Are you a practitioner of tsundoku?
After reading a blog post on tsundoku and learning what it was, I wanted to create a more prominent reminder of my tendency to buy books that I want to read…and then never actually read. I own books that I bought as far back as early college, nearly ten years ago, that still sit unread on my bookshelf.
I discovered I needed a space for my habit of tsundoku.
tsundoku, 積ん読 (Japanese)
(n.) the act of leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with other such unread books
I love that the Japanese have one word that captures both an actual state of objects and a state of mind. Because if you love reading, you probably also feel comforted by having a few stacks of books in your house. For some reason, I have a subconscious fear that I’ll never have enough to read, so it’s almost impossible for me to enter a bookstore without exiting as the proud owner of at least one new book. And I derive a lot of satisfaction from my overflowing bookshelves.
Inspired by this idea of tsundoku, I created a more organized space for this habit, both to appease my neat freak streak and to have easy access to books I need to read, rather than mixing them in with the rest of my book collection.
Most of these are books I bought, but some are books that were given to me. For instance, I’ve read enough Salman Rushdie to know I love him, and a few people have gifted me his books. However, I haven’t yet finished any of the four currently on my shelf by him. Many are secondhand copies that I’ve found for so cheap I couldn’t resist.
In fact, that shelf doesn’t really comprise all of them. And oh, let’s not talk about the “need to read” folder on my Kindle. Or the list I keep on Goodreads of what I want to read (it’s 250+ books). That’s another blog post in and of itself.
Anyway, not long after I decided I would designate a shelf for my unread books, we made a trip to our favorite used bookstore, where they buy and sell books. My husband teases me when we go, because it’s almost a guarantee that for any books I take with us to sell, I’ll replace them with new books. And of course, that happened again. Here’s the new unread pile. (Although I did happen to buy a few books I’d already read, but not many.)
I remember when I was growing up, we had a bookcase with glass doors. Taped to one of the doors was a quote about how books were a more essential part of a home than furniture. It said something to the effect of ‘books are necessary, furniture’s optional.’ I guess I’ve always believed that. At least I never have to worry about having something to read. My tsundoku signifies my neverending love of words.