Book Hoarder to Anti-Tsundoku

Tsundoku: a Japanese phrase, meaning to buy or acquire reading materials and allowing them to pile up, unread.

I haven’t been shy on my website about my struggles with anxiety and impulse control, but today I wanted to narrow it down to perhaps my greatest vice, and how I am finally—-finally—-overcoming it.

I am a bookworm in every sense of the word. I zip through books like they’re water and I’m dying in the desert. I like to look in used bookstores and current bookstores. I even enjoy other bookish items, like keychains with quotes. This desire to constantly seek out new goodies, along with my shopping issues, has lead to some pretty severe book hoarding.

My husband and I are currently preparing to move, and while the move came about quite unexpectedly (I’ll touch on why in later posts), it’s turned out to be the cliché “blessing in disguise.”

Moving books is a pain. Moving a small library’s worth of books is a pain in the ass which pushed me to my limits and beyond. Not only did I clean out the vast majority of my books, I went back to the library and renewed my card. It’s turned out to be exactly what I needed.

– It’s cheaper. Yes, I could sign up for Kindle Unlimited for $10 a month, but that’s $120 a year, money that could go towards a new tattoo, jewelry, or art supplies.

– It allows me to focus on books I truly enjoy. I have a penchant for old, out of print books, and art books from Japan, both of which I have spent considerable time and money to track down, and which are so much more valuable to me because they’re difficult to find, and because I had to work to acquire them. I couldn’t just waltz into the nearest bookstore and hit up the Bestseller table. These treasures deserve a permanent spot in my home.

– I find a lot of novels, while good, are not ones I would go back and read again. Therefore, why should I hold onto them? I donated and sold mine, and know they’ll be passed along for others to enjoy.

A lack of clutter does wonders for my mental health.

– I don’t feel overwhelmed by choices. What I have checked out from the library is what I currently read. If there’s a book that catches my eye, but I don’t feel the urge to borrow it immediately, then I either don’t really care to read it, or it can wait until later. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of times I bought a “book haul” and let the books sit there because I didn’t know which to read first, so I didn’t read any of it!

– It’s incredible to know I can borrow a book, enjoy it, and not have to worry about finding space for it after I’m finished.

– If I happen to pick a book I dislike, I can return it and get something else. There’s no fear of wasting money.

– It reminds me that a pretty cover doesn’t mean a book is good, and it makes me focus on what really matters: the story, not how nice it would look on a shelf. If I want to look at bookshelves, I can visit BookTube or Instagram and enjoy the aesthetics, then go right back to my own minimal, peaceful shelves.

I feel there’s this stereotype that bookish people are required to have books all over their home, but I’ve done that for years and it’s never felt as good as this new approach feels for me, now. With each possession I decide I can live without, I become freer.

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