Antilibraries Are the Better Libraries

Here’s how they can accelerate your learning.

Eva Keiffenheim
Age of Awareness
Published in
3 min readJul 2, 2021


Photo by Pickawood on Unsplash

Do you ever feel guilty about the book staple you haven’t read? Polymath Nassim Nicholas Taleb says you shouldn’t:

“Read books are far less valuable than unread ones.”

Yes, you read it right. The pages you haven’t studied indeed add value to your life. Here’s why.

Antilibraries protect you from ignorance

When you just read a few books in your life, you’re likely aware of what you don’t know. But once you’ve read through some hundred books, you tend to become ignorant.

You might be too confident, too sure, and less aware of the things you don’t know. That’s where antilibraries come into play.

The books you haven’t read (and will never read) assemble your antilibrary.

They represent unknowledge and are the best cure for overconfidence. Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes:

“A private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool.”

Antilibraries help you overcome the biggest enemy

The illusion of knowledge — the things you think you know — is learning’s biggest enemy. The authors of the learning bible ‘Make it Stick’ write:

“The illusion of mastery is an example of poor metacognition: what we know about what we know. Being accurate in your judgment of what you know and don’t know is critical for decision making.”

Stuart Firestein, professor of Biology at Columbia University, adds an important point:

“We know a lot of stuff but of course there is more stuff that we don’t know. And not only is there more stuff that we don’t know — but the more we know, the more we increase the amount of stuff we don’t know, because there was all that stuff that we didn’t know that we didn’t know before. […]

An image I always like is of a circle of knowledge — but as the circle grows, as the diameter increases, so does the circumference that’s in contact with all that darkness outside the circle of light — that ignorance.”



Eva Keiffenheim
Age of Awareness

Learning enthusiast, TEDx speaker, and writer with +3M views | Elevate your love for learning with my free, weekly Learn Letter: