I’ve often wondered about my library.
I am inclined to buy books and not join a library to borrow them, when I need. There is perhaps an apprehension that I will need to refer to that particular book again, and it will not be handy. It is usually easy for me to remember what I had read in a book; it’s a bit of a task for me to remember exactly what was written. Buying books, however brings along with it, the problem of their keeping. (If you need to know about my relationship with book, read this) Some years ago, I read The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in which, I read about the antilibrary:
“The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore, professore dottore Eco, what a library you have ! How many of these books have you read?” and the others – a very small minority – who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you don’t know as your financial means, mortgage rates and the currently tight real-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 menancingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.”
I am no Umberto Eco, but this helped reinforce, in some way, the raison d’être for my library. My mom always gives me a look when new books come home. But the looks are not for the books (she is as much a book lover as I am) but because she knows some space will be encroached upon.
I was a bit hesitant to open the shrink-wrap of a book. The book was for sale; what if I decided against buying it?
Go ahead, open it. Books aren’t meant to be in a shrink-wrap.
And there it was, in pristine condition, Traces of India – Photography, Architecture & the Politics of Representation 1850-1900. Within five minutes of skimming through, I knew I would buy it. And then, it had to happen. I stumbled upon Concepts of Space in Traditional Indian Architecture. Oh, the pain! The dilemma! The budget! I settled for the later, with a heavy heart. (Wise words floated in the room: The library should contain as much of what you don’t know as your financial means, mortgage rates and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there.) I promised the other book: I’ll be back.
I bought only one book, but brought back four, today, from Trilogy. That’s because the Trilogy is not just a book store, it’s a library too. Given that hardly any local libraries stock books of real interest, I had long given up on joining a library. There’s also the inconvenience of returning books to the library.
Trilogy was started with lots of love by Ahalya and Meethil Momaya and this love shows when you speak with them in their very tastefully done library. (Unfortunately, they do ask that you return the books in two weeks). Meethil happily removes the shrink-wrap so that you can see inside. Trilogy is a bookstore, a library, and an events location, rolled into one, but you feel the library little more than the book shop. These are of course, early days for this fantastic venture. The library provides flexible membership plans for people who generally don’t borrow books (like me) and allows you to borrow more than one books at a time. Eight books, if you take the family membership. I’ll confess, I wasn’t about to join a library when K&S took me there today. I thought, maybe, if I liked something, I’d buy a book.
I was willingly converted; took a membership. [There’s a fun secret about the membership card, but hey, you’ll know it only if you join]
Trilogy is 37kms away from my place. About an hour, without traffic, which is impossible on Mumbai’s main arterial road. Twice a month, to the library is asking for much. But I am glad about joining. Books aren’t just about words and pages and binding. They are about bonding. With people who love books as much (or more) than you do.
There is of course the disadvantage that I’ll not be able to underline and annotate, but I’ll end up using my notebook more. (Inspired by Thirteen1999). And perhaps, just perhaps, I might not take three months to finish a book. There’s your advantage. Visit teltrilogy.com for more information.
Right now, I have to go finish reading a book that I have borrowed.