Demystifying Tsundoku

I’m sitting very diligently in 91 springboards minding others minds. Otherwise, listening Ungle Appukuttan or gaining knowledge from Mathrubhutam. I realized that it was 1st of July and July 1944 we lost the independence that the Japanese helped us gain through the battle of Imphal. We had gained freedom thanks to Indian National Army on Oct. 21st 1943 it is confusing, and the coffee machine is vending chai that too cardamom tea… how blasphemous anyway since it is Thursday I thought I will close the indispire of the week till Packadseat Mani comes up, ‘yenna doctor oru-oru podlama?’ of course daa he is talking about the coffee he carries all the way from Tenkasi. 

Coming back to indispire, ‘Tsundoku’ is apparently a Japanese word. Now I realize what evoked the obscure memory of the battle of Imphal. I’m convinced that the Japanese are stealthily entering into our life, gentleman Joshua from mango meadows talks profoundly of interiors called Japandi which Googleamma assures me is a combination of Scandinavian and Japanese interiors which is essential scantinavian in nature. Then trainer Ilangovan came up with this ‘Ikigai-model’ for living. If this was not enough, my cousin Rekha Hande calls up saying she is resuming her pre-Miss India days hobby of  Ikebana, before that of course one more of the project manager comes with Kanban and the next with Kaizan. I’ll convinced that the Japanese are invading I mean look at Anuradha Sowmyanarayana  coming up Tsundoku 

By the finally after compromising in life and having instant Bru, I figured Tsundoku has nothing to do with my mother’s addiction Sudoku, but is associated with my father’s addiction of buying books. I remember amma’s complaints in order of my memory

  • He reads two or three books at the same time, can’t he finish one book and then read the next.
  • I don’t know why he buys them some are not even opened from their wrappers.

Well I plead guilty. However coming back to Tsundoku, ( not to be mixed with Tsunami, Sudoku etc.) according Professor Andrew Gerstle…quite a few bloggers visited him over the week.  So he has taken a lesson from the Puneri’s and posted this on his gate. ‘Tsundoko is  a Japanese word that comes from the root words tsun which means piled up and duko which is a verb for reading.’ So what’s the big deal?  Every student from every corner of the world will quote Balagangadhar Tilak say, ‘it’s my birthright to pile the text till the night before the exam’ this trait could be a lingering effect.

In the western world it is a kind of mockery to teachers who collect and stack book and not read them. While the Japanese understand that the intent to read is there.  While a person who has bibliomania or a fad to collect books is Otaka or a collector. The word Tsundoku debuted in the Meiji period of Japanese History that is during 1868-1912

To lot of people the stack of unread books collecting dust would be shame, an image of failure  hijacking the original excitement of buying the book. All said and done, we still value the book. Like my daughter tells me there is something in the smell of a new book. So I do not read new book until she opens and has her fill of fragrance.

Another of my patients told me, he actually waits a week before he reads a new book, as each time he sees the book there is the thrill and  the anticipation of discovering something new.

There is an optimist somewhere when the book is being bought that he or she will have the time to read it.  Actually when you look at a person’s book collection you can get an insight into that person’s personality.

 When I attended a book conference by publishing next   the owner of Vani Prakashana shared a facebook post which was written by a young man who got his first salary. It said of course in Hindi, ‘ I received my first salary today, sent money to my parents, paid the landlord and the lunch dabba person,  bought two books for myself, for the first time in my life I could afford it.”  Somewhere owning the books gives us a kind of value.

In my own case I have about 15 books that I have not yet read. Though I realized I was re-reading fiction. What is stopping me is that I have committed to completing the book and posting a review. This is my commitment to myself. Though earlier I did do it for companies ever since Amazon cheated me I do not review books professionally unless I know the company is reliable or I know the author.

For those who want to get rid of the Tsundoku habit:

  • Don’t buy a new book until you have finished the old ones, or don’t buy more 3 books in a month.
  • If you have not read the book in 3 months give it away  or resell it.
  • Don’t buy a book until it really interests you.
  • JOIN A LIBRARY so you will read without having to buy and maintain the books.

By  the way many bibliomaniacs are driven by the need to buy books and post them on bookstagram!

for Indispire #380

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