Okay this is absolutely blowing up my timeline in the last 24 hrs so I'm gonna bite—

*Now brainstorming: 100 opinions on books & reading*

(1 like = 1 opinion. Max 100. RT if you'd like some hot takes about antilibraries, bookstores, reading habits & more!) https://twitter.com/vgr/status/1205357296714280962
1. Every curious person should be a serious reader. Ever serious reader should build an antilibrary.

(Essential vocab for this thread: your antilibrary = all the books you know about but have *not* read, designating a sort of potential energy for learning / knowledge / reading)
2. An antilibrary should exist in both physical form (books on your shelves; books browsed but unpurchased at your favorite bookstores) and virtual form (in digital lists; in tweets and reviews scanned; in your memory).
3. An antilibrary should have many levels: books you have an urgent desire to read, books you definitely want to read someday, books you find intriguing but may never read, books you've lost interest in entirely

Categorize not only by topic but by priority / importance / status
4. You should add at least 10 books to your antilibrary for every book you actually read.

(This doesn't mean you need to own them all! I mean you can if $ / space allows, but also…keep lists of books you want to read & refer back to!)
5. The more time you spend building your antilibrary, the better you'll get at finding & learning about great books.

And therefore: the better your antilibrary, the better books you'll read. Same time spent reading overall (hrs or books per year) becomes more valuable.
6. Corollary: You should cull your antilibrary semi-regularly.

Maybe once a year, go through your shelves and get rid of unread books that no longer interest you, to make room for more of those that do.

Digital too: clean up your list(s), re-prioritize your queue(s)…
7. Most of the time, taking notes while reading is useless. You likely won't need super specific notes anyway and it distracts from the flow / immersion in what you're reading.

If you really want to come back to something, add a lightweight bookmark to flag for later review.
8. We should all be more aware of (& deliberately apply) the many different levels of reading that exist — the spectrum from close reading to skimming a book quickly for major themes / ideas.

Different books + different contexts demand different approaches for optimal reading.
9. Bookstores are not libraries. Libraries are not bookstores.

They have both more overlap in mission / value, & more differences, than we sometimes recognize.

Both great for book discovery!
Entirely different $ models!
Each w/ diff weird niches!
10. Bookstores should experiment more with weird business models.

Dear bookstores: don't be afraid of things like memberships, charging people admission, etc. If implemented well they won't tarnish your purity or whatever; they just might help sustain the bookstore!
11. More books should be not-books instead. Intentionally, actively unwritten; sketched as potential books. Preemptive Borgesian self-annihilation to make space for the books that author truly should write.

(Different from "books that shouldn't exist". Plenty of those too!)
12. It's very often better to read one really big, long, challenging book, than 10 shorter ones.

If you choose well the long one will be more formative and memorable. Quality over quantity, but given quality, quantity can be its own pleasure!
13. Every reader should regularly conduct a reading diversity audit.

Diverse reading is valuable in many ways, for many measures of "diverse". Being more conscious of what your reading looks like is a good way to counteract unconscious bias / unintentionally narrow reading.
14. Book prices vary a ton. They should probably vary even more. Value of books varies astronomically!

Some books should pay you to read them. Some books could be a good value at $1000.
15. The trick / challenge is that books don't have inherent fixed value. That depends on the right match of book + reader.

So getting really good at telling which books may deliver best value for *you* = reading arbitrage opportunity, get more out of each book than most could.
16. Libraries and ebooks are a match made in hell. Both are really and truly great (!) but putting them together reveals a clusterfuck of weird incentives and structural compromises and unrealized potential that threatens a migraine if you look too closely.
17. There aren't *that* many truly great books you definitely need to read.

While there are infinitely more good books than you can ever read in a lifetime, you can probably get to a surprisingly high portion of those that are both excellent & a good match for you personally.
18. We need more sui generis books — books that attempt to create their own rules, define their own categories, blur all the lines.
19. You should be both more discerning & more guided by serendipity in your reading.

