Tsundoku and New Year’s Resolutions

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 Last year, or it might have been the year before, I’ve forgotten now, I made a New Year’s resolution. It was simple. It was possibly achievable. And it was only a-distant-third-cousin-twice-removed relation to body weight (as many resolutions focus on). It was: Want Less.

I don’t know how successful I’ve been. I’m not sure how to measure it. But I can tell you that since setting it as my goal I’m a lot more aware of when I find myself wanting things. Especially when it comes to vocalising that want. This is completely separate from needing, and has highlighted that difference to me too. I don’t deny myself wanting, I simply limit it to things that I really really really want: that author’s new book; this singer’s new album. But not everything that catches my eye/ear/imagination.

So when I realised that I have so many unread books and I’m constantly adding to them, a good friend said, “There’s a word for that.” And there is. It’s called tsundoku.


So what does one do when one owns 1,600-odd books and 550 of them are unread? One realises that their hovering New Year’s resolution is applicable to their reading/shopping life and that something can be done – if one wants to. 

So, while I set myself the same resolution for another year, I’m applying it more severely to my book-accruement. I think that if I set myself the rule that I’m not to add any more books to my already groaning shelves with a few exceptions as well as I’m not going to read anything I don’t already own with a few exceptions then I should make a dent in that one-third of the books I own and haven’t read.

The exceptions, you ask? 

Well, as far as acquiring books goes, the exceptions are basically author related. If they are one of my favourites, then it’s going to be bought regardless, so why fluff about, eh? When it comes to reading, I’m required to do a fair bit of that for my work, so that’s a clear exception. The other is Book Club. I think I need to keep reading those books, if I’m going to maintain my attendance. Luckily for me the first book we’re reading for the year is one that is already on my shelf! Two birds and all that, a good start to the year, the stars aligned. I wonder how long I can convince the other members to keep reading things I’ve already bought. I will have to weigh up the pros and cons of getting book club books from the library or the bookshop, but that’ll be case by case I think. 

So, what to do with all those books I come across or am recommended that aren’t essential reading or I already own? Isn’t that what Goodreads’ To-Read list is for? Well it’s going to get a work out in 2015, I know that much.

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