What does the Japanese word tsundoku mean

What does tsundoko / tsundoku mean? Meaning, definition, translation


"Tsundoku" is a Japanese expression for someone who buys a book but does not read it immediately, but puts it in a pile with other books. This creates small towers of unread books.

In particular, Tsundoku is about books being bought or collected, but there is no intention to read them.

"Tsundoko" consists of two parts of the word:

  • “Tsunde-oku” means that things are stacked for later. ("Tsumu" means in German: "to stack")
  • "Dokusho" simply means "read books." ("Doku" means "read".)

So "Tsundoku" is the stack of books for later. Literally, “Tsundoku” can mean in German: reading pile.

In its written Japanese form, Tsundoku includes the term for stack ("積") and for reading ("読").

The term "Tsundoku" originated as a Japanese term during the Meiji era (1868 to 1912).

Both spellings (with “u” or “o” at the end are common:

What helps against tsundoku?

Everyone knows that you buy books in the hope of reading them and a little later they just end up in a pile. The joy of reading the book as quickly as possible when buying it is not what you get. Those who do this repeatedly collect stacks of books in their apartment with unread books that look beautiful, but can also become ballast, as they always remind you that you wanted to read them.

So what helps against Tsundoku? Very easily. One rule helps:

Don't buy a new book until you've read the one you bought before.

If you stick to this rule, you are well on your way not to build towers of remembrance of your laziness.

Of course, books can be beautiful and decorate your home. Some adorn themselves with large bookshelves, as this exudes wisdom and knowledge. But think about it when your guests ask you whether you've read the eighteenth book in the fifth row and you wonder whether you are lying or not.

Tsundoku and Bibliomania

“Tsundoku” can be compared to “bibliomania”, the exaggerated passion for collecting books. The expression “bibliomania” and collecting itself had negative connotations up to the end of the 17th century - as impotence and incomprehension, since contemporaries could not imagine that a person could read so many books. Only then - at the beginning of the 18th century - did this change and bibliophilia arose, i.e. the love of books.

More about Tsundoko / Tsundoku

  • Tsundoku is the name of a book podcast.
  • Tsundoku is the name of a book by Samauel Smith and Nora Racho.
  • Tsundoku is the name of a song by Riley McMonigold.
  • The phrase "Tsundoku" is printed on bags. These are sold through Amazon, among others.
  • "Tsundoku" is the name of a musician.

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