Many readers buy books with every intention of reading them only to let them linger on the shelf.
Statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb believes surrounding ourselves with unread books enriches our lives as they remind us of all we don't know.
The Japanese call this practice tsundoku, and it may provide lasting benefits.
tsundoku. Tsundoku is the Japanese word for the stack(s) of books you’ve purchased but haven’t read. Its morphology combines tsunde-oku (letting things pile up) and dokusho (reading books).
The word originated in the late 19th century as a satirical jab at teachers who owned books but didn’t read them. While that is opposite of Taleb’s point, today the word carries no stigma in Japanese culture. It’s also differs from bibliomania, which is the obsessive collecting of books for the sake of the collection, not their eventual reading.
THE VALUE OF TSUNDOKU
Granted, I’m sure there is some braggadocious bibliomaniac out there who owns a collection comparable to a small national library, yet rarely cracks a cover. Even so, studies have shown that book ownership and reading typically go hand in hand to great effect.
One such study found that children who grew up in homes with between 80 and 350 books showed improved literacy, numeracy, and information communication technology skills as adults. Exposure to books, the researchers suggested, boosts these cognitive abilities by making reading a part of life’s routines and practices.
Many other studies have shown reading habits relay a bevy of benefits. They suggest reading can reduce stress, satisfy social connection needs, bolster social skills and empathy, and boost certain cognitive skills. And that’s just fiction! Reading nonfiction is correlated with success and high achievement, helps us better understand ourselves and the world, and gives you the edge come trivia night.
In her article, Jessica Stillman ponders whether the antilibrary acts as a counter to the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias that leads ignorant people to assume their knowledge or abilities are more proficient than they truly are. Since people are not prone to enjoying reminders of their ignorance, their unread books push them toward, if not mastery, then at least a ever-expanding understanding of competence.
“All those books you haven’t read are indeed a sign of your ignorance. But if you know how ignorant you are, you’re way ahead of the vast majority of other people,” Stillman writes.
Whether you prefer the term antilibrary, tsundoku, or something else entirely, the value of an unread book is its power to get you to read it.
“Mary Anne chose to pass into the eternal love of God”
Born and raised in Virginia—often a swing state, we might add—Mary Anne Alfriend Noland, a wife, mother, grandmother and 1970 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Nursing, up and died just six months before the 2016 presidential election, timing her obituary references as an extreme aversion to the choice of candidates.
And just in case this sounds maybe a little too much like poetic justice to be an actual obit, please know that Mrs. Noland’s obituary has passed the Snopes test and been deemed legit.
The clip, believed to have been shared originally by Facebook user Reed Esme, contains a hint as to their relationship:
“[My husband said] bring the dog to look after the kids,” the caption reads.
U.S. In 1925, a sled dog named Balto helped carry life-saving medicine through blizzards. A new DNA study reveals what made him so tough.
New York's Central Park has a statue dedicated to him, and there's even been a movie about him: a . Now he is the focus of a DNA study, 90 years after he died, to see what made the canine so famously tough.