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Tsundoku

10/01/2019

If last year is to be summed up in a word, it would be ´tsundoku´. I discovered the term during one of my idle work-time amblings into the depths of the world wide web and I do suspect that it is one that many here around me wear as a badge of honour. Roughly speaking, it translates to a propensity for collecting unread literature and although I have a long history of hoarding, 2018 was certainly tsundoku at its prime.

Reading has been a hobby for as long as I can remember but unfortunately, I’m gifted with the urgency and the pace of a three-toed sloth. Like waves lazily rolling in and out of the shore, I go about a book every night, word-by-word, margin-to-margin, only to be interrupted by the deep sleep that I would slide into, just a few pages in. And repeat! Couple that with an insurmountable urge to pile books up like a magpie stashing sparkly scissors, one can end up with quite a few dusty tomes in the corner. Perhaps I should have recognized the problem when, two summers ago, I had even had to resort to moving an entire bookshelf across the city on one of those child-trailers for bicycles (also an ambitious lunge at social integration if I may).

Mountain of academic output

Turn this scenario into a professional requirement and things may start to seem concerning. As I had previously written of the red ocean, the unstoppable publishing force keeps me on my toes, but the hundreds of e-mails from Google Scholar, each with its own novelty, isn’t exactly the welcome I was looking forward to as 2019 opened. Nevertheless, I eventually sifted through this mountain of recent academic output, knowing full well that many would be never read past the abstract and a few diagrams anyway.

It is perhaps this naïve optimism driving some of us that also keeps me positive that one of these days I would finally leaf through all the paperbacks that I’ve picked up at bookstores across Europe and India with great relish. And then perhaps also have a go at this metaphorical heap that the work-computer has been hiding for a while. For now, a page awaits, and then the inevitable slumber.

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