Tsundoku

For a long time, I have felt guilty about the number of unread books I have in my personal collection (both in the Kindle app and on my bookshelf). I recently came across a Japanese term for this phenomenon that has helped me to rethink the practice and intentionally lean into collecting unread books without feeling guilt. Tsundoku is a Japanese term that refers to the practice of acquiring reading materials and letting them pile up without reading them. It is a combination of two words: "tsund


Notes

Jun 18, 2024

Photo by Jeroen den Otter / Unsplash

2 min read

For a long time, I have felt guilty about the number of unread books I have in my personal collection (both in the Kindle app and on my bookshelf). I recently came across a Japanese term for this phenomenon that has helped me to rethink the practice and intentionally lean into collecting unread books without feeling guilt.

Tsundoku is a Japanese term that refers to the practice of acquiring reading materials and letting them pile up without reading them. It is a combination of two words: "tsunde-oku" (to let things pile up) and "dokusho" (reading books). There is NOT a negative sentiment attached to this term in the Japanese culture.

The more I've thought about tsundoku, the more I've realized there are a lot of similarities between this practice and the art of wine collecting that are worth pondering. For example:

Reframing the practice of collecting unread books as an experience similar to collecting wine has helped me to not only feel less guilt about my unread books, it has also encouraged me to lean into the practice even more. I am more intentional about buying books that I hope to someday read, but I also choose not to feel any guilt for not getting to those books.

© 2024 Ross Gebhart
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