The Pleasure Of Unread Books

I recently learned the delicious Japanese word Tsundoku. This is the habit of buying books, of letting your to-read pile grow, of indulging in the sheer pleasure of unread books.

I have always loved having a shelf full of books I have yet to read. Some may be reference books or poetry books to dip into, but many are novels, memoirs, and biographies I will *one day* devour.

There is a psychological safety-net aspect to this acquisitiveness, if I’m honest. A terror of running out of reading matter. It feels like always taking an umbrella everywhere, even in glaring sunshine, as though I won’t be able to cope if there’s an unexpected downpour. It feels sort of desperate.

Tsundoku is the habit of buying books, of letting your to-read pile grow, of indulging in the sheer pleasure of unread books.

But there’s also a distinct feeling of pleasure when I survey the teetering pile of books I’ve bought, their spines uncracked, their mysteries unexplored. I have selected them for a reason (often forgotten by the time I take one to bed and cross its threshold). Forgive me, but it reminds me of catching the eye of an alluring stranger across a room – the possibility is thrilling.

I used to have a bookshelf that took up the entire wall of a room I liked to call ‘the library’. So much book space gave me the luxury of buying countless books. When I couldn’t sleep, I would often creep downstairs and survey my titles. So comforting.

This is my old ‘library’. I adore living in a simple, ordered, minimalistic home, but how I miss having so many books!

We now live in a smaller apartment and space is limited. I buy little, keep little, delight in order and minimalism. Still, I continue to indulge in tsundoku.

My current pile of unread novels.

The piles teeter less and must be curated carefully, but the pleasure of unread books remains.

The Pleasure Of Unread Books
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