Uniquely Japanese- Tsundoku

Some Japanese words have no English equivalent. This is the case for many languages, where there is no literal translation, or if there was, it would not make sense. Many of the Japanese words, that are not in the English language are beautiful, some tragically so.

Today, I am going to talk about my favourite of these words. It is my favourite, because if you could see a visual of my bedside table, you would understand completely that this word speaks directly to my soul. ☺

Tsundoku is the collecting of books, which pile up and may remain unread. I have a pile on my bedside table, which gets increasingly bigger, and although I read everyday, my penchant for buying books means the pile is unlikely to ever decrease.

I find myself, in a bookshop, drawn to the books, the touch, the smell, the feel. I wonder if the purchasing of books to read ‘in the future’ gives us a sense of timeless longevity, of immortality, of time (which most of us do not have enough of) stretching out before us, unfilled and unencumbered by responsibilities. Of hours awaiting to be filled with laying around, reading, on the couch, in the bath, even on the train. Or is that just my secret fantasy daydream?

Tsundoku is a compound of  積む (tsumu- to pile up), 読 (doku- to read) and then a contraction of 積んでおく (tsundeoku- to leave piled up).

I love the Japanese language. It far out-romanticizes French, for me. (I also studied French for a couple of years). I am still a beginner, but it is such a satisfying language to learn. The kanji radicals, the nuanced meanings. It is a bit cerebral, and it certainly gets my neural pathways firing!!!!

4 thoughts on “Uniquely Japanese- Tsundoku

  1. Tsundoku – I love that the Japanese have a word for the collecting of books – that’s me too!

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