I am a practitioner of the ancient art of 'tsundoku'...

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I am a practitioner of the ancient art of 'tsundoku'...

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May 25, 2017, 12:26am

So the Japanese have a word for acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one's home without reading them (thanks Wikipedia) ... how very Floating World stylish of them!

I am so grateful to the posters in this group - just when I was despairing of the unread I realise that I am at least not yet waking up with books jabbing my ribs (my favourite image in this list so far).

May I ask for further consideration of the syndrome we suffer when we try to wean ourselves off by borrowing library books instead of buying? I am now borrowing too many (as well as still buying new books, though not as many) and, because they have a due date, I am reading these library books ahead of my own pile of unread books. It is slowing down my buying habit but not helping me with my own unread books. Any advice please?

May 25, 2017, 1:05am

I told myself I could not go to the library until I made a dent in the TBR. Unfortunately, the TBR is 95% nonfiction, some of it rather dense. So instead of blowing through a fiction book from the library every couple of days, I read one nonfiction all the way through every couple of months.

Fortunately (or not, depending on your point of view) I can't afford new books. But occasionally I have brought home light fiction from a giveaway table. Of course, I read that right away (and give it away right away) while the bookcase full of TBR continues to mock me.

I am mostly through with the current dense non-fiction, but now I'm too tired to concentrate on anything that heavy, so it'll sit there on the bedside table, silently judging me.

May 25, 2017, 8:10am

>1 Renabur:, that is fascinating the Japanese have a word for it. I wonder if that occurs in any other language?

The challenge groups here are pretty good for making you list what you plan to read in the next 12 months; for example you could pledge to polish off 24 from your own collection, and allow yourself as many library reads as you're able with all your remaining free time: https://www.librarything.com/groups/tbrchallenge

>2 PhaedraB:, I've had some books sit in the house for months, and even though I know eventually I'm going to let them go unread, they need to age quite a while before I finally say goodbye. I usually recognize them by that "judging" quality gradually overtaking my anticipation. Even recognizing them, I leave them sit until I'm good and tired of them staring at me. Then I can let go without feeling bad.

May 28, 2017, 12:06pm

Same here. I have to wait until the emotional statute of limitations has passed before I can let a book go (if it's unread or just ok). If the book is bad I'll chuck it on the giveaway pile right away.

Edited: Jun 16, 2017, 4:22pm

>4 reconditereader: "I have to wait until the emotional statute of limitations has passed before I can let a book go."

That is precisely how I feel! Now that you've put it into words I feel much better about that vague, amorphous feeling I could never put a name to.

My sister has managed to use the library to her advantage. She also always borrows the maximum books, yes, but she's not really buying books anymore unless they are new releases by favorite authors, or she has read it from her library stash and decides she wants her own copy. Would-be impulse buys become wait-listed holds instead.

Unfortunately, borrowing from libraries has never worked for me at all because I don't enjoy it. My looong emotional statute of limitations begins the moment I touch something. I don't borrow _anything_ because I don't like to give things back. If I read a library book that I liked you'd have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands to ever see it again so it's best for everyone if I just don't have a library card.

Edited: Mar 2, 2018, 10:51pm

>3 Cecrow: Yes, thanks, Cecrow, a sort of numerical pledge is the way to go for me. I am willing to make myself the commitment to reduce the pile at a certain rate, rather than setting out in advance precisely what I intend to read. But that will help! Of course in the meantime I have been drawn back to re-reading all of my Fandorin detective stories, but that is a different issue entirely...

>2 PhaedraB: the non-fiction pile is daunting, but I am giving myself permission to read at different depths, depending upon the readability of the book. A proper 2-month read, though, is of a different order and has its own challenges re choice and lost opportunities to read other things that go beyond mere tsundoku. I would be interested to know how you select your non-fiction undertakings.

>4 reconditereader: chucking right away, yes! I admire that chutzpah.

>5 macsbrains: your sister’s approach has helped reduce my book buying significantly. I have read and enjoyed some Kate Atkinson novels and even a couple of Ellis Peters comfort reads that I do not wish to own, but am glad to have read. I bought some recent David Mitchell novels but not the very early ones after first enjoying them as library books. I also ‘test-read’ my beloved Lincoln in the Bardo before welcoming it into my library.

Edited: Mar 3, 2018, 3:05am

An Austrian politician who had studied 'Anglistik' died recently. He bought lots of heavy nonfiction in English on history and current affairs. Over 30 000 media were donated to the Vienna public library after his death. Lots of them I am fairly sure he never got around to reading. These are books I didn't know existed, and couldn't have afforded. And now my library pile is full of all of this wonderful, heavy nonfiction. I have to be careful NOT to borrow each book from that display that cries out to me.

The Bin Ladens
Sea of faith : Islam and Christianity in the Medieval Mediterranean world
Empires and barbarians
The hare with amber eyes (not heavy, but Viennese issues)

But also fiction new and old that I am enjoying
Oroonoko; or, The royal slave (This one had been well used.)
The godfather
A book of common prayer

So just remember that practicing tsundoku can create issues for others after you are gone.
If only the books weren't so interesting! Luckily the count includes a lot of CDs, and even the books include thrillers and other things I'm not interested in, but even so.

Of course if I could afford to buy every book regardless of size or price that appealls to me, we'd need another house to keep them in. And there would be at least that many to get rid of after my death.