The Life Changing Magic of Finally Reading All Those Books You Bought
I recently learned the name to one of my most constant and pervasive afflictions.
This simple Japanese word describes the practice of purchasing and collecting many more books than you could ever hope to actually read.
Well, I must admit, I felt a little called out when I discovered this…
But I also felt some strange sense of calm. There was a word for it! Words are easily one of my very favorite things, and here was one that described my hardcover hoarding habit in perfect detail!
And if it had a word, such a thing must also have… *gasp* dare I say it… yet more similarly afflicted book loving folk?
Bookstagram and BookTok confirmed these suspicions.
Very quickly after diving into the world of book obsessed social media accounts, I realized that I was not alone. The book haul videos abound! The stacks upon stacks of “to be read” selections vastly outnumbered the “have read” piles!
My poor, bibliophile, little heart could hardly handle it. I read constantly, and yet for every three books I actually finish, there seem to be half a dozen more to replace them. I eagerly beg relatives clearing out their shelves to send along what they recommend, I am an active member of Book of the Month Club, and I know every trick there is to finding discounted and used books online.
And truth be told, I have long accepted the fundamental truth that book collecting and reading are two separate hobbies. Many a devout reader may rely solely upon their library card, and many an avid collector may never crack the spines of their treasured tomes.
So while I have never found any amount of shame in my collection of as-yet unread stories, I do acknowledge that my book collecting habit and my reading habit are more than capable of informing each other more cohesively than they have in years past. Because how deeply unfortunate that my beloved copies should sit shelved so long, unaffected by human hands?
Thus begins a new chapter…
A concerted effort has begun — what better time to reimagine your ways than the start of a new year, eh? — to examine my shelves more seriously.
First, there is the assessment. Exactly how many physical books do I own? As it turns out, approximately four-hundred. How many of those have I read in their entirety?
Significantly less than four-hundred…
Second, there is the categorization. Fiction and non-fiction. Fantasy and sci-fi. Historical romance and contemporary. Memoir and biography. Cookbook and professional development.
And next, there is selection. To take a walk through my books as I would walk through a library or bookstore. I want this one. Therefor, I will read it. Keep it that simple and do not allow my mind to wander too far into “but is that sequel out yet?” Shh! No, it isn’t, but we’re not worrying about that right now!
With each bright blue Book of the Month Club box that lands at my doorstep monthly and with each perusal through my Books-A-Million membership perks, my collection grows. I harbor no delusions of ceasing my book buying altogether (don’t be ridiculous), but I am now far more devoted to the ones I already possess. I no longer scour the apps for freebie ebooks (I probably have even more than four-hundred of those by now) when so many paper copies await me.
I don’t actually anticipate ever reading every single book I’ll ever own — weird, I know — but certainly more of them than I have read so far, in the hopes to one day gain the monumental lead my “to be read” pile currently has on my “already read” pile.
How does it feel?
In a word: comforting. I’m no longer trying to outpace myself by snatching up every book that catches my eye. I’m allowing books that have already caught my eye to recapture my attention. Forget the money I save by skipping the weekend splurges on hardcovers (a definite upside, to be sure) — just the surety that I will always have plenty to read is a bookworm’s ultimate comfort, and one I am learning to embrace.