Truly Cultured


What does it mean to be “truly cultured”? Here’s what Zaid said, or wrote, in his book So Many Books: “. . . the truly cultured are capable of owning thousands of unread books without losing their composure or their desire for more.” (That’s Gabriel Zaid, by the way.)

Heartened by this keen observation, and taking the point further, Nick Hornby writes that “with each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not.”

So if you need to streamline your holdings because you’ve long since run out of room for new volumes, one rule may be to ask of a given book, “What does your presence in my library say about me? Is that who I am? And whether it is or not, is that how I want to be known?”

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