More discerning: have a high filter; add many books to your antilibrary but read relatively few.

More serendipity: seek books from uncommon sources; read books that others frequently overlook.
20. Corollary re: serendipity: you should spend more time in used bookstores!

A truly great used bookstore = a truly great place to discover books you'd never in a million years stumble across in Barnes and Noble or on Amazon or in NYT Books or in recs from friends etc.
21. We should read more books aloud to each other! This practice all too often ends with adulthood. But it need not!

Listening to books read aloud (not audiobooks — they can be cool too — but live direct reading) is a great and special pleasure. As is reading them.
22. If you live in a city you should have at least one favorite bookstore. If a big city, ideally several, new & used & specialty. If you don't have any bookstores near where you live…what better heuristic for planning a move!
23. Book collecting, fetishizing books as objects, is boring. Don't be precious about books!

There are absolutely books you should acquire physical copies of rather than ebooks. Owning many books is great. But should be b/c content demands it, not driven by collecting as an end.
24. Building your "read really big books" muscle is helpful for practicing sustained attention & deep engagement. Living with a text for months on end, whether a particular story or set of ideas, creates a special type of relationship!
25. Book clubs / reading groups are if anything underutilized as a structure for both socializing & for learning.

We should experiment more with social reading formats: tiny emergent book groups, reading retreats, annotation collectives…all kinds of possibilities!
26. Gifting books? Buy ones that you'd actually read too! Time it right & you just may be able to get through them yourself before you wrap and gift them. Like 2 books for the price of 1.
27. Regifting books: also totally fine! Books should have long lives. Exceptions: if you hated a book, just get rid of it quietly. If it's in visibly poor condition, ditto and also please take better care of your books.
28. Every reader should attempt to trace a reading path, history, trajectory of how your reading has evolved over a long timespan.

How has your reading practice shifted?
How have your tastes changed?
How has your antilibrary grown?

All fruitful questions to ponder!
29. Aim to buy at least one book every time you go to a bookstore. It's just…how things are done.

Barring special cases you *probably* shouldn't buy > 10 at once. Write down all interesting ones & add to your antilibrary. Any you can't get out of your head, buy later!
30. More bookstore advice: any book that speaks to you (in whatever intuitively obvious way), and that you haven't come across before, counts as a special discovery and you should buy it right away.
31. I really want to see more experimental bookstores!
A bookstore where you can browse but not buy anything
A bookstore with only a tiny number of books for sale
A bookstore with rotating curated selections
A bookstore-museum hybrid
A bookstore pop-up
A bookstore…
32. When it comes to discovering books, algorithms can only take us so far. We'll *never* have perfect book rec algos b/c so much of what makes a book good ~for you~ is emergent, concerns unknown unknowns, collisions of qualities you'd never know to look for til you find them.
33. If algorithms aren't great for book discovery, what's our best bet? Obsessive manual curation!

Much of this exists but we could use even more — "best books" lists, crowdsourced by diverse readers & experts, at least aspiring to asymptotic approximation of comprehensiveness…
34. One thing we could really use is better, more thoughtful social graphs for books — both a) weighted relationships w/ the people we trust and the things they read and love, and b) graphs of relationships between books themselves, tracing connections, influence, etc.
35. Series' or trilogies are often better than standalone novels. Particularly genre fiction…extensive worldbuilding / long story arc often demand multiple books. Not all authors can handle it, but those who meet the challenge have produced some of the best fiction of all time.
36. There exists no good one-size-fits-all platform, system, or tool for managing your reading. Sure, use Goodreads, or some minimalist book list app…but also, take matters into your own hands: spreadsheets, personal bookmark system, arcane shelf organization — whatever works!
37. Goodreads is broken…but maybe not in the ways you think. Yes, search is janky, social features lacking, etc.

But I think the main problem is it tries to do too much.

