How Big Is Your Book Pile?

19.03.21 08:08 PM By Shanley

The Art of Tsundoku

Books have always played a big role in my life. I recall eagerly opening presents each Christmas, unwrapping the likes of "The Chronicles of Narnia" by C. S. Lewis and "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett (which still reside on my bookshelf today). As a child who moved a lot, books were my non-judgemental friends. Worlds I could visit from any (new) home. I devoured books. Neighborhood kids would come and ask if I would play, and I would tell them, "Sorry, I'm reading" and not feel a lick of guilt. I can't even count the number of times I've stayed up reading into the wee hours of the night/morning LONG after my bedtime.

If you're anything like me, you may have a pile (or two) of unread books in your home. The Japanese refer to this stack as tsundoku, which refers to the practice of acquiring reading materials and letting them pile up in one's home without reading them. It is also used to refer to books ready for reading later when they are on a bookshelf. This Huffington Post article and this LA Times article explain more about the behavior. 

My current stack of tsundoku resides on the living room coffee table, but hasn't always lived there. Sometimes it's the side of my desk, or my nightstand. Sometimes it's even in the bathroom (shhh, don't tell!). I joined 2 book clubs this year, one for KonMari Consultants and one for Professional Organizers. I'm hoping some of the books will overlap, even though I know that's kinda cheating, lol. 

When I was 40 I went back to school to get my bachelor's degree in Retailing & Consumer Sciences (why people buy what they buy) with a minor in Fashion (because I knew I wanted to be a personal stylist). Even with reading assignments, I would be the student reading the WHOLE chapter because I was genuinely interested in learning (the difference of going to school later in life). I wanted to learn to be able to apply it to my new career AND business, which just so happens to also be what I LOVE to do.

This means I have the added benefit of most of my "fun" reading is also "research" for my job. Thus, the one "fun" book on the left stack above is "Tales from Watership Down" which was a birthday present from hubby after I finished "Watership Down," which was based on a client recommendation. The right stack is how I'm going to get to know my new home, Florida - after I'm vaccinated.

My husband and I both love to read, and we've encouraged that in my boys as well. One year we decided to use all our books to make our Christmas Tree. We gathered books from all over the house and my engineer husband quickly went to work constructing the beauty you see here. The boys and I added paperclips to all the decorations and inserted them all in between the books. This remains a favorite memory of theirs (and ours!) and one they've asked to duplicate each year. 

This memory couldn't have happened without our tsundoku, however! While going through and touching all of the books to carefully stack them, we were reminded of books we'd acquired and then left on the shelf to gather dust. This is why when using the KonMari Method™, we first pile all your books together and then tap them gently to "wake them up."  This is an important step according to Marie Kondo because, "to truly decide whether you want to keep something or to dispose of it, you must take your things out of hibernation...we can stimulate our belongings by physically moving them, exposing them to fresh air and making them 'conscious.' ... [clients] are inevitably surprised at how quickly and precisely they are able to choose after this," from "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up."

I will confirm that we definitely got rid of some books after the Christmas tree came down in January. It also prompted us to dig into some of the books we'd forgotten about. 

This pile of books is a perfect example of tsundoku. I checked all of these styling books out of the library shortly after I graduated. They then lived, unread, on my wine cooler "desk" for the next 4 months before I paid my late fees and returned them all. Never cracked a one. The lesson there was, I didn't need any of that information to be able to move forward successfully with my business. 

If you need some help getting rid of the tsundoku, or other piles, in your life - I can help. Give me a call or book a consultation and and we can figure out how to make that happen. Virtually, of course.

Here’s my direct scheduling link:

Until then, move forward with Peace & Grace!