BK’s BookPouch: The Tsundoku Issue


My friend tagged me in a facebook post this morning while I was at work, explaining the word ‘Tsundoku’, which is according to a facebook page, the Japanese word for “leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with other unread books”.

I’ll have to ask Kamsin if this really is Japanese or just made up for the banter of facebook, but either way, I need this word in my life. I love buying books, and am forever buying more than I have time to read. I’m also bad for ‘saving’ books (because there are those I know as soon as I read them, I won’t want them to end – Alexander McCall Smith’s Ladies Detective Agency novels come under this category, so the book he gifted to me last August will likely not be read until an appropriately summery day off). And I’m terrible for seeing books on one of my ‘the bus isn’t here yet, so I’ll just pop in to Waterstone’s for a wee wander…’ trips and then read the newer book and bump the book I bought a few weeks before.

I don’t want to be that woman who has books on her shelf that she hasn’t read, so in March I took ALL  my unread books of my bookshelf and put them in a pile in the middle of my bedroom floor to deliberately annoy myself so I would read them. Preferably before I buy any more books.

In the spirit of honesty that I like to keep on this blog, I can tell you I have already failed on this front because I bought a book today that I spotted on one of those ‘the bus isn’t here yet, so I’ll just pop in to Waterstone’s for a wee wander…’ trips I mentioned. It is not good for my bank balance (though great for my loyalty card one) that I discovered Waterstone’s ‘click and collect’ scheme. In my defence, the book was on sale, so it made financial sense to buy it now and add it to my Tsundoku.

I can however, triumphantly tell you that the upside to some drier weather, fewer shifts at work this month and my masters research being halted as I await for all the paperwork needed for ethical approval…is that I finished two books in the last week. That means, there is space for two more books from the Tsundoku pile to move to the space between my pillow and bedside drawers used for my ‘currently reading pile’. (I wonder if there is a Japanese word for ‘Pile of books you have started reading and not finished yet, commonly found in your various handbags’).

I loved Caitlin Moran’s How To Build A Woman – I was nervous about reading about her views on pornography and abortion because I agree with her on so many things, I didn’t want to be angry with what she said. But actually as it turned out, I think we agree on more than I realised, and her thoughts and opinions really made me think about these issues in a different way. I also found Matt Haig’s Reasons To Stay Alive hugely encouraging – although it simultaneously made me feel like a complete failure because Matt seems to have used his struggle and turned it into something amazing. I’ve yet to accomplish anything! And I’m loving Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. I can’t believe I waited this long to read it, but again, I love it so much that I’m glad I saved it!

So what two books pictured above should I start reading? My instagram friends seem to have voted for Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me to be one of them (and if it’s short essay style like her other book was, that would work very well). But I’ve still to choose a second book…

What do you think it should be?


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