A stack of books found after cleaning a room

Tsundoku (積ん読) is the phenomenon of acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one's home without reading them.[1][2][3][4] The term is also used to refer to books ready for reading later when they are on a bookshelf.

The term originated in the Meiji era (1868–1912) as Japanese slang.[4] It combines elements of the terms tsunde-oku (積んでおく, "to pile things up ready for later and leave"), and dokusho (読書, "reading books"). There are suggestions to use the word in the English language and include it in dictionaries like the Collins Dictionary.[4]

The American author and bibliophile A. Edward Newton commented on a similar state in 1921.[5]

In his 2007 book The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb coined the term "antilibrary", which has been compared with tsundoku.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Brooks, Katherine (19 March 2017). "There's A Japanese Word For People Who Buy More Books Than They Can Actually Read". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  2. ^ Tobar, Hector (24 July 2014). "Are you a book hoarder? There's a word for that". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  3. ^ Gerken, Tom (29 July 2018). "Tsundoku: The art of buying books and never reading them". BBC News. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Crow, Jonathan (24 July 2014). "'Tsundoku', the Japanese Word for the New Books That Pile Up on Our Shelves, Should Enter the English Language". Open Culture. Retrieved 28 March 2021.
  5. ^ Dodson, Steve (7 February 2008). "A Quote on Bibliomania". Language Hat. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  6. ^ Popova, Maria (24 March 2015). "Umberto Eco's Antilibrary: Why Unread Books Are More Valuable to Our Lives than Read Ones". The Marginalian. Retrieved 26 January 2022.