Recently, my youngest sister sent me this new word that for some reason made her think of me. Now, to start with, we were raised by the same father who loved few things more than to find an interesting new word so we both get this fascination naturally – along with a love of books and reading.
Her note read, “Enjoyed reading your blog today . . . your lead that referred to your stack of books yet to be read reminded me of a word (new to me) that I ran across yesterday . . . it was quite suitable for me in that I don’t always get to all the books in my stack(s). I know that you do. Nonetheless, I thought I would share: tsundoku.”
I first saw its similarity to “Sudoku,” but the meanings are only vaguely related by their heritage in the Japanese language. I like that puzzle, too, and its name has a longer and more international heritage than I have room for here, but it basically comes from the Japanese meaning of “single number.”
Evidently, the use of the word “tsundoku” has only recently become very popular, although its practice has proliferated among book lovers for years. Its meaning boils down to piling up a stack of books that far exceeds one’s ability to read them.
I liked the word and Ruth’s supposition that I might actually finish my “books to be read” list. However – the stack in the picture began as books that need to be read soon. It does not cover those scattered about the house that I’m going to get around to. I have an additional problem that occurs with friends like mine who, wanting to add to my reading pleasure, begin a conversation with, “Oh, you just have to read . . .”, and so grows the list.
The Preacher in Ecclesiastes warns that “The writing of many books is endless,” so I am guessing tsundoku is here to stay. Now if I can just get to that book on the bottom of the stack that looks intriguing.