The Three Hierarchical Layers Of Books

My friend, Glenn, over at My Adventure to Enlightenment is studying-abroad this semester in Morocco. He’ll be leaving in a few weeks and realized he only has room for roughly 6 books in his luggage. He is looking for books that have re-readability, provoke deep, challenging thought, and he is seeking non-fiction. This made me think what determines re-readability in a non-fiction text.

The Personal Library
The Quantum-Library
The Anti-Library

The Personal Library is a the basic layer containing all of your possessed books and other literary works. It possesses those that you have read, re-read, and have yet to read. For the separation of the layers this is the only layer that contains books that you have read only once.

The Anti-Library is something that has become a bit of a buzz word after being mentioned in Nassim Taleb’s, The Black Swan. He quote’s Umberto Eco on his view of a library(quote provided below). It is the layer that holds text that you have yet to read.

‘”Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight read-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an anti-library.”‘

However, there is another layer that is not discussed as of yet. It contains the texts that you have read, but ultimate meaning still eludes it’s readers. A book that shifts meaning depending on the perspective used to percieve it’s words. A layer that contains the ultimate in re-readability. This layer is like a movie, you watch it once and you enjoy it, you watch it several more times and you notice several subtle nuances, and the longer you re-watch the more you notice. These are the text’s that he is wanting to pack.

The Quantum-Library is the layer that co-exists as a member of both the Library and the Anti-Library. It is something you may have read, but when read again with a different perspective it exists in another form. These type’s of books are the ultimate for a bibliophile. It is the layer described above and contains the texts that you re-read.

So if you know of any texts that exist in the Quantum layer leave a comment here or over at Glenn’s blog he’d really appreciate it.


Seeing people come in from Zenpundit, Jay@Soob, OZ Deichman, and Ace Hanna, I have added my own list with reasons for their selection.