too.

The Origins of Political Order (And Political Decay)


Ok, I lied, this is technically two books, but The Origins of Political Order and Political Order and Political Decay are really just extensions of each other. Since these books are a hefty commitment, I’ve put off on reading them. But with the recent election going on, they are back at the top of my anti-library list. (You can also listen to him on the Ezra Klein podcast).

Your Anti-Library


There’s no doubt that my anti-library is going to continue to grow, especially as I tick a few of these off my list.

Since I’m always looking for more things to learn, let me know what books are at the top of your anti-library reading list, I’d love to hear a few new recommendations.