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There's a Special Japanese Word for People Addicted to Buying Books

Picture of Luke Abrahams
Social Content Editor
Updated: 24 April 2017

Every language has its limitations and barriers – there are English words, phrases and syllables that don’t exist in Arabic, for example – which is why our language has evolved to become a glorious treasure trove of borrowed words, phrases and sayings from all over the globe. Here’s one you need in your life right now, especially if you’re a paged-up bookaholic. 

The Japanese word in question is ‘tsundoku’, and it describes the habit of buying more books than we can read (we suffer especially with this).

According to Quartz and Indy 100, Sahoko Ichikawa, a distinguished lecturer in Japanese at Cornell University in the United States, says tsundo means ‘to stack things’ and oku means ‘to leave for a while.’

This is 100% relatable. Many a time have we all entered a bookshop and thought ‘it’s time for some new books and a great new read’, but then spent way too much money, returned home and just left the beautifully bound things on the shelf for an eternity. Sad times. Very sad times.

If only there was a really clever word to sum up the empty feeling you probably have after reading this article. Sensible suggestions are welcome in the comments.

Mad for books and Japan? This Tokyo-based book hotel is the thing of your dreams!