There’s A Japanese Word For People Who Buy More Books Than They Can Actually Read


I’d plead guilty, except that I actually do read the books I pile up. Maybe not immediately, but my hoard has gotten me through periods of depression and unemployment.
As for why you do it, as most book-hoarders know (especially genre fans) a lot of those books won’t be reprinted, probably won’t be in your typical library, and will be all but impossible to get. This is particularly true of science fiction and mystery books. heck, I started collecting Jules Verne novels when I saw the abysmal collections in bookstores and libraries. even classic science fiction (except for a lucky few – Clark, Asimov, Heinlein, Herbert, Bradbury, Dick) is out of print. try to find Fredric Brown, L. Sprague de Camp, or Cordwainer Smith these days. If I were a western fan, I’d feel the lack of Louis l’amour and Zane Grey and lots of others.

About three years ago a friend of my wife wanted me to donate some books to her church. I stood staring at all of these shelves and shelves of books and couldn’t make of my mind. On a whim I just said “take them all.”

I realized some I was never going to read, I kept reading some of the same ones over and over. I ended up keeping five and have not bought a physical book since.

Hardcover: Lord of the Rings, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
Paperback: Dracula, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Armor

People still buy books for me but I either read them right away or re-gift them. The only way I can avoid the hoarding trap is constant vigilance.

From what you quoted

My bolding.

HuffPo is incorrect. The first character is 積, “tsu(mu)” but the second is 読, “doku” meaning “read.” It’s a pun on “tsundeoku” which normally carries separate meanings for both “tsu(mu)” and “oku.” “tsu(me)” also means to pack (a car or a suitcase) and “oku” means to do something in advance. So “tsundeoku” means to pack something in your car just in case it’s needed. An extra umbrella, for example.

Japanese coin new words quite frequently, and this one seems quite recent. There is a lot of articles in Japanese giving the explanation of the word, so it’s obviously not in common usage.

It has caught on pretty firmly on one corner of the English language internet as Mount Tsundoku or Mt. Tsundoku as a reference to an ever-growing TBR (to be read) pile. (I didn’t coin the phrase Mount Tsundoku, but I did make the post that led to the coining of the phrase.)