Is it for browsing & discovery?
Is it for book / reading tracking?
Is it for social discussion?

Too much!
38. If kitchen-sink book apps are unworkable, what might we dream up instead?

I want a distributed network of powerful single-purpose tools. To track reading: something super customizable. For book discussion: thoughtful spaces. For discovery: niche hand-built lists.
39. The world needs more weird library projects. More independent, extra-institutional, hyper-niche and possibly too-absurd library projects.

Give me libraries large and small. Libraries in treetops and underground. Libraries puerile and profound.
40. You can have an antilibrary for…pretty much anything! We might generalize the antilibrary as negative space for consumption & attention, consciously held.

For me: folders of PDFs, screenshots of online shopping carts unpurchased, saved playlists in Spotify & YouTube…
41. We need more ways, more *interesting* and *substantive* ways, to talk about books.

(Private chats? More randomness? Better ways to find people with shared reading goals? Extremely slow long-term conversation? Antilibrary show-and-tells?)
42. To attack the intractable problem of "too many books!" we need to address both breadth and depth. But somehow being a "T-shaped" reader (omnivorous + deep on one thing) feels inadequate. Better: rich balanced forest ecology, emergent growth, seedlings & stands & undergrowth…
43. There are many book APIs (Amazon, Google, Goodreads, Open Library…) They're all hard to use, missing data, or both. Why?

In some cases, limited by design (e.g. Amazon). More often: data's just not there! Good book data is *hard*; *no one* has it all! Huge problem to solve!
44. Here's a thing we could use: more good ways to share books w/ our friends & wider circles. (Not just recs, the ~actual books~)

Mailing physical books is a pain; sharing pdf / epub files is impersonal, lacks a social element. Community book exchanges? Asynchronous book clubs?
45. You should have a "non-reading practice" — being intentional about not-reading certain books (just as some authors should not-write certain books!)

Abandon more books. Browse many; read few. Choose to engage w/ books & their ideas outside the text itself.
46. Should you carry a book with you everywhere and fill all possible time with reading? Tempting but…no. Pace yourself & read when you can really savor it.

Read whenever, ofc, but "the more the better" isn't true in any absolute sense. Also need time to think, absorb, digest.
47. Related: your reading will ebb and flow. Roll with it.

Some months you won't feel like reading; some weeks you may read all day every day. Only "rules" are very simple, a la Michael Pollan: read regularly, keep it diverse, mostly books.
48. Have you ever done a ~book walk~ i.e. reading while walking? If not I highly recommend!

It's a unique practice: embodied experience, good method for focusing attention, clearly bounded, gives momentum to your reading…also good practice for peripheral vision ;)
49. Here's the best way to do a book walk:

-Pick a good book, one that's easy to get into
-Choose a familiar route, say 30-45 minutes
-Kindle works well: compact & easy to grip
-Stay alert & avoid areas of heavy traffic
-Have a nice time reading & walking!
50. Goodreads' best feature is the annual "Reading Challenge".

It's helpful to track books you've read w/ specific times you read them. And fun to look back and chart your reading progress! (I always set a slightly too-ambitious goal but still end up reading ~50 books / year)
51. The best YA novels are ones any adult can enjoy too. His Dark Materials is the G.O.A.T.

I regret to inform you that the most overrated is A Wrinkle in Time. Great premise but the writing just does not hold up on reread.

[yes…moving into ~specific book~ opinions for a bit!]
52. Best books I've read in the last year:
Underland—Robert Macfarlane
How to Do Nothing—Jenny Odell
Go Ahead in the Rain—Hanif Abdurraqib
Daemon Voices—Philip Pullman
Carceral Capitalism—Jackie Wang
So Many Books—Gabriel Zaid
The Collected Schizophrenias—Esmé Weijun Wang
53. Best books I've read in the last 10 years:
The Moonstone—Wilkie Collins
Moby Dick—Melville
Infinite Jest—DFW
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek—Dillard
Time and the Art of Living—Grudin
Le Ton beau de Marot—Hofstadter
Death and Life of Great American Cities—Jacobs
54. Best books on translation:
Le Ton beau (see above!)
19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei—Weinberger
This Little Art—Briggs
Mouse or Rat?: Translation as Negotiation—Eco

