The Power of Unread Books: Building an Antilibrary for Personal Growth


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 23, 2023

4 min read


The Power of Unread Books: Building an Antilibrary for Personal Growth


In a world where the pressure to constantly consume information is prevalent, the idea of building an antilibrary has gained attention. Tsundoku, the Japanese word for the habit of acquiring books but leaving them unread, highlights the potential power of these untouched resources. Lebanese-American scholar Nassim Nicholas Taleb introduced the concept of an antilibrary, emphasizing that it is not merely a status symbol but a valuable research tool. By understanding the value of unread books and embracing the unknown, we can tap into the limitless possibilities of personal growth and discovery.

The Value of Unread Books:

When we read a book, we gain knowledge and insights from its contents. However, in comparison, unread books hold even more potential value. These untouched volumes represent unexplored territories and untapped wisdom. By collecting books that pique our curiosity, we curate a highly personal collection of resources that can fuel our intellectual growth. Much like a research tool, an antilibrary becomes a source of inspiration and a gateway to new perspectives.

Embracing the Unknown:

Scottish scientist James Clerk Maxwell once remarked that "Thoroughly conscious ignorance is the prelude to every real advance in science." This sentiment holds true beyond the realm of science. To truly grow and discover, we must step out of our comfort zones and embrace the unknown. By expanding our antilibraries with books on unfamiliar topics, we expose ourselves to new ideas and perspectives that can challenge our existing beliefs and broaden our horizons. Embracing the unknown is the key to unlocking new avenues of knowledge.

The SECI Model of Knowledge Dimensions:

The SECI model of knowledge dimensions provides a framework for understanding how knowledge is created and shared within organizations. This model sheds light on the process of converting tacit and explicit knowledge into organizational knowledge. It consists of four stages:

1. Tacit to Explicit (Externalization):

Externalization involves the process of articulating and publishing tacit knowledge. By externalizing tacit knowledge, it can be shared and communicated effectively. This can be done through various means such as writing, speaking, or teaching. Externalization allows for the development of factors that encapsulate combined tacit knowledge, enabling its transmission.

2. Explicit to Explicit (Combination):

The combination stage involves organizing and integrating different types of explicit knowledge. This can be seen in activities such as building prototypes or creating comprehensive documentation. By combining explicit knowledge, new insights and innovations can emerge.

3. Explicit to Tacit (Internalization):

Internalization occurs when explicit knowledge is received and applied by an individual. This process often involves hands-on learning and practical application. As individuals internalize explicit knowledge, it becomes part of their personal knowledge and can contribute to the overall knowledge assets of an organization.

4. Tacit to Tacit (Socialization):

Socialization is the process of sharing tacit knowledge among individuals. This can occur through interactions, discussions, and collaborative activities. Socialization allows for the exchange of tacit knowledge, fostering a collective learning environment and promoting the discovery of new knowledge.

Actionable Advice:

1. Curate your antilibrary based on curiosity:

When building your antilibrary, focus on themes and subjects that genuinely pique your curiosity. By selecting books that genuinely interest you, you create a collection that reflects your personal growth and intellectual journey. Embrace the unknown and explore topics that challenge your existing knowledge.

2. Take notes and make references:

As you read books, make a habit of noting down relevant references and sources mentioned by the authors. This will create a valuable resource list for future exploration and research. By keeping track of references, you can delve deeper into specific subjects and expand your understanding.

3. Seek recommendations from fellow readers:

Knowledge is a process, not a possession. Engage in conversations with fellow readers and ask for book recommendations. By tapping into the insights and experiences of others, you can discover hidden gems and expand your antilibrary with diverse perspectives. Embrace the collective wisdom of the reading community and foster a humble relationship with knowledge.


Building an antilibrary goes beyond amassing a collection of unread books. It is a journey of personal growth, intellectual curiosity, and discovery. By understanding the value of unread books and embracing the unknown, we open ourselves up to new ideas, perspectives, and opportunities for learning. The SECI model of knowledge dimensions further highlights the importance of knowledge creation and sharing. By incorporating actionable advice such as curating based on curiosity, making references, and seeking recommendations, we can enhance our antilibraries and continue to fuel our intellectual growth. So, embrace the power of unread books and embark on a lifelong journey of knowledge and self-discovery.

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