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"Tsundoku," the Japanese Word for the New Books That Pile Up on Our Shelves, Should Enter the English Language

Tsundoku the Japanese Word for the New Books That Pile Up on Our Shelves Should Enter the English Language Open Culture


The illustration above was made when Redditor Wemedge asked his daughter to illustrate the word “Tsundoku,” and she did not disappoint.

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Everyone at some point converts from an avid reader to a collector.  Whether it's book, videos, games, startup companies, whatever.  Tsundoku is for people who don't have time for hobbies.

Is there a way to undo collecting? I need to find a place that will help me sell all this stuff!

Okay, now where do I sell used collectibles like Simpsons toys, South Park toys, etc.? :)

Depends on how they were used.

But srsly, eBay.

My problem with eBay is: Ain't nobody got time for that. 

What I need is a company that will eBay for me. 

@Adam I've had some luck selling things on Amazon.  They make it really easy and it was much faster than Craigslist plus I think people are willing to pay more.  They do take a pretty penny for the convenience though.

Thanks for the perspective Edward. I will look into Amazon. 

Guilty!  but I haven't bought a new book in a couple years so I can work through my pile! and I'm still a real book person, tried one of the first electronic books and didn't like it, I'll try again  at some point ;)

You're lucky you have just one pile. 

i just turned a wall into a giant bookshelf to hold my many piles of unread (and supposedly marvelous) reads!  i do hope i get to them all...

Just curious how long you think it would take to get to them all.

that's a good question!  if i didn't buy another book and just read from my tsundoku, it would probably take me two years.  but i haven't read ANYTHING for a long while.  i would have to go back to my book-a-week routine to make that happen. 

The feeling of being two years behind is not a good feeling. 

On the other hand the feeling of anticipation of a good read IS a good feeling. 

yeah. some of them may never get read because i am no longer all that interested in the subject, but others are like quiet promises of a good time. :)

many are classics i felt my library ought to have. 

Emily I hear us!

There are few things I find as satisfying as giving away a book I know I'm no longer going to use. 

Something about finding it a new home really appeals to me. 

That Read or Die Wikipedia entry is pretty wonderful.

As is the video:

I need to find 90 minutes to watch it all!

Thanks! It's one of my favorite animes.

Looks great. Reminds me of Ghost in the Shell.

I enjoyed this write up from the original article:

There are some words out there that are brilliantly evocative and at the same time impossible to fully translate. Yiddish has the word shlimazl, which basically means a perpetually unlucky person. German has the word Backpfeifengesicht, which roughly means a face that is badly in need of a fist. And then there’s the Japanese word tsundoku, which perfectly describes the state of my apartment. It means buying books and letting them pile up unread.

The word dates back to the very beginning of modern Japan, the Meiji era (1868-1912) and has its origins in a pun. Tsundoku, which literally means reading pile, is written in Japanese as 積ん読. Tsunde oku means to let something pile up and is written 積んでおく. Some wag around the turn of the century swapped out that oku(おく) in tsunde oku for doku (読) – meaning to read. Then since tsunde doku is hard to say, the word got mushed together to form tsundoku.

As with other Japanese words like karaoke, tsunami, and otaku, I think it’s high time that tsundoku enter the English language. Now if only we can figure out a word to describe unread ebooks that languish on your Kindle. E-tsundoku? Tsunkindle? Visit our collection of Free eBooks and contemplate the matter for a while.

tsundoku is a beautiful word.  :)

that german word is excellent, too!  if only i knew how to pronounce it.  funny that the germans come up with these mostly-mean-but-also-true words like this one and schadenfreude.


"Schadenfreude - you have to FEEL it"

that was perfect.  and very hard to pronounce!!

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