Each time I've moved in my life, my books always came with me. There are boxes full of them but to me, a sign of being "home" is an overstuffed bookshelf. A small portion of them I have read, but many I have not. I started my collection in college -- buying some for classes and purchasing a few at various library sales -- all in the name of my literary bucket list. Then I married a man who is also a book lover and our collections doubled in size even after the duplicates were weeded out.
A few years ago, I finally got a Kindle. Has that curbed my book hoarding? Absolutely not. If anything, it encourages it because I don’t have to trip over the piles of books on the floor. Now I can stuff the “cloud” full of my $1.99 deals of the day.
Apparently, I'm not alone in this pursuit. Lots of you are hoarding books because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to read them all. The Japanese have a word for this: tsundoku. It's a combination of the words for reading and letting something pile up, and comes from a long tradition of Japanese words that encapsulate a concept so succinctly. For example, komorebi is the way the sunlight shines through the leaves on a sunny day and shinrinyoku literally means “forest bath,” which is the restorative nature of walking through the woods.
Although your bookshelf may seem cluttered, Tsundoku is actually a beautiful idea -- it’s a word full of promise, something to look forward to or a pile of gifts for you to open at a later date. These books are there for a reason, right? They were once important enough for you to buy or borrow and bring them into your home, and now you just need to decide when the time is right to read them. Or you can continue to bump them down your to-read list while keeping fresher finds at the top.
Don’t be ashamed of your tsundoku. It’s not clutter -- it’s optimism that you’re going to better yourself one day. Maybe you’ll get through those books, maybe you won’t. It’s OK either way because it’s your pile. Let your slob flag fly and embrace your clutter, especially when that clutter will make you a better person.