How to combat “Tsundoku”

Reading through my Bookish Vocabulary page, I came up with the subject for this blog when I rediscovered “Tsundoku”. This is the act of buying books and leaving them unread, often piled together with other unread books.

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I know that my to-read list is never-ending and I have to admit to having one shelf in my bookcase that’s filled with unread books. Some I haven’t gotten around to yet, some I haven’t felt like reading yet, and, lastly, the next instalments in series I’m still reading. I am convinced that most book-lovers have unread books lying around, and they continue to be unread for different reasons. And there’s no blame in that, you can now justify this by saying you are suffering from “tsundoku”. You’re welcome! But for those of you wanting to change that, here are three tips on how to combat it.

1. Create order in the chaos

Yes, bookcases and -shelves are beautiful and seeing them just feels right. But keeping your read and unread books together will only exacerbate your tsundoku. So separate those books: different piles, shelves, bookcases, … You’ll notice your unread books more and besides, it will feel so satisfying to be able to add books to the read pile.

2. Throw away what you’ll never (re)read

Be honest with yourself. Do you have books that have been lying around for years (bad buys, wrong gifts, books you own twice or more, …), get rid of them. Give them to someone who’ll appreciate them, take them to a secondhand store, exchange them for something new in little free libraries (like I did here), … There’s no use in keeping these books around, it’ll only take up precious space on your book shelves. And if you’re running out of space, check the books you’ve read and look for the copies that hold no sentimental value to you, that you’ll never reread, that you didn’t really like, … Get rid of them to make some room for your new acquisitions!

3. Remember: reading must be fun

Reading books because your friends have, because you want to seem smart, because you bought them to look impressive on your shelves, because you got them as a gift and don’t want to disappoint the giver, because you have to for school, … All of this will discourage you from reading and you might lose the pleasure you found in books before. I speak from experience: while in university I had to read so many of the “classic” English novels that weren’t really my style that I stopped reading altogether. For five years, I didn’t even read one book a month (outside what was obligated) and I really rediscovered my reading joy after graduation. So, remember that reading is fun, that you do it because you enjoy it and to relax, and only read what you really want to.

Now, following these three tips will not guarantee to cure you of your tsundoku, but they might help a little. I know it helped reduce my to-read pile!

Happy reading,

Loes M.

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