Do you love buying books? In a previous post I explored different ways of displaying books in our homes and I may have mentioned that I am a bit of a hoarder when it comes to books. They add that extra something to a space, don’t you think? So much so that sometimes they are used as styling props simply because they look good in photos of interiors and they complement the colour palette. That’s why we have ‘coffee table books’. I mean, hello, Tom Ford, Kinfolk, Assouline? They must be the most Instagrammed books. Pretty much like you can’t photograph a bathroom anymore these days without the Aesop hand wash as a prop, am I right?
Decorative or not, books are an important part of our homes and our lives. I don’t read as much as I would like to these days (not as much as I used to, anyway), but I continue to buy them hoping that I would live long enough to eventually read them. Until recently, I used to feel guilty about it, but not anymore. Not since I’ve heard of tsundoku. Tsundoku basically refers to buying books and allowing them to pile up without reading them.
I moved houses recently and realised how many, how very many boxes I needed for all the books. Some I’ve read, some not yet. Can you relate? Are books piling up in your house faster than you get to read them? Don’t feel guilty about it. It seems this habit has benefits. Sure, there are people who simply collect books for the sake of collecting, but tsundoku is different.
Being surrounded by books that are waiting to be read is not just good because they make you look like a well read person ;-), or your space look nice. It is good because it nurtures our need to read and our thirst of knowledge. Buying new books and surrounding ourselves by them is what keeps our desire to read alive and ongoing. Our need to know, and our reminder of what we don’t know.
The more you know, the more you know you don’t know, said Aristotle. We all need to be reminded this every day, and our unread books can do that. This awareness is beneficial for our mind and for our soul equally. A thirst for knowledge and a touch of humility. And this awareness will also help you manage the impulse to overbuy books or to buy books just for the sake of buying or for whatever other reason, like because they look pretty or they’re on sale or we just can’t control that urge.
Some people believe tsundoku is an art, some call it joy, some… a joyful art. Others believe it’s a psychological disorder. What do you think? Please leave a comment below, I’d like to hear your thoughts.