Ancient word of the day: Tsundoku

Got enough books? What a stupid question!

The Japanese word, “Tsundoku”, which literally means “reading pile”, dates back all the way to the Meiji era (1868-1912). It’s a unique word for which there is no English equivalent. If you’re an avid reader though, you will well understand that feeling…it’s pure happiness, the feeling of knowing that you have many more books ready to read!

The word is a combination of the words tsundeoku 積つんでおく (to pile things up and leave them) and dokusho 読書どくしょ

A great private collection is a material concentrate that continually stimulates, that overexcites. Not only because it can always be added to, but because it is already too much. The collector’s need is precisely for excess, for surfeit, for profusion. It’s too much—and it’s just enough for me. … A collection is always more than is necessary.”
― Susan Sontag, The Volcano Lover: A Romance

Geological Marvel, Art or Book? You Be The Judge!
Ancient word of the day: Tsundoku
Ancient word of the day: Tsundoku
Books I have actually read in this stack, but many more are still lingering in a state of tsundoku

A book is a dream that you hold in your hand. – Neil Gaiman

Every picture tells a story: The library made of gigantic books
Every picture tells a story: The library made of gigantic books

All of those books you own but haven’t read are a sign that you’re not wise enough yet and that life still has so much to teach you. And while it’s difficult to be minimalistic when surrounded by books, there is a cosy pleasure in being surrounded by so many new worlds to explore.

There is another similar feeling to tsudoku I think…the feeling of looking at a stack of books you have already read and returning to those worlds inside of your head, even if only for moments. Do you know this feeling?

Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.

4 thoughts on “Ancient word of the day: Tsundoku

  1. Yes I know the similar feeling well…the ‘read’ books pile is a lovely thing….
    Tsundoku has a tension as well for me…I always feel I should be pushing on into the next book!


    1. I understand the pressure too, although for me the pressure isn’t from the books themselves but rather the tension for me is from having my PC open and on instead of reading. The books themselves exert only a subtle joy calling to me, perhaps that sounds weird though?!


      1. No it doesn’t — i get it completely. It’s mostly a good thing, it’s just when the same books stay unread that’s something that you start to notice.


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