Goodreads, My Tsundoku Enabler

Tsundoku is a Japanese word that literally means “reading pile.” It’s used to describe a stack (or stacks) of unread books, or the act of buying books and then adding them to existing piles of unread books.

I know my people can relate to this.

As if I didn’t already have enough physical tsundoku in my house, Goodreads conspires with Kindle to give me virtual tsundoku.

Books to read

Illustration by denisismagilov • Fotolia

Amazon will load you up with more free books than you know what to do with. In addition to all the classics that are in the public domain, bunches of books that are first in their series are permafree, and newsletters like BookBub will tell you when books are on free promos. You can also follow the Twitter hashtag #freebook. And if that’s not enough, you can always dig around in Amazon and find where they hide the lists of top-selling free books. Sorted by genre, no less.

Open Culture, in addition to a fun article about the origin of the word tsundoku (which dates to the nineteenth century), has a list of 800 free e-books.

Yeah, I have just a little bit of a problem.

Goodreads, by helping me manage this addiction, is the biggest enabler. Whenever I download a new #freebook—or, let’s face it, several—I go to Goodreads and add them to my “to-read” shelf, which really should be called tsundoku.

To make matters worse, when a friend recommends a book, I instantly whip out my phone and add the book to my list. I did this recently in a meeting with my pastor and a financial advisor when we were discussing church finances and the advisor recommended Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate by J. Clif Christopher. Only after I had done it did I realize how tacky that looked in that setting.

When people have the recommended book with them, it gets even worse. Because then I ask, “Can I borrow it for a second?” I turn it over and use my phone to scan the bar code on the back, automagically adding the book to my virtual tsundoku. Yes, I actually did this at our Bible study last week.

Thanks to practices like these, I now have a to-read list of 1149 books.

And I haven’t yet added this week’s freebies. Or some of the books on the floor.

Do you relate, spekkies? How do you manage tsundoku, physical or virtual?



About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

3 comments on “Goodreads, My Tsundoku Enabler

  1. You know, it’s been a long time since I’ve put a lot of effort into reading. I recently down-graded my cable, so I’m turning the TV off more and picking up a book instead. I don’t have 1189 books in the pile, but I am making progress on the 50 or so virtual and 100+ physical books I’ve collected in the last 20 years (and lugged around) but never bothered to read.

    Most of the virtual ones are those free “classics” you mentioned. It’s been kinda nice. Turns out, the adult me likes Dickens. And HP Lovecraft.

  2. I add everything to an Amazon wishlist and then track them at ereaderiq.com so I get notices when they go on sale or are free. But I love that word – Tsundoku – must remember that. lol

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