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Libraries and bookstores have countless books we’ll never read, and a lot of us have a shelf or two at home filled with unread books. While that doesn’t mean we’re planning to open our own library or bookstore, does that make us collectors or hoarders? And what if we’re planning on eventually reading them?

No Hoarding In Japan

You wouldn’t be known as a hoarder in Japan. There, you’d be practicing the art of tsundoku. Unlike a hoarder, there’s no negative connotation associated with tsundoku. There are book collectors worldwide, but for those of us who aren’t collectors and have a lot of unread books lying around, tsundoku is for us.

It merely means you hope to one day read the books you’ve purchased. Of course, whether you do or not is an entirely different story.

Two Words In One

Tsundoku was originally a Japanese slang word. It’s actually made up of two Japanese words: tsumu (“to pile up”) and doku (“to read”). While Western countries use the term pack rat to describe people who have an abundance of books or other things, Japan doesn’t see anything wrong with your pile of unread books.

If you’re doing tsundoku, then you’re planning on reading those books someday. But until then you merely have a lot of unread books in your possession.

Buying Books To Read Later

So every time you buy a book and it sits there on your shelf unread, you no longer need to feel guilty. You’re now taking part of a centuries-old tradition in Japan. You may be tempted to read one of those books, thus removing it from your shelf.

That’s okay, though; you can get right back to practicing tsundokuby visiting your local bookstore or ordering something from Amazon.