I recently came across the word Tsundoku which I find greatly amusing. According to Wikipedia:

“Tsundoku” (n.) is the condition of acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one’s home without reading them. “Tsundoku” originated as Japanese slang (積ん読) “tsun-doku”. 「積ん読」 came from 「積んでおく」 “tsunde-oku” (to pile things up ready for later and leave) and 「読書」 “dokusho” (reading books).




I’ve always been addicted to books, and like to be surrounded by piles of them, just in case I run out of – horrors – reading matter. And since the time when, on a trip, I finished my book and found myself with no access to a library or bookshop, I’ve also collected a number on Kindle. These are a safety measure, but lack the heft and presence of print.

In my defense, I do read them. I always have two or three on the go. But I will never get through my unread pile in my lifetime, especially since I occasionally like to re-read favorites. But have a clear out? Never!

As they say ‘So many books, so little time’ – or, ‘tsundoku‘!

53 thoughts on “Tsundoku”

  1. Oh I definitely suffer from that! I’m always making and remaking piles of books, constantly shuffling them off and back on the shelves, filling spaces, having them to hand just in case, then off on another tangent and a new pile called for!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a few collected on my kindle that are unread for the same reason, but I did have a clear out when we moved out of some rooms to make way for the remodel. I got rid of old paperbacks, and books I wouldn’t reread.

    I kept my reference books, and all the classics, and the few series I reread once every couple of years.

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  3. Guilty as charged! And now I am starting to collect the electronic ones too. I doubt they will ever all be read, and may sadly end up being sold for pennies. But I just can’t stop getting them!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I am definitely of this! In fact, my ‘just in case’ book addiction has led to desperate measures, I’ve banned myself from book-buying for the whole year so I can make some headway through the stacks I’ve already got! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It resonated with me too! Although these days I seem to read way more library books than ones I buy myself. And have just discovered that my Library has a service where I can download audio books to my phone. Great when I am on my daily walk.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I wonder if they have a word for my problem, which is acquiring a huge pile of books from the library and neglecting everything else till I’ve read the lot… Good job I read very, very fast, or we’d both be going hungry and run out of clean clothes…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I can’t stop myself devouring them till they’re all gone. So, does that make me an Ukodnust…? And my library record is pristine, no fines, no late returns, no lost books – and lots of traffic!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. New Year! Besides all the other sales the book ones are on naturally! Oh the enjoyment of saying ‘eeny-meeny-maany-mo’ and clicking one more onto the growing pile ordered ! I do not live in an ordinary house anyways since there are bookshelves in every room and piles of books on every horizontal surface at all times . . . but at the moment this tsundoku phenomenon is very noticeable here 🙂 ! What glorious fun !!!

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  8. Tsundoku resembles the word tsunami – maybe it can be thought of as a tsunami of tsundoku. I’m just as guilty as you are – every room in the house has a bookcase, every one of them is full as are many of the cabinets and a bunch of boxes. I keep saying I won’t buy more, I’ll get rid of most of them but that never happens. Sigh….

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  9. It never occurred to me that any language had a word for that. When I was in my late teens, I realized that I’d confused having a book with knowing what was in the book. I’ve gotten better about it since, but I still do let books pile up.

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  10. I love it Marina! Tsundoku is my new word. I always have a pile of books on the go at once depending on my mood. The thought of not having a book to read is horrifying so I always have a few lined up just in case. An insecurity perhaps? The science of ‘stuff’ is very telling in terms of identity. Examine anyone’s house for the objects that dominate and you have a window into their souls.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, brilliant. I have to put up my hand and plead guilty too. In fact, the woman in your watercolour could well be me. But I do have regular purges of my bookcases, though the books I haven’t read usually get to stay. Because you know, one day, I just might read them!

    Liked by 1 person

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