Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Tsundoku


The long-term tsunkdoku
I fear that the Japanese have been peeking into my bedroom. I can think of no other explanation for tsundoku, which is their word for a pile of books that you've bought and haven't got round to reading yet.

In fact, I'm not entirely clear whether tsundoku is the act of buying a book and not reading it, or the pile of books thusly abandoned on a bedside table. Or maybe it's both. Either way, it's a portmanteau of tsumu (to pile up) and doku (to read), and the verb is tsundeoku.

I actually have two tsundokus: one long-term tsundoku on the table in the corner, from which a book may, if it works very hard, graduate to the short-term tsundoku on my bedside table.

I suspect that those nosy Japanese have only seen the first one, as it's right by the window.

In other news, my short story The Servant will be available from tomorrow as a Kindle Single. It's a mystery story about a chap coming to terms with his own bottom, and you can order it now by following this link. As it only costs £1.19 it won't even matter that much if you consign forever to a virtual, ethereal, invisible tsundoku.

The short-term tsundoku

12 comments:

  1. Glad to be introduced to this term. I have the two tsundoku you mention, plus another in a separate room... probably at least forty books total. This does not include the stack of ten sudoku books that have been passed to me from my spouse. She does the ones in the front and leaves the 'challenger' level ones for me!

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  2. I have a nightstand heavy with tsundoku.

    I also have a virtual tnusdoku of books around the house that I'd like to re-read. Is there a word for this yet...?

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  3. Tsundoku, a word that will roll right off my tongue daily from now on, until, that is, the various ones now in my garage will have been sorted and stored on our book cases. We have recently moved...

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  4. So there's a word for it? My home is a shrine to tsundoku, must be the chief form of interior furnishing for me.

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  5. Umberto Eco once said, as someone asked him whether he had read all the books on his bookshelf, the best answer would be yes, those are the books to be read in this month. And all the others he had stored them in his office somewhere else.

    Isn't it splendour, Eco's whole liberary as a short-term tsundoku.

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  7. Tsundeoku is the verb that the creator of the word Tsudoku aimed to make it sound like. It is the future form of Tsumu, which hints that the act of piling up is done with a follow up in a future point of time in mind (i.e., reading it in the future) and it bears a nuance of the meaning "just in case/prepare for the unknown". (So it really should not be used as a noun as the Japanese is an act-form language, but since the English is a noun language it inevitably became so.) Both meanings of Tsundeoku shows that there is a purpose in the act. So to your question, well, Tsudoku hints that you do intend to read the books, and you pile them with that same intention in mind -- just that you do not have a definite point of time as to when to read them, only that it is always "in the future". I hope I am making sense.

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  8. My friend has tsundoku. She always goes to the book store and buy herself books that she doesn't really seem to get through any of them. In my situation, I have short term Tsundoku because I usually finish books and shelf them.

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  9. I am wondering what exactly do you mean by saying long-term Tsundoku? Is it like saying that you been having the books for a long time period or just having big books?

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  10. I am wondering what exactly do you mean by saying long-term Tsundoku? Is it like saying that you been having the books for a long time period or just having big books?

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  12. If someone had switched to only using a Kindle, they might have a tsundokindlu. Is there another word for a portmanteau that is made from combining three words?

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