Experts say lifelong learning will help you be happier, earn more, and even stay healthier. In addition, the smartest names from Bill Gates to Elon Musk emphasize that the best way to become smarter and more successful is to read. So what are we doing? We buy a lot of books.
But life is tiring! We intend for many things, but it is possible to realize very few of them. For example, if you look at your library, you will see the books that you bought with the intention of reading, that you could not start or that you could not finish. Does this bother you? Should it?
If you’ve ever read a book, you should! But if you’re reading a book and your reading speed can’t keep up with your buying speed, we have good news for you. Your library full of unread books is not a sign of failure or ignorance, it’s a badge of honor! How Does?
Argument writer and statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb discusses this in his bestselling book, The Black Swan. Taleb shares an anecdote about successful Italian author Umberto Eco’s astonishing 30,000-volume library.
Did Eco actually read all of these books? Of course not. But he surrounded himself not only with his potential, but with more, that is, knowledge that had not yet been acquired. This library constantly reminded him of everything he did not know. It kept him intellectually hungry and constantly curious. Taleb says that a library that is overflowing with books you haven’t read yet can have the same effect on you.
“A library like this is a modest research tool, not an ego-satisfying hobby. In fact, this library should contain much of what you don’t know, such as your financial instruments, mortgage interest rates, and the real estate market. As you get older, you’ll accumulate more knowledge and more books. The number of unread books on the shelves is constantly increasing. “The books will stare menacingly at you. In fact, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let’s call this collection of unread books “Antilibrary.”
An Antilibrary is a powerful reminder of your limitations. Most of the things you don’t know, half-know, or that will one day make you realize you were wrong are here. By living each day with this reminder, you can create in yourself a sense of intellectual humility that encourages learning.
“People don’t write on their CVs what they haven’t studied or experienced, but it would be nice if they actually did.”
Why do you think he thinks so? Maybe it’s because of this well-known psychological fact: The most incompetent people are those who have the least doubts about their abilities and themselves. In other words, they are those who feel that they know a lot about a subject they know little about. It’s called Dunning-Kruger
syndrome. You learn faster when you admit that you don’t know something.
So stop worrying about buying too many books or having a reading list that you’ll never finish after several centuries. All those books you haven’t read are perhaps a sign of ignorance. But if you know how ignorant you are, you are ahead of millions of people.