Let’s Talk with Diane Stuckart

Diagnosis…Incurable!

By Diane Stuckart

Yes, I have it. I’ve suffered from this condition for years…actually, for most of my adult life. It’s an ailment that primarily afflicts readers and writers, though some regular folks get it, too. I never knew this syndrome had a name until recently, when I stumbled across a web article describing the all-too-familiar symptoms.

To my surprise, a formal term exists for my disorder: Tsundoku.

The online Collins Dictionary describes Tsundoku as “the constant act of buying books but never reading them so that they pile up in one’s room…[f]rom the Japanese tsumu – to pile up- and doku- to read.” In other words, book hoarder’s disease. Or, as I like to call it, “The Never-ending To-Be-Read Pile”.

Though it’s not like I wanted to be this way. My fellow sufferers will agree that it’s one of those things that sneaks up on you. Once you have accumulated a TBR, it’s difficult to rid yourself of it, mostly because by the time you finish one book, another couple have somehow been added to the stack. The obvious solution is to quit buying books, or simply limit the purchases to Kindle downloads. But it’s not quite that easy.

As an author, I buy books from my fellow writers at signings. I get them in conference swag bags, am sent them from editors for blurbing, or receive them as gifts. Or maybe I see a review of the latest must-have tome and order it online in the dark of night. And while I appreciate the convenience of ebooks, I’m old-school enough that I do my best reading with a real live book in hand.

You probably have your own TBR pile – maybe one taller than mine – and by now you’re wondering, what’s the big deal? So what if we have stacks of unread books in our homes? Who does it hurt?

Usually, that answer to that is, no one…not unless the stack topples over onto one’s foot. But the other day, I was asked for the second time by a very lovely fellow writer if I’d had the chance to read the book she had gifted me several months back. I was embarrassed to tell her that it was still in my TBR pile…and that it still was a good distance from the top. It’s not that I don’t want to read it, it’s that time is short and the pile is so very tall!

But that conversation spurred me to take action, and so I’ve decided in the new year that I’m going to make a concerted effort to read down that stack. I’m not going to call it a resolution, because those things break way too easily. Let’s call it a no-pressure attempt to put my syndrome into temporary remission. I’ll shoot for a book a week…or maybe every two weeks. Or heck, one a month. That will mean twelve books down by the end of 2019.

And if that doesn’t work, I have a Plan B. I’ll take my husband’s suggestion and turn the pile into one of those cool side tables made from stacks of books.

How do you handle your To Be Read pile?

While you’re here, check out our Booklover’s Bench contest, open from January 1-18, 2019. We’re giving away a $25 gift card through a Rafflecopter drawing. To visit the contest page, CLICK HERE.

Comments

  1. Lois Crockett says:

    I like to buy books and read them with friends. I buy a book I think a friend will love, read it then gift it right away. That way the TBR pile stays slim and my friends and I have something to talk about. It also broadens my scope as I tend to read lots of cozies and true crime yet I do enjoy the occasional paranormal, romance or adventure tale. My goal is 100 books this year and I’m already about seven in. Now if I’d only write as much as I read… some dilemma, huh.

  2. I reorganize my bookshelves a couple of times a year and “find” books I had forgotten about, so move them up the TBR pile. I read so much on my ereader and listen to audiobooks that my physical books have kind of been languishing. I only read physical books in the summer by the pool, in Florida by the pool and when lying in bed each night for about half an hour. It sometimes takes me over a week to finish one, but I keep buying. I love the name, Tsundoku. I will have to use that one.

  3. Until I read this post, I never considered having shelves of books a bad thing. However, I limit my physical books to the bookshelves, so if more books come in, some have to go out. I’ve got keeper shelves I don’t touch and a classics shelf to make folks think I have class. The rest are all reference books or books I truly enjoy reading and rereading. I have books by author friends, but I strongly prefer getting those by electronic means. No storage worries that way. Will the books I’ve kept become collector’s items? Not sure, but I’m even more sure my kids wouldn’t know the difference either. I love books, and I’m happy to call them friends. I found the Japanese word Tsunduko to ring an association bell with other terms I know: tsunami and suduko. Without knowing any Japanese and without reading further once I saw the word, I was thinking, okay this word is about a puzzling disaster with lots of numbers… Read into that Maggie-logic what you will.

  4. I don’t handle my TBR pile. It handles me.

  5. I’m very organized with my reading! Sort of. The seasonal books usually float to the top of the pile during that season. Aside from that, I try to read them as I acquire them – first in, first out (thanks to Goodreads for helping me remember which ones I have and in what order!). With that being said, I do give preference to favorite authors and fellow authors who will occasionally “jump the queue,” and the freebies I get at conferences tend to end up buried sometimes. If it isn’t something I’d normally buy, it might sit for years (my apologies to those fine authors whose books are gathering dust – I will get to them eventually!).

  6. I love paperbacks. I love books. My TBR pile is shameful. But I recently surprised a fellow author with a review of her book I bought over a year ago… so there is that plus side Tsundoku

  7. Books by friends and fellow authors that I know go to the top of my TBR pile. So do books by favorite authors I follow. The rest can wait. Those are mostly conference or ebook freebies, I have books from years ago, but I do try to steadily read at least one print book a month from my older collection so I can donate the book when finished. Currently, I’m reading three books. One is a mystery from an author new to me. One’s a fantasy from a favorite author. And the other is a paranormal romance from my conference pile.

  8. cherylhollon says:

    Hi Diane, We’ve gone through a serious downsizing since we moved downtown, but I still have a huge TBR pile. I’ve found that I can just about manage to read one a week. I have a library book club mystery to squeeze in there as well. I am donating more to our local library and there’s a Little Library about a block away from the apartment. What a lovely problem to have! LOL!

  9. Another reason I love ebooks. And libraries. We downsized when we moved, and space for physical books is limited. Good luck with your reading!