I recently read about Anti-Libraries.  What is an anti-library you ask?  Well, it appears you buy books and put them on your bookshelf, literally your TBR pile.  But- then you never read them.  Never!  And- you keep buying more books to add to this literal shelf that you have no intention of reading. The goal is to have a whole wall of unread books, that you’re never going to read.


Buy books, display them, but use them as just that- decoration?


Now, this whole thing goes against my thinking:

  1. Spending money unnecessarily
  2. Adding clutter to you home
  3. Having things in your home that you have no intention of using (I know this seems like the previous thing, but I assure you it’s not)
  4. Having a long TBR
  5. Not reading books that you bought

How could I ever have an anti-library?

We’re going to try to be open minded.  We’re going to think this theory through with logic.  What’s the purpose of an anti-library?  The theory is that by having a bunch of books right in front of you, it will keep you intellectually curious.  The mere thought of “maybe you’ll get to it one day” or “wow, what an interesting concept” is enough to keep your mind alert.


Unread books that I have no intention of reading are supposed to keep me intellectually curious. Wouldn’t just reading the book make you smarter?  When my daughter needs to learn a subject she reads the books- she doesn’t stare at them, or put them under her pillow to be absorbed by osmosis (though she has tried the osmosis thing).  And when she reads the books, she often becomes “intellectually curious” because she has learned something new and wants to find out more. I don’t think staring at a pile of unread books makes you smarter or more interested.  It definitely makes you less interesting…

Friend: “Wow.  This book on astrophysics of teapots looks wonderful.  What did you think?

Anti-Librarian: Oh, I don’t know.  I thought it would be nice to think about thinking about it.  I’m curious that way.


I could never have a shelf of books that I have no intention of reading.  It would drive me crazy.  I’m always purging.  I also can’t have more than five books on my TBR- if I’m interested in a book, I need to read it as soon as possible.  And even though I don’t have a book shelf filled with books that I have no intention of reading, I still think I’m intellectually curious.  I still want to learn about all sorts of things by reading.  I want to add to my breadth of knowledge by actually participating in things.  I don’t want to be passive. I don’t want to be aggressive either, but that’s a whole other blog.

Was “anti-library” thought up by someone who had a big pile of books sitting in their nightstand and had to come up with a theory for rationalizing the expenditure and clutter?  I’m all for rationalizing- I’ve made it into an art form. But, do we need to come up with a theory to cover up our mistakes, to legitimize them?  That’s the real question.

But as I analyze that point, I’m going to work on my new theory: anti-cleaning.  I’m going to look at the mess and destruction but just keep it there, untouched, because by doing that, my home will actually be cleaner…


82 thoughts on “The Anti-Library

      1. I truly cannot. I have a small TBR stack that causes guilt every time I see it. I might die if I filled entire shelves! Some folks are just beyond my scope of understanding. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      1. A couple years ago I read about the ‘research’ that went into a study to show that better looking women gave birth to girls as opposed to boys…. I want those 10 minutes of my life back! Lol plus I want access to that funding!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh…some of the projects that get funded….my daughter was born at a huge teaching and research facility, so as a baby we participated in a study about if the primary care giver was the child’s first teacher….I mean, seriously?

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I have always hated when designers want to use books as decoration, going as far as grouping them by color or turning the spines inward for a more uniform look. Books are not an accessory they are a necessity!

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Making it more important than the book themselves. I even saw one designer go to a used bookstore to look for certain colors to look good in a bookshelf!


  2. Makes no sense to me, what it reminded me of was someone I knew who had books she never read. When I asked her why she had them and hadn’t read any of them she said ‘ because anyone who came would think she was clever’ 😄

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I’ve no idea what rock I’ve been living under, but I’ve never heard of an anti-library before! To be fair, I do have a rather long TBR list but on the same note college exasperated that length. I had to choose studying and reading for classes than for pleasure. It does dwindle but not at a huge rate like it used to. Still, the majority of the books I own are ones I’ve read; maybe a fourth are ones I haven’t? I’ve never counted out right but I do have a TBR list! 😄

    Liked by 2 people

  4. You named my life-trait!!!! I always thought I just hated cleaning. Now I know I’m an anti-cleaner. Thank you! Thank you!

    I would never buy a book to begin with, because I am pro-library, not anti-library.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. OK. It’s a little more than decor. Have you read Nassim Nicholas Taleb book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable:

    “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 visitors 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 the 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 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.”


    Liked by 2 people

    1. That was basically what the article stated, though not as elegantly. I get that point, but I’m anti anti library….I guess I like knowing these books are out there, but I would go crazy if they were in my house.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I am an active anti-cleaner, so I can tell you that theory works! Those spider webs in the corners are just the beginnings of my Halloween props. They take a really long time and effort to cultivate really good, believable ones. Realism is the key, you know. Those aren’t dust bunnies, those are my pets. Sheesh! Can’t you tell the difference?!

    Seriously?! People do that crap? To me it screams of someone wanting to look like they are way more well read than they really are, an ego boost. I’m like you, I could not stand the waste, both money and space. Because I’m an active anti-cleaner, I can also see them as just more things I need to not dust (one of the many reasons I’ve fallen in love with digital books). But for me the biggest issue has got to be the money. As much as I read and as many books as I want to own, I cannot even begin to justify spending my book money on a book I have no intention of reading.

