Tsundoku: Books You've Bought But Never Got Around To Reading

The concept of tsundoku is currently making the rounds:

“Do you have a habit of picking up books that you never quite get around to reading? If this sounds like you, you might be unwittingly engaging in tsundoku - a Japanese term used to describe a person who owns a lot of unread literature.”

I’ve got mine down to about half-a-dozen that remain stubbornly unread. From Dawn To Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, by Jaques Barzun, Mirror Mirror: A History of the Human Love Affair With Reflection, by Mark Pendergrast, Waitangi: Maori and Pakeha Perspectives of the Treaty of Waitangi, by I. H. Kawharu. All deep and worthy titles with which I am going to completely improve my brain, just as I soon as I finish this, uh, Bernard Cornwell book about Saxons bashing Vikings. There are a couple of novels in there, too, though: the Man-Booker winning Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton, which I don’t think anyone has ever finished, and All The World’s a Stage, by Boris Akunin, which isn’t physically in the pile but has been checked out from the library and returned unread no fewer than three times. I love Boris Akunin, the Erast Fandorin novels are great, but not borrowing and not starting this particular title seems to have taken on its own momentum for me.

So what are your tsundoku?

The Greeks, volume 2 of Will & Ariel Durant’s 11-volume The Story of Civilization. Read the others, some multiple times, but have never made it through this one.


Because I can never remember the names. Get about 50, 75 pages in and they all start to sound the same.

I probably have a few hundred books I haven’t read. Some I’ve been meaning to get to for decades.

Since I collect sf books and magazines, I have about 2,000 I haven’t read yet. I’m working on it now I’m retired. For instance I’m working on Asimove’s SF magazine from late 1999 now, though I have read the last four years worth.
I also have about 75 Perry Rhodans to read - I found ones I didn’t have for ten cents each once.
I figure at my current rate I should get done if I live to 110 or so.

I’ve got dozens. I love going to used book stores but when I see something I want I do take into consideration whether I’m going to get around to reading it before I die.:slight_smile:

At least a couple hundred. Though I have quite a few physical books that I haven’t read, the ease & cheapness of Kindle books have upped my book-hoarding tendencies by a huge amount. I subscribe to several “e-Book Deals” email lists, and if something comes through for $2-$3 that looks remotely interesting, I’m an easy sell. I don’t have to find storage space, it’ll last forever (or until Amazon goes kaput, which I’m not too worried about), and I’ll eventually get around to reading it.

The Kindle put an end to that. Once upon a time, I had piles and piles of unread books. Now I have 197 book samples on my Kindle - I won’t buy until I’ve read the sample and am confident that I will want to read the entire thing.

I do have 4 books on the Kindle that I bought and then couldn’t finish, and a few free or gift books that I haven’t read yet. But mostly I just download the samples and never pay until I’m actually ready to read the book.

I’ve always referred to these kind of books as not being ripe yet. When the time is right, I’ll read them. Probably. There’s a bunch on my Kindle too.

We crafters have an acronym called SABLE: Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy.

For starters, I have over 5,000 items in my online resale inventory, although most of them are things that don’t interest me but have resale value, mostly kids’ books, craft pattern booklets, sheet music, and assorted vintage magazines. I do have a copy of just about every classic you could think of, including most of Shakespeare.

As for things I did purchase with the intent of someday ready (but haven’t), they do include “Life of Pi” and “Cutting For Stone”, as well as a lot of other things most of (generic) you have probably never heard of.

I have a number of reference books (e.g. atlas, unabridged dictionary, CIA World Factbook, single-volume encyclopedia) that I bought in the pre-Wikipedia era. I probably won’t look at them again.

I read a quote years ago - sorry, no idea who said it - that has stuck with me:

“Who wants a shelf-full of books they’ve already read?”

A few months ago I threw out the remaining volumes of the World Book encyclopedia I had since I was a kid. The edition I had was published in the late 1970s so most of the information was out-dated anyway. I still wish I had kept the Childcraft encyclopedia set I had though.

There a few books I’ve already read that I like to read again occasionally. Replay by Ken Grimwood and The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold among them.

I love old atlases.

Book of the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe

Read the New Sun, have the Long Sun downstairs in new condition. I just can’t seem to get myself to get going.

I saw that Audible just released a new audio version of Wizard Knight. I kind of hope they release a pro-audio of Long Sun, much as they did with New Sun.

I like to mix-up audio and regular reading.