In my living room, there is an entire bookcase dedicated to my TBR (to be read) books.   It originally started as a small pile in the corner of my room, but I quickly found myself with too many books and not enough time (one could argue that you can never have too many books and one would be correct). It seemed every time I entered a bookstore, I could not leave without purchasing a book and my small pile quickly grew into a large bookshelf filled to the brim with another smaller pile beginning next to it.

Unsurprisingly, I am not the only book lover to face this desire of hoarding as many books as possible. In fact, this practice is so common that there is a Japanese term for it. The term, tsundoku (tsoon-doh-ko), means “the practice of buying a lot of books and keeping them in a pile because you intend to read them but have not done so yet; also used to refer to the pile itself” (Cambridge University Press, n.d.). The term is a play on words and originated in the late 19th century of Japan. A combination of the words tsunde, which means “to stack things, and oku, which means “to leave for a while”. Later oku was replaced by the word doku, which means “to read”, and the two words tsunde and doku were mashed together to create the term tsundoku.

Book stockpiling can be seen as an addiction but to others it’s a hobby, to make up for all the time they can’t spend reading. Besides there is no harm in having a few extra books around the house, you never know when you’ll be able to read. There’s a certain comfort in being surrounded by books and like Marcus Tullius Cicero says, “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” If anything, book hoarders are just ensuring that the rooms in their homes aren’t soulless but I’m sure there are better ways to justify having twelve different copies of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.


Livini, Ephrat. “There’s a Word in Japanese for the Literary Affliction of Buying Books You Don’t Read .” Quartz, Quartz, 8 Oct. 2016,

“Tsundoku.” TSUNDOKU | Definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary, Cambridge University Press,