Buy Books and Never Read Them? There's a Japanese Word for That

iStock
iStock

In English, stockpiling books without ever reading them might be called being a literary pack rat. People in Japan have a much nicer term for the habit: tsundoku.

According to the BBC, the term tsundoku derives from the words tsumu ("to pile up") and doku ("to read"), and it has been around for more than a century. One of its earliest known print appearances dates back to 1879, when a Japanese satirical text playfully referred to a professor with a large collection of unread books as tsundoku sensei.

While accusing someone of caring more about owning books than reading them may sound insulting, in Japan, the word tsundoku doesn't carry any negative connotations. Tsundoku isn't the same as hoarding books obsessively. People who engage in tsundoku at least intend to read the books they buy, in contrast to people with bibliomania, who collect books just for the sake of having them.

There are many reasons someone might feel compelled to purchase a physical book. Though e-books are convenient, many people still prefer hard copies. Physical books can be easier on the eyes and less distracting than e-readers, and people who read from ink-and-paper texts have an easier time remembering a story's timeline than people who read digital books. Of course, the only way to enjoy those benefits is by pulling a book off your shelf and actually reading it—something people practicing tsundoku never get around to.

[h/t BBC]

Can You Guess the Book by the Subtitle?

Letters From James Bond Creator Ian Fleming Detailing His Infidelity Hit the Auction Block

Sony
Sony

If the adage “write what you know” truly applies, then James Bond author Ian Fleming took it to heart. Like 007, his famously womanizing character who later went on to star in a hugely successful movie franchise, Fleming was apparently prone to finding himself in choppy relationship waters, according to a collection of private letters coming up for auction.

Sotheby’s is offering a collection of 160 pieces of correspondence belonging to Fleming, including a series of exchanges between the writer and his wife, Ann, that detail his infidelity.

“You mention ‘bad old bachelor days’—the only person you stopped sleeping with when they ceased was me!” Ann wrote, apparently referencing Fleming’s indiscretions. Other letters seem to hint at a more stable, if lurid, coupling, with Fleming affectionately referring to her as “darling baby” and opening his messages by addressing her as “Dear Monkey” or “Darling Pig.”

Before they married, Ann expressed hope Fleming would arrive to take her away from her then-husband, Esmond, Viscount Rothermere, and “put me in your bed with a raw cowhide whip in my hand so as I can keep you well behaved for 40 years.” Clearly, that plan didn't succeed.

Fleming and Ann were married in 1952 and remained together until his death in 1964. The letters were often exchanged while the writer was on retreat at Goldeneye, Jamaica, where he wrote many of his Bond novels. The letters also frequently reference his work and some of Bond’s origins. In one, he explains work is going so well he’s completing a chapter a day. Describing a boat given to him by a friend, he wrote that “I have christened [it] Octopussy.”

The salacious letters will be auctioned from December 3 to 10 and are expected to fetch between about $260,000 and $400,000.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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