NOTE: Scholarship rates available for students and others in need of financial support to be able to enroll. If you're interested in a scholarship, please email me with a brief note on why you're interested in the course.
What is an Antilibrary?
This course is centered around building the foundations of a thoughtful, effective, and personalized reading practice, including both what and how to read — not a set of universal rules, but a framework that fits with your own specific reading goals.
The term antilibrary refers to all the books in your orbit that you may not have read yet, but have at your fingertips. It's a powerful concept, this potential reading energy, and one of the core components of a considered approach to curating and reading books.
We can extend the same idea to other material, from essays to websites to videos — anything you might learn from. At the heart of it, that's what this course is about: reading in ways that better help you learn, grow, and appreciate the world, parts (and books) known and unknown.
Course Goals & Outcomes
In this course, you will:
- Develop strategies for curating diverse high-quality reading lists, and getting the most out of your reading (and non-reading!)
- Complete some personal library-development projects that position you to get the most out of reading for years to come
- Set your own personal reading goals, and design strategies and approaches to reading and library-building in service of those goals
You'll complete two projects:
- Reading Lists: You'll create a personal collection of truly great book lists, custom-tailored to your personal interests and goals
- Applied Reading: You'll develop a specific set of practices, based on your reading goals / specific direction to explore, and experiment with applying them to how you read.
Together we'll collect our individual contributions from the above projects into a Metalibrary of multiple perspectives we can all draw on and explore further.
Whether you own five books or five hundred, you'll gain a better process for deciding what to read, actually reading effectively, and establishing reading habits for the long term.
Length & Time Commitment
This course meets weekly for six weeks, every Tuesday for 90 minutes in a group call. We may also have some optional office hours calls / working sessions, but the mandatory calls are once a week.
Expect to also spend 2-4 hours per week doing some work and discussion outside of class, for a rough total time commitment of ~5 hours per week.
See below for a detailed schedule.
Who is this course for?
This course is for bookworms, bibliophiles, autodidacts, library nerds, the perpetually curious — serious readers and learners.
This may be just the course for you if you:
- Love curating great book lists
- Spend hours browsing used bookstores
- Have thoughts about libraries and ways of reading
- Save endless bookmarks, PDFs, and other reading materials
- Have the urge to read books of all kinds!
This course is not specifically about "personal knowledge management", but is in some ways adjacent. Our focus will not primarily be on how to extract information from what you read, or perform extreme book intake optimization.
It is, however, grounded in the believe that there is a lot to be gained from reading in a more conscientious, thoughtful way. We'll work together to each cultivate a reading practice that's holistic and effective; powerful and personal.
About the Facilitator
I'm Brendan, and in addition to being one of the cofounders of Hyperlink, I run a book curation site and small community called Antilibraries.
For several years, I've approached this project as a way to scratch my personal itch to curate interesting books, while also sharing what I find, and exploring questions around libraries, book clubs, and effective reading.
I read omnivorously, and love all kinds of books, from classic literature to poetry to sociology to sci-fi. I like to track my daily reading time using a bookmark timer, and track my yearly reading on Goodreads (but always trying alternatives). I'm excited to share what I've learned, and explore how we can all, in our own ways, become better readers and (anti)librarians.
WEEK 1 - Reading Goals; Reading Possibilities
- What is reading for? We all love to read…but what, exactly, do we hope to get from it?
- We'll discuss how our approach to reading can (and should) vary with different books and contexts — whether you're reading for fun, curiosity, specific knowledge, or some other purpose entirely.
- Defining your personal reading goals: let's dig into what reading habits, practices, or methods you find most interesting and potentially useful, and would like to work on during this course.
- Exercise: We'll examine some questions and frameworks to help articulate the full scope of your reading goals.
WEEK 2 - Introduction to Personal Librarianship
- There are many types of libraries: public libraries, books you own, those you share with a partner, your antilibrary of books you know but have not read.
- It's important to have your own personal library — what qualities of such a library are important to you, and work in service of your reading goals!
- In particular, we'll examine the uses of an antilibrary: discovery, new perspectives, expanding the possibility space for learning…
- Tracking your library at a high level: how do you approach making book lists, organizing your library, and tracking what you read?
- Exercise: We'll spend some time generating book list possibilities, and picking one particular list to expand on in a book curation exercise.
- Project 1 of 2 - Reading Lists: We'll get started on one of two major projects for this course, your own personal collection of book lists. You might focus on all-time favorites, topic or project-specific lists, your antilibrary, or other directions of your choosing.
WEEK 3 - Effective Reading Practice
- How to read a book? There are, in fact, many types or "levels" of reading, suitable for different purposes. Let's look at different strategies for reading — and intentional not-reading, as the situation demands.
- We'll also examine the spectrum of reading artifacts, ways of digesting what we read: when and how to takes notes, highlight, or annotate our books (and when not to).
- Finally, how else might we internalize what we read, digest it and share? We'll consider possibilities for applied reading, depending on the goals you hold to be most important.
- Exercise: bring two books you own — one you love and want to re-read more intentionally, and one you find interesting but would rather… not read, and we'll discuss how to approach both cases.
- Project 2 of 2 - Applied Reading: We'll start on our other main project for the course, an articulation of your reading goals and a set of practices to help you attain them. You'll choose a specific direction to explore, and experiment with some unique, personal reading strategies.
WEEK 4 - Reading Habits
- We'll take a closer look at specific reading habits and practices you might implement: for example, daily reading goals, or bookmarking methods.
- How do we think about our long-term reading habits? Let's consider reading routines, and ways we might track what we read, to read not only effectively but consistently.
- Other possibilities: how can we most effectively parallel process books? How can we most usefully triage our reading choices, and abandon books when we need to?
- Finally, we'll consider possibilities for social reading: book clubs, co-reading and annotation groups, show-and-tells, and other collaborative / group reading forms, synchronous or asynchronous.
- Exercise: We'll conduct a reading diversity audit, based on all the books we can remember reading in the past year, considering why diverse reading is important and how we can usefully measure it.
WEEK 5 - Building Your Library / Antilibrary
- Advanced topics in personal librarianship: as we near the end of the course and work on refining our book lists and reading strategies, we'll explore further ideas for building a better bookshelf.
- We'll get into different types of books (e.g. paper vs. digital) and the affordances of different mediums, and look at reading resources beyond books as part of our libraries as well.
- We'll also look at additional approaches for curating, organizing, triaging, and sharing your reading lists, depending on your reading goals.
- Finally, we'll work on refining our two class projects (reading lists + applied reading practices) and get ready for final presentations in our next and final week.
WEEK 6 - Metalibrary Showcase
- Time for final presentations, as we share and discuss our final projects and together assemble our own Metalibrary of excellent book lists and reading practices.
- We'll conduct a final discussion, addressing any lingering questions around personal librarianship, and proposing possible questions to continue exploring going forward.
- To conclude the class, we'll do a brief retrospective, reviewing how the course went and how we might improve it for next time.