Or, you can never have enough books.
Very poignant essay and impactful advice on how to unburden the pile. I tend to collect books without reading, but I should really start reading instead. I would also suggest to read through a pile before buying more books. And then buy books as a reward for reading!
In the process of getting rid of most of possessions when I moved abroad a few years ago, I called all my friends and asked them to take my books. I wanted to find good homes for my books, but it was also one way to strengthen my connection with these friends I was leaving behind. Books can help us connect with people and the world around us in so many ways...
love this post - one ♥️ isn’t enough. books, ephemera, I’m obsessed with all things paper.
I did a serious edit a few years past, donating some to an art center knowing full well they would most likely begin a new adventure as art in the hands of others. Equally, I mailed quite a few well-loved books to friends, which then became beautifully circular conversations between us.
Then the pandemic, and my collection once again ballooned... . .. I do my best to cull through what i have before acquiring more... . .. but what I really need is to become a better library patron.
thanks for all of this ~
“the concept of "tsundoku" - the Japanese word for acquiring books and letting them pile up, unread - intersects with the art of coping with loneliness.” I have piles on my desk, my desk is a mess, I have piles on my nightstand, I have very few bookshelves and books are piled into it in Tetris style because I simply have no space 😅 I can so relate to tsundoku!
Love this -- my books have gone around the world with me. Murakami is a favorite of mine and I used to teach Kafka on the Shore -- never disappoints! For that reason I've read it several times. I'm eager to try your Macfarlane and Kingsolver recs. We read Bean Trees way back in high school and I remember loving it. Will need to give her another go.
Please let me have all the books, even if I've nowhere to store them and am constantly carting suitcases of books from one side of the Atlantic to the other! ;)
We can learn so many things from your newsletter... Thank you!
I hope that the books I have acquired will all be read or reread. I feel a house is not a home without a few (okay many) book shelves. I love the photos you have included.
Though it is interesting when you merge a household with another (when I married), you end up with a lot of books that you probably would not have bought, and only vaguely feel you would ever read. Then, after he died, when I was lonely, I felt I could not part with them.
Wow. This answered a lot of questions for me, while also giving me twice as many new ones. But at least I know what to call it when people ask why I collect books without reading them. “I’ll get to it.”
Thanks for making this insightful comparison between books and loneliness. I had no idea there was a word for the piling up of things - I can definitely see that in my stacks of paperwork that I keep procrastinating!
I have tried not to bring too many books home from the library at once because I find that I lose steam before making it through all of them. The dopamine hit of exciting newness wears off so quickly, I find it better to pace myself and actually engage, such as you recommend.
This a great piece and perfect way to end the week. I love this -- "The phenomenon of tsundoku and the challenge of coping with loneliness both highlight the human desire for connection and meaning. While tsundoku might offer temporary comfort through the promise of future exploration, and loneliness might lead to seeking superficial distractions, the true solutions lie in active engagement." Thank you for sharing your insights.
Is digital Tsundoku a thing? I have a lot of saved articles (including Substack posts!) I swear I'm going to read!
Tsundoku! What a wonderful, new word I learn today. Thanks LRT. Great read. I'm guilty of tsundoku myself, though I do try to ensure I get to those books eventually. There's something magical about physical books though, that their mere presence can elicit, even when unread.
Kafka on the Shore is a wondrous book, though it isn't my favourite of Murakami's. That honour goes in equal parts to Wind Up Bird and 1Q84.
I enjoyed reading this and now I believe that Kafka on the Shore as well as The Lacuna will now be added to my Tbr list💜
I also fully, 💯% accept that I will be a lifelong tsundoku human with both physical books and e-books🤣
Also, I feel that this will be one of my personal favorite essays that you’ve written💞
I'm constantly throwing out books to make space for more. I think that's healthier than keeping books I haven't looked at for years. They're only books, and shouldn't be badges of your sophistication.