Tsundoku, the condition when a person likes to buy lots of books and leave them unread. Are you one of them?

Tsundoku, the condition when a person likes to buy lots of books and leave them unread. Are you one of them?

A behavior of buying more books even though there are a whole lot of the old books left unread on shelves. This “Tsundoku” condition is happening to many people and those people still cannot find the reasons to explain why. So, let’s dig in deeper reasons hidden within many of you.

Every time when there is a National Book Fair, we often see some people complaining about going bankrupt and to themselves or their friends on social media like “I haven’t finished my old ones and I’ve just bought some more new books!!” Anyway, for those who are currently having such a condition should try to read these following explanations on “Tsundoku” by Doctor Maew. Do you know that there is a name for it? and there is a guarantee that once you finish reading, you will understand yourself more.


In the period of book fair, we always see a lot of people buying a whole bunch of books with them. Several months later when there is almost another event of the book fair, many of those books are still left unread. However, more new books are still keep coming.

Such condition is called..

Tsundoku is Japanese which means the search for books or documents to read, then those papers have been left untouched (from the word “read books”+ “prepare for later and leave) source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsundoku.

It is consider the most accurate word for this condition. For Thai, it is equal to the word “Extensively keeping the books”

In English, there is no particular word for it. The most accurate word we can notice is Book Buying addiction: it is the condition of being addicted to buying books where the focus is on the buying. However, there is a common complaint in this group with the same interest saying that “they love to buy books but barely read them all’

Even though there is no specific definition of this condition in English, there is the existence of this problem. If you are looking it up in the internet, you will find that there are so many people facing this problem.

Why some people love to buy books but never read or finish them all?

  1. We are afraid that we will never find this book again (naturally).

There are many times that we have found the interesting books and wondered whether to buy them re not. We are afraid that if we come back later, we will never find them again. Humans are collectors in order to be ready for the future. In humans, there is a feeling that if we don’t keep things when it happens to come across, we will not have things when we need them in the future. It definitely creates extremely bad feeling. Therefore, some people keen on owning those books when they (books) become the love at first sight.

2. we are afraid that we will not find this book again (because the press will not publish it again).

As a member of specific-typed book readers, they will be well aware that some books will have no second chance of being republished or they may never find such books again. Many big book stores even refuse to have such books on their shelves as they are being too specific. Therefore, this group of readers always buy to store these books.

  1. We want to feel happiness from buying.

People always feel happy when they get to choose and pay as it is a feeling of having power and control over our own life. Some people feel even better when they are looking at those books they have purchased (they are similar to people who like to buy clothes or decorations).

  1. We feel happy when we get to imagine what we will achieve from reading those books.

Some people want to improve themselves so, they buy books for self-improvement to keep and think of having a better life after reading. Some people imitate their idols; they see what books their idols purchase, then they follow in order to be as good as their idols.  The difference is if we “are happy with the imagination of what benefit the book will provide” more than “the real intention to get the benefit from the book”, the desire to read will decrease as we already gain the happiness from the buying.

  1. The feeling of desiring the books is gone.

The person who wanted to buy books and the person now is different. Some books were really hard to find. Once the time has passed, our desire to read have almost gone because of other readers making reviews on those books or our friends telling us all about those novels they have read.

  1. There is no time but hope of wanting to read.

Frankly, we focus on other things rather than reading and we only hope that we can share sometimes for it. As long as we still see other things important, we will not share time to read. Therefore, those books are left untouched.

  1. We want others to see that we are real readers.

We only buy those books to take its cover’s picture to post online/be home decoration (this reason shouldn’t be counted as we don’t tent to read from the beginning).

Even though the results of “Tsundoku” are not that serious, there are still some bad points affecting us as follows;

  1. Tsundoku makes us feel bad with ourselves.

“Buying” books is like we are making a promise to ourselves that we are going to read them. When we don’t finish them, we will feel like we are lying and breaking the promise. Some people will even feel worthless, embarrassed and upset or lower their self-respect.

  1. It affects the relationship.

There are books everywhere in the house taking away others’ spaces to keep their things. Besides, if there is a person complaining that “why bother buying if you don’t read”, it will open up the wound in No.1.

So, what are we going to do?  

  1. Before buying, always find reasons of buying and set rules.

-If you are purchase because you need value from reading-you need to pay attention; setting yourself a rule when and how exactly the reading will happen.

– If you insist on buying because buying is your happiness not a desire to read, you should try to control yourself.

– If your intention is to buy in order to have something posted in social media, you may need to go to bookstore and just take a picture of the book cover.

  1. Renting books

Many people read a book only once and never came back to reread. Renting or borrowing is to set time, save money and eventually, save spaces at home.

  1. Finding time to read a book each day; no less or more than limited time.

You can find time like 15 minutes doing nothing but reading a book. Most people with no time say a liar; they actually have time but they are not giving enough importance to the reading. Some people are wasting time on looking at their friends’ Facebook, reading stars gossip, watching football, movies, soap operas or game shows. So, they make those activities more important than reading.

  1. Reading with purpose.

Highlighting or taking note is important as human being have no possibility to memorize all they have read. If you are writing down or taking note, it become easier when you want to reread or research that information again. Taking short note makes us feel like there is a return from reading; feeling not-in vain and being able to reread.

  1. Buying Ebook/ books online/second-handed books

This way will reduce stimulator in wanting to buy; buying because you are afraid of being unable to find that book again. Checking books online will make us realize that books are actually not hard to find.

 Is it abnormal? Are we going to be a psycho?

When there is discussion on this issue, people like to refer Tsundoku to Bibliomania. Bibliomania is a mental symptom in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The patients have a strong will to own the books. They must have the books (buy or even steal) otherwise they will feel miserable. Besides, they will purchase despite their financial problem resulting in space problem or an argument with their family. Patients at this level need a proper treatment. However, linking Bibliomania to Tsundoku is wrong as there is a big difference between them. Some readers misunderstand the term and worry if there is something wrong with them or worry that their close ones are unaware of being psycho.

Bibliomania is thinking or doing repeatedly; their searching for books cause the problem and is different from Tsundoku which all is about loving books (Bibliophile) and having no time or intention to read.

Credit: Kapook.com

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