So many books to read, so little time.

Two favourites and a question

with 8 comments

Fabius Maximus Cunctator

Recently I have bought a highly interesting 1941 Flammarion edition of Montaigne`s Essais which has been in the library of a well known German noble family (inscribed 15.9.1941, family exlibris stamped in). The pages have, however, not been cut as is necessary with many French books of that period.

I ve meant to buy the Essais in their original French for something like 20 yrs, but I have never done that until 1 month ago or so. So where do we categorize books we always wanted to buy but didn `t ? Imaginary antilibarary ? What do you think ?

Another book I didn t buy that day, Mme. de Stael, De l`Allemagne. Well, there aren`t many people interested in that sort of book nowadays and it will probably added to my bulging shelves on my next business trip to that place or via mail order from that shop later. Again, is it part of my AL already ?


Written by fabiusmcunctator

October 16, 2008 at 7:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

8 Responses

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  1. I consider even books that I don’t own (but want to read) part of my Anti-Library.

    If you can read the original French, more power to you. I can speak some basic Arabic but I have always struggled with language.

    Adam Elkus

    October 16, 2008 at 11:02 pm

  2. “I consider even books that I don’t own (but want to read) part of my Anti-Library. ”


    I liked the color terminology: Gray library.

    Books you own are dark gray, books you know you want are regular gray, books you have heard something about are pale gray … .

    Lexington Green

    October 17, 2008 at 4:25 am

  3. Sounds good! I’ll get that going!

    Adam Elkus

    October 17, 2008 at 5:44 am

  4. AE / LG

    Very interesting indeed. And scary. My (physically present) antilibarary is 1.50 m (5 feet approx.) in length at least. Dark grey wd be, well maybe 10 m (8 or 9 yards). I shudder to think what light grey wd look like.

    I do not trust translations much. So I am lucky to be able to read English, French, German and Latin (prose only). Spanish and/or Italian wd be big plus and probably Russian, too.
    You re certainly right in using the term power in this respect. I ve worked at it a bit though I am actually fairly lazy, and, well I ve got a lot out of it for every minute I invested.


    October 17, 2008 at 7:33 pm

  5. I own about 4,000 books. I have read fewer than half of them. I have a list of books I know about from reviews, recommendations or citations in books I have liked. That list is a 300 page Word document, probably 12,000 or so titles.

    The books I own already are more than I can reasonably expect to get through in a normal human lifespan.

    I have to agree with Alberto Manguel, that you have books around because you want them and will look at them opportunistically. You cannot beat yourself up about not reading each one cover to cover as if it were an eat-your-peas sort of thing.

    Lexington Green

    October 19, 2008 at 3:23 am

  6. LG

    Fully agree that there is no “must read” in a man´s library.
    My library is quite large though not nearly close to yours in numbers and contains many books of reference anyway. However, I try to organise it more in the direction of a quantum library (H/T Zenpundit) i.e. I try to concentrate my buying on books I`ll read at least a couple of times.
    I discard or avoid buying books which I ll read only once, preferring to get them from a library or whatever. The reason: mobility/ ambition, I have to go where my work takes me.

    There are, of course, books I should have read already. One recent example is Carl Schmitt “Die Diktatur” 1923 which a German-trained lawyer should have read and which is now getting some coverage via our transatlantic colleagues (in re 9/11 and the financial crisis) as well. Well, at least I won t have to buy it – got it already.


    October 19, 2008 at 8:50 am

  7. LG : Jesus christ! 4,000? How’d you categorize ’em. Methinks you beat Frederick the Great.


    October 24, 2008 at 5:50 am

  8. Books were more expensive and hard to come by in Frederick’s time.

    They are organized by major topic, e.g. US history, US military history, British history, General Military History, Various countries such as China, France, Germany, etc. Also, Fiction, what might be called literary non-fiction including travel books. I pretty much know where everything is.


    October 24, 2008 at 5:05 pm

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