& in my antilibrary:
Into English: Poems, Translations, Commentaries
Writing Through: Translations & Variations
55. Favorite books on learning/education:
Deschooling Society—Illich
Building the Intentional University
Summerhill School—Neill

& in my antilibrary:
Teaching to Transgress—hooks
Pedagogy of the Oppressed—Freire
How Children Learn—Hold
Black Mountain—Duberman
56. I enjoy poetry but I'm not a huge poetry reader. More a poetry listener tbh (give me Kendrick over Keats any day).

I do read a lot though & these are some of the best artisans of language I know:

Annie Dillard
Patti Smith
Mary Oliver
Italo Calvino
Julio Cortázar
57. Oh and here's one of the most impressive poets I'm pretty sure too many of y'all haven't heard of: Christian Bök.

Look up Eunoia & The Xenotext — really remarkable feats of poetic engineering, dizzying experiments, palpably wondrous texts…
58. Top trilogies / series for sheer damn reading fun:
His Dark Materials
Crazy Rich Asians
Remembrance of Earth's Past
The Fifth Season
Six of Crows
Harry Potter
59. Best books on hip-hop lyricism / poetics:
Trick question, there aren't really any great ones! A few anthologies & intro-level primers, but I've yet to encounter the thorough serious study the topic deserves. Maybe top on my list of "damn I may have to write that someday".
60. Authors who are somehow both overrated and underrated*:

David Foster Wallace
Philip K. Dick
Kurt Vonnegut

+ personal favorite often-tedious-or-fails-to-stick-the-ending-yet-still-super-enjoyable author: Neal Stephenson

*not 100% sure what I mean; any come to mind for you?
61. More thoughts re: translation, one of my favorite topics:

We should read more books in translation, demand more translations, buy and support the practice of translation. It's one of the most important & underappreciated facets of the entire global literary ecosystem!
62. Reading should be a daily habit! I try to stay relatively non-prescriptive w/ book opinions, but I believe in reading widely, omnivorously…and reading regularly is one of the best ways to cultivate this. Even 20-30 mins. a night = dozens of books a year.
63. Daily readers: a great simple tool to track your reading is the Mark-My-Time Digital Bookmark.

Tape on a strip of paper & record a month of daily reading; occasionally transfer to spreadsheet. May or may not make you read more but will def keep you aware of the habit!
64. There's no universally great site to link to a given book.

For most people, most books, Goodreads is…pretty good.

For book nerds, these are also great:
WorldCat (pretty comprehensive; UI can be lacking)
Open Library (awesome mission; needs more book data!)
65. There's no one way to organize a bookshelf!

Keep some on deck, nightstand stacks…
Display favorites like trophies…
Group by theme or let randomness reign…
Vertical or horizontal; spines out or in… (jk jk)
Every so often, reorganize just for the hell of it…
66. Important antilibrary-adjacent thing I haven't seen discussed much: the idea of "proxy libraries".

Books you don't possess but have easy access to; between personal collection & vast endless library stacks…e.g. parents' shelves, favorite bookstores, friends' collections…
67. Don't buy a book just b/c it's cheap. It may be in the dollar bin but that doesn't make it a *good deal*.

Rule of thumb: would you still buy at full price? If so, grab on sale if you can! But don't fill shelves indiscriminately; "# of books owned" is a useless vanity metric.
68. I think a fun exercise for all readers: try your hand at outlining a book or two!

