Introduce yourself, antilibrarian friends!

#1

Hey, thought this would be a fun way to get to know who all is here. If you’d like to write a quick intro, anything you’d like to share is great! If it helps, a few suggestions as prompt:

  • What’s your all time favorite book (or three)?
  • What’s a book in your antilibrary (haven’t read yet but excited about)?
  • Any particular topics / questions you’re excited to talk about here?
#2

Hi! I’m Jinjin, I live in NYC and do digital product design and illustration, and I like reading a lot!

Fav books: Moby Dick (beCAUsE of the whale digressions), Howls Moving Castle, The Princess Bride

Antilibrary book: Ulysses, all of Octavia Butlers oeuvre, more poetry

What I want to talk about: getting inspiration for new books to get excited about. Also parsing out the many factors that make a book “good” or “bad”…

I mostly read on the subway or right before bed. Unless I’m in the middle of something unputdownable, in which case I’ll just read anywhere I can.

Looking forward to hearing more about what everyone else is reading…

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#3

I’m Spike. I recently moved to Los Angeles, but lived in Brooklyn for a while before that. For a job, I’m a UX designer. I’m trying to be more disciplined about how I spend my time (i.e. less reddit), and so I’m trying to read more.

I’ve always loved reading, and grew up with my head in a book. I like sci-fi, travel literature, non-fiction about history (especially the middle ages, rome, and good biographies), some fantasy, general fiction. I also tend to love a book that’s a challenge.

Books I’ve loved enough to re-read, or just stick out in my head as exceptional: Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars series, Patrick O’Brians Aubrey/Maturin series, various Neal Stephenson books, Dan Simmons Hyperion, Ron Chernow’s Grant, Eric Newby’s Love and War in the Apennines, Peter Flemings News from Tartary, Robert Caro’s LBJ books.

Antilibrary: I also have Ulysses (unread) on my bookshelf. I’m excited about Pynchon, and have read a couple of them, but find them so difficult.

I’m just excited to talk about books. I’ve been spending more time on Reddit’s r/books, which is why I was excited to find out about this place.

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#4

Ok guess I better answer this as well! Hey all, I’m Brendan and I started this site for a few reasons:

  1. wanted a place to share all my best book browsing finds
  2. interested in trying to build some kind of community of others who similarly enjoy reading…and thinking about reading (+ libraries, curation, knowledge systems etc. etc.)
  3. another online space that was important to me and my previous go-to for (1), Learning Gardens, recently diffused (shut down) and that was a good push I needed to get this thing started!

Here are a bunch of my favorite books: Mindstorms, Clock of the Long Now, Time and the Art of Living, Thinking in Systems: A Primer, A Pattern Language, Death and Life of Great American Cities, Eunoia, The Power Broker, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Le Ton beau de Marot, Moby Dick, His Dark Materials (Trilogy)

I have an absolute cornucopia of books in my antilibrary; I will list some in more detail in topics to come, but just looking at my shelves a handful of super cool ones: Ecodeviance, Between Song and Story, The Chinese Typewriter, Hiking the Horizontal, The Book of Forms

I am excited about pretty much all the topics here! Particularly talking about not only awesome books, but things like various approaches to reading and personal librarianship and digital knowledge management.

Thank you all for signing up, look forward to lots more good conversations here!

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#5

Nice :slight_smile: I have found a number of fascinating things on r/books. I’d say my goal here is to have a place that feels a bit smaller, more focused and intimate. I do think there are probably certain topics where having a high volume of readers / contributors can add something interesting, but in general Reddit feels like a giant public square or market, and I’d rather have something like a front porch or picnic. I’d be very curious to hear what people like most / least about r/books or any other online spaces you’ve encountered for book discussion!

#6

Howdy I’m Morgane :wave: I’m in SF, working in tech, but more importantly reading a lot of books and doing a lot of birdwatching.

Favorite books…

  • His Dark Materials trilogy, for how it captured my imagination and taught me about the benefits of wisdom over innocence
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog, for how beautiful it is and how much I relate to the 12 year old girl and the middle aged woman at the same time
  • Hamlet, for how each time I reread it (once a year), I notice something new – I don’t think I’ll ever fully discover all the layers and I find that satisfying
  • anything by Mary Ruefle; Madness, Rack, and Honey was the first book of hers that I read, and I’ve read many more since. Her writing is unrivaled (dare I say, not even by Shakespeare)

Hmm, my antilibrary book might actually be the Bible! I didn’t grow up in a religious family so I never read it. After reading A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years (which I really enjoyed), I realized I need to know more about the book that influenced so much of European and later world history. But I’m looking for an annotated version to help me better understand the context for everything.

I will say to both @jinjin and @spike: I recently finished reading Ulysses for the third time and I do think it’s worth it! The first read through might be painful because nothing can prepare you for this journey, but use things like Sparknotes etc to help guide you. It’s a truly awesome book.

