The Japanese have a word, Tsundoku, for the act of acquiring books but letting them pile up in one’s home without reading them.

The word “doku” can be used as a verb to mean “reading”. According to Prof Gerstle, the “tsun” in “tsundoku” originates in “tsumu” – a word meaning “to pile up”. So when put together, “tsundoku” has the meaning of buying reading material and piling it up.

I also have had this habit. Our home in Taiwan was wall to ceiling with books, and while most of them belonged to our kids, it was my wife and I who got it all started. As time went on I would continue to buy books of interest, but lack the time to read them. Here on PEI I have a number of boxes in storage, containing an older collection, that are waiting for us to have a more permanent home. Most of my reading these days is digital, which I think is a shame, as there is lasting value in the worn pages of a paper bound book, value which isn’t so apparent when your collection is all stored digitally.

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