What can you not stop thinking about? A story seed or idea you keep coming back to? Even if you have no intention to write it, fun to think about: what *could* your book look like?
69. I want to see more ~reading networks~
Mapping knowledge relationships
Tracing your reading journey
Inter-book resonances
Entangled collections
Visualizing affinities
Non-linear reading
70. Two types of book that are great to read aloud:
1) Gripping novels with strong characters (not too many) & a good dose of rollicking action
2) Direct, powerful language (poetry or prose), not too florid, lucid & lyrical
I suspect Moby Dick would be an excellent choice!
71. In a perfect world all books should be free. But the reality, of course, is that writers need to earn a living.

To this end we should buy lots of books, subsidize writing on a societal level, and support our faves any other way (e.g. patronage / funding experiments) we can.
72. There are many books we should know *about* for reasons other than the story or info (etc.) of the text itself.

Reasons like: important cultural context, influence on future books, significance to people you love… Such books are prime candidates for antilibrary inclusion!
73. Everyone should buy direct from indie publishers.

They make way more $ from each book that way. If price is an issue, they often a) have great sales and b) offer free shipping > a certain total.

AND they often include ebook w/ print book purchase! Can't get that on Amazon!
74. Some awesome indie publishers:

Archipelago Books
Belt Publishing
Graywolf Press
Haymarket Books
Inventory Press
Litmus Press
Melville House
New Directions Books
Paul Dry Books
Seven Stories Press
Verso Books
Wave Books
Zephyr Press

(Not available direct? Check Indiebound!)
75. Fun exercise: brainstorm books you'd "centiread".

In other words: what books do you love so much you'd plausibly read them 100 times? Probably not many! But I think the ones you'd pick — whether for learning, comfort, pleasure — say a lot about you.
76. Should we try to remember what we read?

For the most part: no. I'm not big on memorization or even note-taking-while-reading.

I don't read to acquire knowledge; rather: for pleasure, to soak up fragments, nebulously densify my brain, find unconscious resonance years later…
77. More generally, I'm not a fan of writing in books.

I try not to be precious about books as objects. And this is weird to articulate b/c in the abstract, I think marginalia is really interesting. It's just that for me, in practice, it rarely seems useful / necessary!
78. Has the internet broken our brains? (No, but…) How has technology changed reading? Two quick observations:

1) Hypertext = potential for far more networked, interlinked, nonlinear reading

2) Vastly improved *metareading* — we can learn *about* all kinds of books so easily!
79. Thinking about reading & multimedia…I think both these things are true:

1) Audio = perfectly good & valid way to consume books
2) Listening ≠ reading; medium matters & different ones have different affordances
80. Poetry is best when *felt* — clearly and beautifully rendered, urgent and vital, strongly conveyed

but/and — poetry is best when *meaningful*; it should articulate something important

but/and — poetry is best when *virtuosic*, manipulating words in deft and dazzling ways
81. Best book everybody knows: Moby Dick
Best book nobody knows: Autonauts of the Cosmoroute

Okay latter not strictly true but does have < 1,000 ratings on Goodreads; for comparison Moby Dick has ~450k

(Worst book everybody knows: tie btw The Alchemist & Ready Player One lol)
82. Guess what I enjoy tediously browsing Goodreads data! Here are all my favorite books that have < 100 total reviews:

Table of Forms
The Dynamic Library
Origins of Form
Building the Intentional University
Minding the Muse
The Force of Spirit
19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei
83. Should assigned reading be a thing? Should anyone *have* to read a given book?

Yes and no! Teachers should assign books. But there's no specific book everyone *should* read. All assignments are a bit arbitrary; two "great books" curricula can be equally good w/ zero overlap!
84. Mandated reading can be useful; suggestions can expand our horizons. But consider assigned reading w/ an element of choice!

One of my fave HS assignments was summer reading where we chose an author & had to read 3+ of their works. (Mine was Gabriel García Márquez; loved it)
85. Two books that are extremely resonant w/ ideas around antilibrarianship & that you'd enjoy if you're into this thread:

How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read, by Pierre Bayard

So Many Books: Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance, by Gabriel Zaid
86. More writers should spend frankly absurd amounts of time writing long-ass books.

