Tsundoku, Bibliophilia, and ranting.

Tsundoku, a Japanese word for collecting books and never reading them! A term I literally just learned. Why? Because Google randomly displayed articles about it when I opened my internet browser this afternoon. (Though if it’s the same day when I get around to posting, this is anyone’s guess.) Naturally, I was instantly curious not only because of my love of books but also my love of Japanese books. Now I’ve not read many, I should fix that, but it’s hard to find translations of actual Japanese novels here in the United States and I am one who refuses to pirate the hard work of authors of any sort or from any location. That being said, I have inhaled my share of manga and I read the Parasite Eve novel by Hideaki Sena some years ago because my local library had a copy. A book I would suggest to lovers of Japanese and biological horror and, of course, the semi well known video game series of the same name.

Many English speakers, of which I am, and no I am not flaunt in anything else, your typical English speaking American, may be more familiar with the term bibliophile, a person with a great love of books! It’s used in both a sentimental and derogatory term really depending on who you speak to. (Though honestly, the only people I have ever heard use it negatively are those who dislike reading.)

Back on topic, however, there was a time in my life that I collected tons of books but never got around to reading them. I had a whole bookshelf full of stacks on stacks of literature, eventually though, someone gifted me an e-reader and cut back on the physical copies. I love holding a book, but they take up more space than you can account for if you’re the person who likes to go back and re-read once in a while. Sure library borrowing is great, but these days, because of certain publishing companies cutting back on the copies libraries may have, it makes the time you spend waiting on the book, often not worth the wait when you can just purchase it and have it instantly. (An issue I will touch in a later post.)

Once more back on topic, because I digress constantly, when I moved it was rather dreadful, I had no one to give all my many books to, and no one would purchase them off me so I ended up throwing away hundreds of books ranging in genre and various levels of use, you could tell which of the many books I had over read as the spines had suffered severe fraying. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski is the only physical copy survivor of my book purge. Why? Well, it is such a bizarrely visual book which often requires turning of the entire book, unless you can read sideways and upside down and in circles, that to not read it in a physical format seems almost insulting to the work they put in to the text.

Do you have a backlog of books you intend to read but never get to? Do you think it’s a normal habit of a bibliophile or something deeper? I’m no psychologist, but the varying reasons people come up with for these collecting habits can be really interesting.

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