The thoughts, stories and advice of Bill Riddell.

Anti-Library

March 1st, 2009 Posted in advice, personal, writing

Most of us have a library of some variety. It’s a bookshelf or similar were we store all the books we have read and whatever other knick knacks you can fit in it. I have one of those, but I also have an anti-library.

A what?

An anti-library. Quite simply its a smaller bookshelf that holds all the books I own that I haven’t read yet. But there is a little more too it than that. It’s a rather simple system with quite a number of benefits.

First of all it allows me to visually distinguish between what I haven’t read and the books I have already enjoyed. This allows me to see them pilling up and inspires me to keep reading, also ensuring I never run out. The books to be read don’t get neglected amongst my regular library and I stay motivated to keep reading.

Rather than reading the book as soon as I buy it I wait till I’m in the right frame of mind to start it. At times I go on a non-fiction binge and will not pickup a fiction book for some months, then the tide can swing. On other occasions I desire to read a motivating memoir or great travel story, I know I have a few of those books sitting ready on my shelf to chose from and read. I can pick up the book I want to read right now rather than waiting for an Amazon delivery or trying to find the right thing in a local bookstore.

Sometimes a book will sit in the anti-library for 6 months or even a few years. Usually its more like a few months. I might pick it up, read a few chapters and then put it back for a while. Just last week I began reading Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. The book had sat on my shelf for just over a year – but I’m now very much enjoying the incredible 900+ page tome .

Having the backlog of reading material means I don’t hesitate to get rid of a book. If it is not enjoyable or I’m not learning anything I ditch it. If I didn’t have an abundance of replacements I am more likely to persist with a book that I’m not really enjoying.

Also it allows me a break from when something is getting a bit heavy and or tedious. Taking a break from a serious non-fiction book (as I did with The Power of Now and recently with the similar brilliant Success Built to Last) by reading a light hearted travel book or some engrossing fiction can keep you from ditching a heavy book that has some great lessons.

My anti-library also serves as a bedside table. It’s a two tier bed-side shelf that at present has about 20 books in it, plus 3 others currently in progress. Amongst the two shelves of books to be read I also keep my journal, a small dictionary and thesaurus and a small atlas – all quite handy to have near by. On the top I have a lamp for reading, notepad and pen for when inspiration strikes in the middle of the night and taking notes from what I am reading.

So now you have a little insight into my reading ways, perhaps you can satisfy my curiosity. What is your library and reading routine like?

How many books are in your library? Do you read more than one at a time? Are you primarily a fiction or non-fiction reader? Do you take notes as your read, or perhaps mind maps once your done?

  1. 5 Responses to “Anti-Library”

  2. By Starsailor on Mar 2, 2009

    Good post, and an interesting idea- might have to steal that one for myself.

    Enjoy Shantaram, I read it a couple of years ago, it’s an amazing story. Makes me want to do a trip to India at some stage.

    I read everything under the sun, fiction and non-fiction. Unfortunately though, I don’t really learn as much as I should when I’m reading non-fiction as I’m too lazy to ever take notes.

    I also read at a ridiculous pace which maybe means I don’t absorb as much as could!!!

  3. By Make Money Online on Mar 3, 2009

    LOL, i thought anti-library is a person who is against library, stupid me. I rarely read, need to start to improve vocab and word depth. I like reading romantic books like Message in a button and murder mysteries like James Hardley Chase.

  4. By Tim on Mar 3, 2009

    I do this too, awesome.

    I am in the process of making one of these to put in my room for all the books I haven’t quite gotten around to reading yet.

    http://www.instructables.com/id/Inverted_Bookshelf/

  5. By Bill on Mar 3, 2009

    Thanks for the comments guys.

    Almost finished Shantaram, just awesome. I’d recommend it to everyone. The size could be a bit intimidating (900+ pages) but its such a great read you don’t notice. Incredible story.

    Sometimes Star you can find good summary notes on the net. Just Google the book title in quotes and then ‘summary’ or similar. Should look like this (“4 Hour Work Week” summary). The notes probably wont highlight the key points most relevant to you but it is better than no notes.

    Tim that shelf looks awesome. I think I’m going to have to make a bigger shelf soon, my main library is almost full.

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