🌶️ Chilli

積ん読: The Japanese art of buying books and never reading them.

Have you ever walked into a bookshop, bought a book (or two), and then once home, the books have sat there on your bedside table for a very long time. Unread? The Japanese have a word to describe this 積ん読 (Pronounced: Tsundoku). My immediate thought on hearing this word for the first time - and then understanding what it means - was why on earth don't we have this word in the English language?

Tsundoku, has been a word that's been around in Japanese for a while now, and according to Wikipedia:

The term originated in the Meiji era (1868–1912) as Japanese slang. It combines elements of the terms tsunde-oku (積んでおく, "to pile things up ready for later and leave"), and dokusho (読書, "reading books").

I have a number of books (well, 12 to be exact) that have been languishing on my bedside table for months now, and yes they're all - mostly - completely unread. Now, I have an excuse when someone asks me why they've not been read; I can simply shrug my shoulders, and say "Tsundoku", and then the matter is formally closed as far as I'm concerned. It's much more on point to saying "I've not had the time", or whatever excuse comes to mind.

Now, you might be thinking that an unread book is a bad thing. Surely, that's the purpose of a book; to be read, right? However, perhaps for people who subscribe to Tsundoku; is it more about knowing where to find the information contained within those books, should they need it one day? So these people are building a library of books, to be in effect a reference library. Perhaps. At least from my personal perspective, I had every desire to read those books, as the subject matter had piqued my interest at one time or another, and sometimes they do actually get read. I'm simply too lazy to actually make the time to read. I consume so much of my reading material online, and I simply don't make the time, or I'm too tired to read a book at bedtime.

Tsundoku can encompass everything from a single unread book, and goes all the way up to several large piles. So I think it's safe to assume that Tsundoku doesn't refer to a scale of unread books, but rather an 'event' of 1 or more unread books. So it's a flexible term.

But, could Tsundoku cover other things that are piling up unused in your life? You know like Steam games, TV Shows etc? 読 (Doku) in Japanese only refers to reading materials, so unfortunately not. But then that poses another interesting question; does Tsundoku cover ebooks too? The internet is silent on this, but might I be as bold to assert that perhaps e-tsundoku, is the way forward?