08 November 2017

Unread books

"Knowing a book’s relationship to other books often means you know more about it than you do on actually reading it... we also forget a very large percentage of the books we have actually read, and indeed we build a sort of virtual picture of them that consists not so much of what they say but what they have conjured up in our mind. So that if someone who hasn’t read a book cites nonexistent passages or situations from it, we are ready to believe that they are in the book..."
Excerpted from an essay by Umberto Eco at The Paris Review (in turn excerpted from Chronicles of a Liquid Society).

Photo: The Oberlausitzische Library Of Science (Gorlitz, Germany).

"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."
From Brain Pickings, again citing Umberto Eco.

 Image from Lost in Translation, via Brain Pickings.


  1. Speaking of books, here's a link that may interest you. This woman is asking people to submit the first sentences from English-language novels (also short stories, etc, including self-authored ones) in order to train a neural network to write first sentences of novels. At latest count she has over 5000. I submitted a few, avoiding the most famous authors and also avoiding anything that opens with dialogue. I understand contributions can be made until approximately the end of the month.

  2. i have piles of books, books that i have read. i find it hard to part with them. i doubt that i will re-read them. there they remain, in piles.


    1. partial reason for keeping those read books is: 'oh, you gave me so much pleasure reading you, i cannot bear to part with you.'.



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