Are YOU guilty of tsundoku? Trend for ‘buying books but never reading them’ is on the rise as psychologists say full bookshelves have become a ‘status symbol’
Have you got a huge pile of books collecting dust on your bookshelf? Do you keep buying more?
You might be guilty of tsundoku, a Japanese word that describes the trend for ‘buying books but never reading them.’
It has gone viral on social media, with scores of people sharing photographs of books they have yet to read. with some claiming they find the process of buying books comforting, while others just like the aesthetic.
Marisa Peer, therapist and author, told FEMAIL: ‘Many of us decide that a new year’s goal is to read more, perhaps focusing on classics or a list such as the 100 books to read before you die.
‘We invest in a number of these titles in the hope that owning them will spur us into action. Most of us either don’t stick at it long enough for it to become a long-term habit or don’t enjoy the venture into a different genre of literature and end up with that much-alluded to pile of books.’
If your bookshelves are budging, but you don’t actually do any reading, you might be guilty of tsundoku, a Japanese word that describes the trend for ‘buying books but never reading them’ (stock image)
People have shared their own experiences of Tsundoku with FEMAIL, including Tiffany Wright who said she has two full bookshelves full of unread novels
One book hoarder, Tiffany Wright told Femail: ‘I have two full bookshelves but I haven’t read a full book in about four years.’
She said buying books is a great source of comfort for her and that she would really like to get back into reading because she loved it as a child.
But instead, she has become a participant in the tsundoku phenomenon as she has not managed to read all of the novels sitting on her shelf.
Marisa said: ‘With easy buying options and instant access to books, it is much easier to give up on a book if it’s not grabbing your attention and opt for something else in an instant. Previously we seemed to have ingrained in us the compunction to finish every book we started!’
Tiffany said: ‘I have two full bookshelves but I haven’t read a full book in about 4 years’
Tiffany, pictured, said buying books is a great source of comfort for her and that she would really like to get back into reading as she loved it as a child
Marisa said: ‘Lockdown saw a huge surge in book sales as people looked for ways to entertain themselves and be productive at a time when we were forced to stay at home.
‘Buying things during uncertain times helps us to feel better and distract ourselves from the situation.
‘We were also in the odd mentality of buying more than we needed as part of a global panic over shortages. But as life returns to normal, many of the pandemic purchases we made will have joined the bookshelf, unread.
‘Some people have a shopping addiction usually because it can give them a feeling of control over something. Books may be one of their regular purchases to add to their stash but it could equally be knitting yarn or clothes or shoes.’
Some say they buy books for the comfort of it, but others say it is just for the aesthetics
Others say they are too busy to read the books on their shelves and have to leave them in a ‘to read pile’
But there is another side to book buying- those who buy novels just for the ‘aesthetic’ or design purposes, like Ashley Tisdale, who recently hit the headlines for buying 400 books just to fill the empty shelves in her home.
Speaking in a video tour of her LA pad, she posed next to the books of all different colours while revealing the secret.
Later, she said that it was done as an interior design trick and that people do it all the time.
She got mixed comments online, with people asking why she got so many bookshelves if she does not have that many books.
Another person wrote: ‘Having books on your bookshelf is about actually having read … the books. They are not a ‘fashion statement’. What are you going to do when your guests ask you discussion questions about their contents and you can’t answer?’
The other side of Tsundoku is those who buy books just for the ‘aesthetic’, like Ashley Tisdale, who recently hit the headlines for buying 400 books just to fill the empty shelves in her home
The issue then prompted a furious debate on Reddit, after a user started a thread with the title: ‘people who buy books for aesthetics infuriates me.’
Many people agreed with the poster, with one saying: ‘I totally understand what you mean!!! My brother’s fiancee is like this and it annoys the shit out of me lol.
‘She’s all about aesthetics. Their apartment is filled with things that are just for looks. On their coffee table she has stacks of books. I asked her one time ‘what is this book about?’
Her response: ‘I have no idea. I bought it because the color fit the vibe’ that response right there just makes her sound so uneducated, lazy and superficial. Books are meant to be read! Not as decor (but I’m sure there are tons like her using it for that purpose.
Another added: ‘I don’t like it when people arrange their books by color.’
The issue prompted a furious debate on Reddit, after a user started a thread with the title: ‘people who buy books for aesthetics infuriates me’
But others confessed online to buying books for decoration and aesthetic purposes too, with one person writing: ‘I’ve had probably thousands of books. I’ve moved 12 times.
‘I have gotten rid of most of my books. If I lived somewhere I knew I was gonna stay- I would go out and buy a sh**load of books too- what’s the problem?’
And another person said: ‘Google ‘books by the foot’ and you’ll find dozens of companies selling bulk books solely for decorating, based on size, color etc’
Meanwhile someone else added: ‘What is the problem here she just wanted to fill empty shelves. Y’all so proud of your 12 book collection that you can’t remember reading that you can’t let her have this.’
Marisa told FEMAIL: ‘Some people just like to have books for display! The positioning of a brand new book on your coffee table is enticing and many people use their book collection as a way of demonstrating their intellectual prowess or as the perfect backdrop for a Zoom meeting or selfie, whether they have read it or not!’
Ashley Tisdale got mixed comments online, with people asking why she got so many bookshelves if she does not have that many books
But the practice of Tsundoku has been labelled an ‘art form’ by ‘booktokers’ on TikTok, who review novels and talk all things books.
One booktoker panned his camera around the room he was filming in, showing stacks of unread novels behind him.
Aaron Surtees, Founder of City Hypnosis and Subconsciously app, told FEMAIL that Tsundoku is an example of ‘procrastination mindset’.
He said: ‘The initial ‘thrill’ of buying and reading a book that appears interesting is then overridden in the brains limbic system by a more instant satisfaction hit provided by other things, often the internet checking their WhatsApp, news scrolling, Instagram posting etc.’
On TikTok, ‘booktokers’ have done videos about tsundoku, with one labelling it an ‘art form’, as he panned his camera to show the stacks of unread novels behind him