    Maybe it is a concept that works for non-readers? A form of guilt trip to get them to finally pick one up. One of those things that just cannot, in any way, apply to an avid reader.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love the Halloween cobweb theory! Thanks…I’m adapting that one!! But yeah…who wants more to dust?!? But it’s funny….if you read the r Douglas comment, he quotes a pretty interesting theory

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sometimes I have purchased a book that I “should” read – it’s usually a scholarly work of non-fiction – that I just never get around to. So, there it sits. Unread. Mocking me and my more fictional, frivolous tastes. But, these books do not constitute an “anti-library,” more just a bit of self-delusion.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. No if I have no intentions or reading something I would rather get rid of it to make room for stuff I want to read or just not buy them to begin with. It’s just pointless to have them sitting on the shelf for nothing.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Nope…cannot compute a shelf (or multi shelves) of unread books being a good thing. You stimulate your intelligence by reading said books, not by looking at them and wondering.

    If you feel you must look at books and ponder them to raise your IQ, might I suggest a wander through the local library? THAT will elevate your financial intellect at the very least, as you’ve not spent a ton of money on paper and ink to clutter your home.

    In my personal world…an unread book is packed with potential, but an ignored book is just a sad object.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I don’t understand what their end game is but I look forward to selling a huge collection when we downsize. No more dusting around. I prefer to borrow my books but my husband has a sizable collections. Again, I like to use everything I have. This would not work for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. it’s kind of like buying classics/textbooks/law books, etc. to make you seem super-intelligent … or pretentious. Or to make your “library” look good. I buy books to READ, not to sit around, although I DO have literally tons of books, many of them unread simply because I haven’t gotten to them yet! My TBR list is huge …. but I have reading “moods” …. sometimes I’m just not into another memoir about “city girl meets farmer, falls in love, moves to said farm, and has a hilarious life” … maybe I wanna read historical fiction next, or a serial-killer-murder-mystery. Sometimes I start a book and just can’t get into it for whatever reason …. back it goes to the TBR pile until, after another unsuccessful try, it goes out.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. This concept has been around since at least Regency England (1811-1820), when aristocrats and nouveau-riche ‘cits’ would buy libraries of deceased or gone-broke nobles to fill the shelves of their libraries and make it look like their families had been literate and wealthy for a long time. It was easier to see that none had been read, since some of the pages had not been cut one from the other, which was necessary to do before reading them. One can still buy books by the yard. I just have tons of books I’ll read some day, and some I reread. I am delighted to FINALLY live in an area where there are book sales and a little free library so I can move on plenty of books as i read them and decide they are not for me–

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Who would deliberately do this–buy a book with no intention of reading it? That’s like buying a box of chocolates with no intention of opening it. While I have many books I have bought and not yet read, my intention to read them is still strong–all I need is a few months on a deserted island, with someone to deliver meals and cold beverages while I read the days away.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I will admit that for a while, I would collect books because I was going to get to them later. When I first got my Kindle app, I would go to every free and discount website I could find and buy EVERY SINGLE book that was less than a dollar. Then one day, I counted. I realized I had just bought 50 more books that I might not be able to get to in this lifetime because I had bought that many the day before and the day before that, etc… At last count, I have over 3000 books in my Kindle library. When I moved into this apartment, lots of the boxes were books. Some I had read and wanted to keep because they were great. Some I had read and kept just to say I had them. Some that I needed to read and some that I would never read. My therapist and I talked about my hoarding disorder and we agreed that most of the physical books had to go. Now I just have the ones that are really important to me. And if I get new ones, some old ones need to find a new loving home. But its still really hard. Now I just let the public library hold my book collections.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I have many to read. I get them when I have money for them. I buy a lot used because I can afford them better. And I’m afraid if I don’t get that book soon ,I’ll never be able to find it again.


  15. I have the opposite problem. I have books that have been read that my husband refuses to let me donate. It drives me insane. I will never read them again, and they are just taking up space and cluttering things up.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I’ve not heard of this phenomenon, and I don’t like it! I understand keeping books around that you intend to read/enjoyed reading OR that have antique value even if you don’t read them, but to buy a book just to stare at it… that’s dumb.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. An anti-library is like potential, unrealised—for now! You might realise it, you might not, but it’s there, constantly growing. It’s wonderful to also browse the anti-library once in a while, as a source of self-esteem. “I mean, go me, look at all that potential I’ve got.” Right? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I get that….sort of. Doug tried to tell me that. I’m still going with reading books!! I understand the logic, but I just don’t like it!!😀😀😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I am too! Reading first, collecting last. 🙂 My point was serious too, though. When the mood strikes you, and you realise that in your library you have a certain book that matches your mood, it can be a priceless shortcut, an opportunity to seize on a frame of mind and ride it, making the most of it. Also, a large anti-library allows for a bit more happenstance, akin to browsing a secondhand bookstore. A book may appear in your hands, out of nowhere, after years on your shelf, and just then you feel you might want to try it… and it turns out to be quite relevant.


      2. Very valid points!! I sort of feel that an unread book is lonely. I know it’s sort of weird, but book deserve to be read, and rea$ often…I know…I feel bad for the unloved books!!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh, I don’t know… A book contains a whole world which exists whether or not I read it—a world which is self-sufficient and busy leading its own life.

        Further, any book in the anti-library sits amongst a whole shelf of other worlds, so it’s hardly lonely. 😉

        Further still, any book in the anti-library is a mystery just waiting to happen, and in that sense the unread books draw my attention in a special way because I keep wondering what I’m missing. They’re the unpredictable element in a library—the shadow in the corner or the stranger who will become a friend—they keep the library interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I guess it comes down to my being too cheap to buy books that I won’t read, and that I don’t have the room to keep books. I’m constantly purging…my goal is to own as little as possible…

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Thank you for the wonderful topic! It was stimulating to think about it 🙂

        It’s an admirable goal, owning as little as possible, and one I am able to aim for in everything except for books 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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