And in general, I’m interested in discussing books of course, but also the culture around reading, and what “reading” really is. For the history nerds here, it may be interesting to know that in medieval Europe reading was originally done aloud; you didn’t sit quietly somewhere with a book, reading in silence only for yourself. The idea of getting cozy with a small printed book would have seen very foreign to them! So I wonder how reading will continue to change over time.

Thanks @Brendan for creating this space!

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Reading throughout the ages
#7

Hey I’m Drew! I live in San Diego working in content marketing but trying to “make it” as an entrepreneur. I typically read non-fiction but I will give one shoutout to my all time favorite fiction book: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. Mainly because of the tragic backstory about how it got published.

Some of my favorite non-fiction books are Sapiens by Harari, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger, Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall, The Outsiders by William Thorndike and Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard Feynman.

My antilibrary pick would be The Discoverers by Daniel Boorstin. I’ve started it but couldn’t get through it without moving on to other books. Also my dad just wrote a book (not yet published) about the 15th Airforce in WWII called My Father’s War. I’ve started that one as well :slight_smile:

Looking forward to hearing what everyone else brings to the table. I’m hoping this can be my source for book ideas. Lifes too short for a shitty book.

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#8

:wave:t3: I’m Ziad, I live in Paris, and I do software things around archiving, preservation and sharing.

I love reading, and it’s my favorite form of entertainment. It’s also the most immersive to me.
I read many things, but I have a soft spot for sci-fi, magical realism and stories around identity. I read French litterature in french and English litterature in English, and seek translations in any of these languages.

My favorite books tend to fluctuate over time. Dune, and the Vorkisigan Saga are books I return to regularly when I need an out from reality. I also love short stories, from Dino Buzzati to Egar Poe to Richard Matheson. Gibran’s the prophet still speaks to me. I love the way Hugo and Balzac magnify the French language, and Zola and Eugene Sue wrote never ending stories.

Recent reads that moved me include The fifth season, a close and common orbit, l’art de perdre, Kafka on the shore, anathem, pachinko and Circe.

It’s hard for me to read nonfiction, so I’m always excited about cool single topic books or books that seem to have a comprehensive or innovative approach, but they tend to remain in my anti library for a long time. One such book currently is “Drawdown”.
Another antilibrary for me is Russian classics: I’ve read about them, I have them around, and one day I’ll sit down and read them.

I’m here because I enjoy chatting about books, and hoping to find some good books to add to my pile :slight_smile:

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#9

Hello! I’m Gabe, I live in Brooklyn and work as a product designer. I run a little side project called Bindery to help me and others track reading through what I call a ‘simple system’. When I’m not in front of a computer I’m either reading or on a bike.

My favorite books change over time, but the ones I’d consistently say are:

  • The Remembrance of Earth’s Past Trilogy
  • There There
  • The Things They Carried
  • Bel Canto
  • The Well-Tempered City (@Brendan you might like this one based on your list!)
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel (Outta left field)
  • A World Undone

My antilibrary:

  • Robert Caro’s The Years of Lyndon Johnson
  • I have a strange desire to read all major religious texts, but probably never will

As far as topics go, I love talking about reading habits and how we all make time for reading in what all seem to be very busy lives. And one of my favorite topics: how do you know if a non-fiction book is actually good?

Happy to be here!

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#10

Hi there, I’m Sri. I live in NYC and work as a product marketing consultant for software companies. My earliest memories are of sundaes and milkshakes as a child growing up in my mom’s ice cream parlor. I like to climb rocks. I’m also fascinated by bridges, and unusual words. 19 countries later, I still enjoy exploring different countries, cultures, and cuisines. And find that there’s nothing more trance-like than watching bonito flakes dance on a plate of takoyaki.

I enjoy reading works from authors who build worlds (Tolkien), and teach me about human nature (Harari, Ariely). In my anti-library is a book on hunting: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter. Hunting plays an essential role in human history, and I know next to nothing about it. O_O

Excited to meet other folks on here, and get antilibrary recommendations!

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#11

Hey! I’m Tom Critchlow - an independent strategy consultant in Brooklyn.

I founded a books-lists website in 2010 that I still hold close to my heart even though it’s long gone… (in the internet archive here)

I just started maintaining a list of books I’ve read here:

books read

And a scrappy messy list of books to read next (with context of where I found it) here.

Fave books is super hard but a few that come to mind:

(and of course Godel, Escher Bach which changed my life but is less of an all-purpose recommendation…)

Excited to discuss books, reading, writing and the role of books & libraries in culture.

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#12

:wave:Hello! I’m Sarah, I lead design at a small startup and I live in Brooklyn. Even though I work in tech, my interests are much more in the art/creative spaces. I paint/draw, walk my dog, and participate in some activism, & I think that takes up most of my outside work time.

My favorite books (more recently):
The Last Samurai
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
I Love Dick
Women, Race, & Class
Void Star
Duty Free Art

My antilibrary is just catching up on all of the socialist theory & history books I feel so behind on that I see references of, or read snippets from!

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#13

Hello! I’m Leo, also a Brooklynite for now. I like to read and cook new things and ride my bike. I also help out with communications at Are.na and I keep yearly bookshelves there (2019, 2018, 2017).