For example Alexander's The Nature of Order, Caro's LBJ biography, Knuth's TAOCP — each 4+ volumes, fruits of decades of work, influential & highly inspiring even if you never read 'em!
87. I want a "library of online libraries" — so many great digital library projects, but hard to find / browse em all!

Some great examples:
The Interstitial Library
Frontyard's "offline digital library"
Library Stack
The Serving Library
88. There are several authors who are incredibly famous & well-regarded and I have yet to read *at all*.

I think it's probably a universal rule that everyone has a few! Who are yours?

Top authors I have yet to read:
Jane Austen
Vladimir Nabokov
Leo Tolstoy
Diana Wynne Jones
89. How do you distribute your reading time? I aim for a daily baseline plus occasional days of extreme reading.

Spending a whole day immersed in a book can feel excessive, but fun & some books demand it! I do it kind of randomly but I'd love to do a "reading retreat" sometime.
90. Certain books should be reserved for certain occasions. Not by necessity but b/c it can enhance the reading!

There's a reason we call some books "beach reads". Similarly some books are best read in specific cities. Or on on airplane, while falling asleep, particular season…
91. What "should" children read? I mean, "anything they want!" isn't a bad start…but beyond that?

We should encourage kids to read things that challenge, but not so much as to be incomprehensible. Books that illuminate, that pull one forward into the unknown in an exciting way.
92. This holds for adults too! But how to know when a book is *too* difficult?

Stretch yourself; the strain to comprehend can be useful. (But don't mistake nonsense for challenge.)

When to read "easy" books? Whenever; just for fun! (But don't mistake breezy for insubstantial.)
93. Too bad b/c they're so cute but "little free libraries" are almost uniformly terrible as libraries. They usually feel like untended gardens, untethered to people / community.

Better mini-"libraries": bookmobiles, shared shelves at cafes…things w/ more presence & care.
94. How can reading online — websites, Twitter, blogs — approximate the best things about reading books?

1. Thoughtful structure & design
2. Support for sustained / return engagement
3. More / better margins & edges (see: Craig Mod)
4. Most important: fewer distractions
95. How should books…be…physically? There are few universals of book design, but those few might be:

-Pleasing typography
-Paper that feels nice (not too thin; no decked edges plz)
-Physical form matches reading experience (giant atlas or pocket novella, but not vice versa)
96. What is reading? In a capacious sense, something like: the process / act of apprehension.

Most often we talk about: the visual apprehension of a text.

But reading can take many forms: we read a face; a photo; a situation. It's useful to define "reading" expansively.
97. What is a book? Most books are texts, but most text does not live in books.

In (again) a capacious sense, a book is simply a container.

Books are bounded, they have edges, they start and end. Stories and ideas can live in many forms; books are specific instantiations.
98. It's fun to push the boundaries of how we conceive of books. We should explore "edge case books" — sort-of-books, maybe-books, almost-books.

Is an instructional manual a book? How about…20 bound cheese slices? A multimedia treasure chest? A real thick zine? Yes. No. Maybe!
99. I'm an inveterate novelty-seeker, but I think rereading books is underrated! Something to enjoy deliberately for many reasons:

-Comforting escapism
-Imaginatively generative
-Recurring dose of inspiration
-Sheer joy and thrill of lyrical language
100. Many books must stay in your antilibrary forever.

*Most* books you ever see will remain unread; the best of those, you may as well not-read intentionally.

Books ~age~ in an antilibrary; it's the wine cave of potential knowledge. Approach indirect learning with reverence.
Thus concludes my participation in Threadapalooza 2019. Thx to @vgr I've tweeted more this week than ever before (100 tweets = 4300+ words; would be fun to index!)

If you've enjoyed this thread, check out the site & join on the forum for more book talk! https://www.antilibrari.es 
You can follow @schlagetown.
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