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More Books Than You Can Read?

Updated: Apr 27

Never mind stockpiling toilet paper, paracetamol and tinned tomatoes - something of a staple in my kitchen.

It seems the new trend is for Tsundoku, the Japanese word for gathering books and letting them pile up on your bedside table without reading them.

Professor Andrew Gerstle, a teacher of pre-modern texts at the University of London explained to the BBC that the word appears in Japanese writing from 1879.

Apparently doku comes from a verb that can be used for "reading," while tsun is "to pile up."


On my dressing table I have an ever-increasing aspirational pile of reading material which I bought long before the current Coronavirus pandemic. It seems that however many unread books I may have, I can't enter a bookshop without buying yet more.

Illustration by Quentin Blake for Matilda by Raold Dahl

Not for me the digital book, whether that be on Kindle, iPad or phone. I need to feel the weight, smell the aroma and physically turn the pages of a novel

At the moment mine vary from crime novel Big Sky by Kate Atkinson, which sees the return of private detective Jackson Brodie, to Tin Fish Gourmet by Canadian foodie Barbara-jo McIntosh which tells you how to turn tinned fish into an exotic meal. I kid you not.

My problem is that I have a limited attention span which sees me downing the book in favour of a tantalising movie on Netflix.

However, you choose to while away the lockdown hours perhaps now is the time to hunker down and work your way through that pile of books, do a bit of home cooking with the meagre supplies left on the shelves. Tinned fish perhaps?

Speaking of cooking my kitchen has never been cleaner. Husband Phil and myself argued over who should have the “joy” of that normally awful job of cleaning the oven. Our bathroom is sparkling and the vacuum is virtually on its last legs due to overwork.

Not normally one of the world’s natural organisers Covid-19 has seen me transformed. No longer is my side of the bed a hazardous obstacle course; spices dating back to the 1990s have been chucked from the kitchen cupboards and my wardrobe has been decluttered with overflowing bags ready for the charity shop. Ancient lipsticks have been binned and I have even cleaned my make-up brushes

Now the weather has warmed up significantly for the time being,I would love to do some planting and am more than a little dismayed that garden centres are disposing of their stock because of Coronavirus. Wouldn’t it make more sense for plants to be left outside their premises so people can help themselves with a donation to charity?

Whenever this is over, and over it will be, I’m hoping to maintain some of the tidying habits I have developed over recent weeks. Watch this space…..


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