Tsundoku, or, So Many Books, So Little Time

The Japanese seem to have a word for all of the abstract, post-modern things. I like that. (And now I have Björk’s The Modern Things playing in my head. I like that, too.) If, like me, you happen to work in Bookselling (and please, do make yourself known. Hopefully we’re not exactly an endangered species, but we are rare, these days), then a state of tsundoku is an occupational hazard.

But what is this tsundoku? I hear you ask. It is, put simply, the buying of books, and not reading them. Letting them accrue, pile up, in heaps, on the floor, on bookcases, on bedside tables. And I am oh so guilty. I seem to have lost the stamina I used to have, for devouring books. The stamina, but not the appetite. It’s just my eyes have become too large for my reading belly. Also, the depression thing is a bitch for making it impossible to focus on reading. Hence I am months* behind. And then there’s the tiredness thing. Last night I decided I’d go to bed early and read. And I fell asleep about a third of a way down a page (just one page!). I woke up with the book on my chest. I’m beginning to think that my chest is better read than I am.

I stopped in the middle of composing this post to go around the house collecting my unread books. And I’m a bit worried now, there are so many of them. So, I refuse to count them.

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But, this is just a small selection of what is waiting to be read. I have recently begun William Gibson’s The Peripherals, and Katherine Heiny’s collection Single, Carefree, Mellow (I tend to read short fiction when it is quiet at work). And each week, when I go to work, I swear that I won’t buy any more books, because God knows I have more than enough. But then, something gets a glowing review, or is released in paperback after I restrained myself from buying the hardback the year before, or someone I know rates a title highly, or my curiosity is piqued… etc. You know how it is. I seem to be an addict. Ah well. It could be worse. All I need is time. Anyone know where I can buy some?

*years, really.

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Thursday March 7th, 2013

So yesterday was World Book Day (in the UK – think about it), a day for celebrating all things Book. It was Thursday. It was also a cold, dreary damp sort of day. The sort of day that makes people want to avoid going outside as much as possible. The sort of day that keeps even the weekday shoppers off the High Street. The sort of day when independent bookshops are quiet, unless the browsers are particularly hardy souls. (You can tell I was at work yesterday.)

But thinking about books, in both the professional and the hobbyist sense, set me wondering about my reading habits. At the end of 2011 I posted this. I was going to write a similar post at the end of last year, but when I gathered together the books I had finished, the books I am (still) reading, and the books waiting to be read, the only pile that had shrunk was the pile of books I’d finished. Which was depressing. But also, in a way, a significant achievement nevertheless, having spent so much of last year struggling to concentrate on anything. It still is a struggle. But in the spirit of celebrating reading, and because I enjoyed reading them so much, and because I think you all should too (that good, yes, although I had some reservations about the ending of Sweet Tooth), I herewith present the books I finished last year, and the ones finished this year so far.

Tadah!IMG_2537Not visible is Dan Purdue’s short fiction collection, Somewhere To Start From. That lives in my iPad. Do read it. In your own e-reader variant, of course. Also missing is Jeanette Winterson’s The Daylight Gate, which is on loan to a friend.

Some Kind Of Fairy Tale

Last night I did a thing that I have not done for a a very long time. Last night I was impelled to stay awake in order to finish the book I’d begun reading earlier in the day. The book? Some Kind of Fairy Tale, by Graham Joyce. Buy it. Read it. Love it. (And when you buy it, why not go to your nearest independent bookseller – it’s Independent Booksellers’ Week. Keep books on the High Street, help prop up the pitiful excuse for our economy, and keep people like me in our jobs.)

And now that June is almost ended, the philadelphus joins with the honeysuckle in scenting the briefer hours of darkness. And I’m galumphing through another book… and will soon be galumphing back to the Second Draft. I’ve been re-inspired.