A House Full Of Books = Tsundoku

When I moved across the country recently, the final tally of books was 43 boxes worth. And that was after giving away the equivalent of about a dozen more boxes’ worth to friends and colleagues.

People who come to my house often browse through the numerous bookcases and inevitably ask me “Have you read all these?” and the answer is “I think I’ve read close to half of them, the other half are in the queue.” Every so often I’d go through an inventory of sorts of what I’ve read, what I haven’t, what I’ll read again or what I’ll always want to keep around. And then the straining task of culling what I have to admit to myself that I will never read – something I’ll do every year or so – and then boxing it up to pass along to some other book hunter by donating to the thrift store or library.

And why the thinning of the book collection? Why, to make room for MORE books gathered at those very same library sales, thrift stores, or the occasional yard sale. There’s a library sale this Saturday I’m planning on as I write this.

I came across this article today about the value of having a house filled with to-be-read books and it certainly spoke to my existence. The central idea is that all the unread books are constant reminders of everything we do not know but can learn in our eternal quest for knowledge, and I like that. The Japanese term for it is “tsondoku.” The books make us smart and keep us humble all at the same time, perfect for Yom Kippur I guess, which begins tonight. So nice timing on that article, BigThink.com!


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