Tsundoku: On Having an Endless To-Be-Read List

Do you ever feel like you buy more books than you could possible read? You're not the only one.

Do you suffer from book-buying mania? It means that you always buy books, even if your bookshelf is already full and you couldn’t possibly finish all of them in a single lifetime. The Japanese, who realised that many book lovers suffer from this condition, made up a word for it: tsundoku. A Dutch newspaper recently asked people to take pictures of their to-be-read book pile, and of course I submitted mine. Want to know what I wrote? Read on!

The newspaper only allowed a maximum of one hundred words to accompany the book-pile pictures. Needless to say, I struggled enormously. After hours of writing, deleting, rereading, editing, sharing it with my boyfriend who made some adjustments, rereading, and making a final rewrite (and then translating it into English for my blog), I managed to type consisting of only 97 words:

There are a thousand reasons why I buy more books than I can read. I’m overconfident (‘no doubt I’ll read all of these books’), I’m a snob (‘naturally I acquired that classic book ages ago’), and I’m addicted (‘surely I need to have all books by this author’). Obviously, I’m also delusional for thinking I’ll be a better person if I read all the books that have ever been written. But of course the most important reason is when I do manage to finish a book: I just need be sure there’s unread treasure waiting for me.

Part of me wants to go on writing. Part of me wants to explain why I picked these books, that two ofthem are borrowed books, and that I could easily have included at least forty other books. But I won’t. Sometimes, a hundred words are plenty.

What’s on your to-be-read pile? Are there any books you’ve been dying to read for ages, but never managed to pick up? Are there any books in the picture below that you hated? Please let me know in the comments! Also, don’t forget to follow me for more book-related posts!


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