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The Library of Unread Books

16 November @ 10.00 am - 8.00 pm


The Library of Unread Books was founded by Heman Chong and Renée Staal back in 2016. It is a living reference library with a collection of over 700 titles, every one of them donated by an individual who did not read it when it was in their possession. The idea is Umberto Eco’s, in fact; he proposed an ‘antilibrary’ of unread books, arguing that read books are far less valuable than the unread ones and that a library should contain as much of what one does not know as finance might allow. “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.”

The Library of Unread Books is a common resource pool that emphasises shared knowledge and is not contingent on finance. The Library’s books are arranged randomly, and visitors are encouraged to rearrange them; the value of randomness is another key aspect of the Library of Unread Books.

The opening, in the Jameel’s lobby, features a 6.00pm talk with Heman Chong hosted by Shumon Basar.

Think you have an unread book that would be better off in the Library? Follow these instructions to donate (you’ll get a lifetime membership and a personalised library card).

The Library is open to 31 January.


16 November
10.00 am - 8.00 pm
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Jameel Arts Centre
Al Jaddaf
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+971 4 323 9971