I read a lot of fiction in translation! Haven’t really thought too hard about why, but I guess it’s a window into different ways of making sense of the world. I also like to read about things like landscape, politics, memory, and history. I’ve been getting more interested in histories of technology and computing lately.

I’d love to hear if anyone has authors they get into really deeply, and how you think about those relationships. For me some of those authors are Italo Calvino, Ali Smith, and WG Sebald.

My antilibrary book right now is Cadillac Desert – it’s intimidating me from the shelf.

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#14

I’ve recently fallen in love with Olga Tokarczuk’s writing after starting on a second book by her. The prose is just beautiful and intriguing, and it’s been translated so well from Polish. Only problem is not all of her works have been translated to English, so there’s this funny barrier to me on exploring all of her work. Something I take for granted reading so many English language books.

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#15

Nice, love the Arena book lists! I’ve done some yearly reading summary blog posts in the past, but would be fun to update as a proper section on my website collecting them in one place.

I enjoyed the one Cesar Aira book I read (An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter), lots of his stuff looks great. “A Brief History of Portable Literature” was fun too. But I really haven’t read a ton of translated literature…going to peruse these lists a bit more!

Definitely! I can only imagine how much great stuff is out there we’ll never even know about b/c of language / culture barriers, among other things (easier said than done to pull a Buttigieg and learn Norwegian on a lark to read a favorite author, much as I love the idea, language learning is not really my strong suit haha). But on the other hand, it can be kind of fun to learn about books and add to our antilibraries based only on second or thirdhand knowledge e.g. even if no English translation yet exists.

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#16

Hi frenz!

I’m Emily. Live in Brooklyn, from CA (Pasadena, Santa Cruz, Oakland). A user experience person. Into media & archives, accessibility, linguistics, psychology, outsider art of all flavors.

some favorite books:

  • The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov
  • The Stuff of Thought + The Language Instinct by Stephen Pinker (I know he’s not so woke now but these were pretty formative)
  • The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami
  • Honestly…Infinite Jest (I know this isn’t cool anymore and seems like signaling but it’s true?)

Also in the last year read I read “The Idiot” by Elif Batuman and the collection “My less than secret life” by Jonathan Ames and they both hit me really hard, in terms of authors who can articulate a certain rhythm in sync with your own brain space. Saunders does this too, but for some reason I don’t feel inclined to put him in my favs. I feel like his best works are yet to come (though maybe I just need to read Lincoln in the Bardo.)

book in your antilibrary (haven’t read yet but excited about)?

  • ugh so much. I think my life would be improved if I actually committed to finishing something by Svetlana Alexievich. Her writing is so dense with emotion and beauty and insight that I can only read like three pages at a time without feeling like I just need to sit with it and and cry/stare into space.

topics / questions you’re excited to talk about here?

  • soviet stuff! linguistics and speculative design stuff. earnest and funny and smart pomo fiction, poetry.

thanks again for creating this space, Brendan :slight_smile:

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#17

Agreed, it really is an incredible book! Which I can say, because I, too, have read it. Heh. :+1: :sunglasses: :grin:

Interesting I kinda felt the same way about Saunders…all I’ve read by him is the “Pastoralia” story collection, and idk, I can see he’s a good writer, but didn’t particularly move me in any specific way.

Not familiar with Svetlana Alexievich, thanks for mentioning, I’m looking her up now! Oh, also, are you familiar with Hofstadter’s Le Ton beau de Marot? My all time favorite book about language! Focused more on translation, not linguistics, but it’s super fun so I like to bring it up every chance I get haha.

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#18

Hi, I’m Evan. I’m a product designer in SF. Made my way over from the Learning Gardens version of antilibraries to lurk and find more good book recommendations. As a kid I was always staying up late to finish a book, these days I find myself reading on my commute and in the mornings. I also maintain a side project called bindery.js, for designing printed books with HTML and CSS. (built a few years ago as part of a class project— no relation to @gabekelley 's bindery :slight_smile: ).

Favorites are hard to choose. Recently, enjoyed The Idiot by Elif Batuman, and My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Otessa Moshfegh. I also like sci-fi— one book that’s stayed with me a lot is The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber. Lately I’ve been reading a lot more nonfiction— though I’m not able to get totally engrossed like I can with a novel, I’ve been enjoying learning about new subjects that I know almost nothing about. A few recent ones: Debt by David Graeber, SPQR by Mary Beard, The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, Revolutionary Yiddishland by Alain Brossat and Sylvie Klingberg, Carceral Capitalism by Jackie Wang.

As for my antilibrary, I have a copy of The Stack by Benjamin Bratton I want to read some day, but it’s such a physically large book to carry when commuting… or at least that’s my current excuse.

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#19

Oohhhh this looks very cool. And I have to say I am thrilled that we have two people here with book-related (yet very different) projects called Bindery!

I picked up Carceral Capitalism recently, looks great. The Stack is in my antilibrary as well!

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#20

I’m very interested in bindery.js too! Haven’t had a chance to use it yet but am very much looking forward to doing something with it soon.

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