Just a few of my unread books on architecture.
Life is too short, and weekends are when my life’s deficit of time seems most acute. Regrettably, a normal part of my current routine includes devoting a substantial portion of each Saturday or Sunday (or both) to work in the office. Construction contract administration is sucking up an inordinate amount of my hours and energy. A seemingly endless series of Requests for Information, Construction Change Directives, Change Orders, and submittals make for downright Sisyphean labors. Also vying for my attention is the need to prepare for the two CSI Certification classes I help teach each Monday and Tuesday evening. On top of that, I’m also performing twice this weekend with Eugene Taiko at the annual Oregon Asian Celebration. Something had to give, and that something this time around is a particularly thoughtful blog post.
By chance, I did discover a new word today that neatly sums up my current state of affairs: Tsundoku. Tsundoku is the Japanese word for the stacks of books you’ve acquired but haven’t read. According to Wikipedia, it combines elements of tsunde-oku (to pile things up ready for later) and dokusho (reading books). I’m not an obsessive collector, but there certainly are more than just a few volumes in my collection awaiting my more devoted attention. The majority of these are books about architecture and architects (what a surprise!). The fact they remain unread isn’t because their initial appeal to me has faded—it’s simply the case that time hasn’t been on my side.
The news and media website Big Think published a piece by Kevin Dickinson last October titled The Value of Owning More Books Than You Can Read (or how I learned to stop worrying and love my tsundoku). In Dickinson’s estimation, the value of an unread book is in its power to get you to read it. Many unread books around you also remind you of your ignorance, which isn’t a bad thing. I’m looking forward to reading and enjoying all my books. Having many to read and learn from is a source of happiness.
I didn’t intend this brief post to be a whiny plea for sympathy. I appreciate being busy and having challenging, satisfying work. I just wish every now and then I could enjoy having nothing to do other than curl up with a good book on a dreary winter day. I am fortunate: my collection of unread books--my tsundoku–patiently waits for me.