Friday, May 17, 2013

Tsundoku

I love coming across words or phrases in other languages which neatly express things which English can only describe more clumsily.

Life would be so much more verbose if we didn't have l'esprit d'escalier, gem├╝tlichkeit or in vino veritas.

Now Japanese has given us a single word for this phenomenon so common to bibliophiles around the world. One reader commented, "I don't know whether I feel better or worse that there's a word for it."  Well, yes -- there is the aspect of compulsive consumerism, of buying more than one needs -- but I believe that most people at risk of a tsundoku tsunami in their own homes do eventually read most of the books. And in the meantime, tsundoku gives us comfort, hope and fortitude. If we soldier on through our work and chores, we can rest easy knowing that we have plenty of good books on hand.

2 comments:

  1. Oh dear God, I am not the only one, then! This has been one aspect of my life which has filled me with shame, guilt and anxiety!

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    Replies
    1. Thank heaven for e-books. My tsundoku is electronic. It's still a case of obsessive compulsion, but at least it won't topple over onto my head and bury me alive.

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