A to Z Challenge

T for Tsundoku


Language: Japanese

Meaning: Leaving a new book unread after buying it and just letting it pile up with the other unread lonely books in your house.

Every bookworm has the almost universal problem – too many books, too little time, or not enough books and rereading old ones again. While there are people who keep buying books without control and let them pile up in their house so much so that the space to keep them becomes scarce, there are others, a few choice people who buy books without a real intention of getting to read them in the near future, or those who don’t read when chance presents because they don’t quite get the mood.

Personally, as someone who has been a self confessed bookworm since I could read and understand words, I abhor letting a book that was bought going unread. But of late, there have been many reasons why I had to delay reading some new books because my ‘to-be-read’ pile keeps growing and being a book reviewer and editor seriously limits my reading spectrum. Whatever be the reason, leaving new books unread is a crime – if made intentionally, it is worse! The Japanese probably had been so affected by this that they coined a word to explain how mean it is do something like this to a book.


Flash Fiction #20

Tara sat with the crossword puzzle on her lap, a sharp frown on her face. A proud crossword expert that she was, no single word had stumped her like this one had. She sighed. She shouldn’t have take up the foreign language crossword without proper preparation. Agitated, she put the offending magazine away and stared into space. No amount of staring gave her the Eureka moment.

Growing increasingly frustrated, she took her mobile, snapped a picture of the clue and the boxes. No matter what permutation she looked at, she couldn’t find the word for

Leaving new books unread while you already have a pile of books (8) T _ _ _ D O K U

In a moment of desperation she even tried writing SUDOKU, not caring that it neither matched the clue nor the letters. The only word she knew that ended with DOKU was Sudoku. Pinching the bridge of her nose, she tried to distract herself by watching TV. But the more she saw the TV, the more her bookshelf beckoned to her. Tara snorted. When was the last time she had picked up a book and read it?

She had piled them up one after another like a compulsive buyer, in no particular theme or order. There were classics, hot new releases, bestsellers, books from her favourite authors and an assorted set of books purchased whenever she had seen them in her frequent bookshop visits. She could not shake off the feeling that one of those books held the answer she sought, and the inevitable guilt that followed. What sort of a bookworm was she anyway? Not reading a book after buying it.

“What’s bought that frown on?” a quick head rub and a cheery voice announced the arrival of her father.

“I am stuck with a crossword.” With a petulant frown, she handed over the magazine to her personal encyclopaedia.

A moment’s thought later, her father’s face brightened. Eyes twinkling, he asked, “Well, are you sure you don’t know this word that describes you perfectly, book hoarder that you are?”

Her first reaction was to scowl. She knew very well that the older man was teasing her. But the desire to know the answer trumped everything else as she said with a haughty stare, “Okay, you tell me then… What is the word?”

“Not that easily. It is a Japanese word is all I will tell you. And I see you have doodled SUDOKU. While the math puzzle has nothing to do with this, I assure you the answer is close.”

It took a bit of cheating and a lot of zeal after that, but search engines gave her the answer, at last. As she filled in the words, she resolved, “I will never Tsundoku hereafter.”


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