Never be complete – letting go of the ‘complete set’

In 2013’s 900 Things project, I reduced to a few carefully chosen collections including Hunter Thompson, Jack Kerouac, Bob Woodward and Spalding Gray.

I still had a Thompson book in my to-read pile and it was with mixed emotions that I got about 50 pages in and thought “I don’t think I want to read this.”

But what do I do with it? Should it go into the collection in case I change my mind? That seems unlikely. I’m moving away from such things, not toward.

I reflected on why these collections bring me joy. They are, to me, my favorite writers. But not every work by even my favorites is in and of itself a favourite. I don’t care for Kerouac’s poetry, for example. I had several of his poetry books in the collection for years thinking that I would someday change that view. They all went, partly read, to the used bookstore.

The same happened with comics. For years I fought that some writers may have appealed to me at a certain time in their career or for a certain type of work.

I came to realize that I don’t enjoy Grant Morrison’s super-hero work-for-hire writing despite loving his creator-owned (many other names are being added to that list along with Nick Spencer, Warren Ellis and Jonathan Hickman).

And so it’s ok to be incomplete. Or to have a complete collection of the work I love.

Not a Complete Works of, but rather a Curated Works of.

One of the hardest things to drill into the head of an accumulator – you are never going to be graded on this.

If you don’t find your own reward in what you are collecting, it will not be presented to you by anyone else.

There is no scorecard.


Ω An earlier version of this post appeared at