The other day, a wordy site I follow on Facebook, “Word Porn” (meh on the name, but hey), gave me a word that actually resonated: tsundoku. It means (according to the site) “buying books and not reading them; letting books pile up unread on shelves or floors or nightstands”. I quipped that since I had books piled all over, but had read almost all of them, would I possibly need to use instead just doku? Or just tsundo?
That had me looking around at all the books I have stashed around my house; something that probably looks somewhat bizarre to visitors, but in which I take great comfort. And in my musing, I thought, “I should write a poem about this!” So I did. But keep in mind, that I do not consider myself a poet and that my poems tend to be whimsical and not at all serious – they are, as Bilbo might say, “just a bit of fun!” So here, just for the heck of it, is a poem about what some folks (but never me) might consider “too many books”.
Too Many Books
I have books upon the windowsills
and books piled up on chairs.
Books stacked high in corners
and books upon the stairs.
I have books packed tight on bookshelves
and on top of them more books.
Books piled high on nightstands
and almost everywhere you looks.
I’ve read – I swear – most every one
But yes, a few are waiting.
I always think I’ll have more time
yet keep anticipating
those hours with nothing else to do
but hunker down and read
to turn a blind eye everywhere else –
Time I’m grateful for, indeed.
The books downstairs are grown up books,
The ones upstairs were read
When children still snuggled sleepy eyed
To listen in my bed
Of courageous boys and so brave girls:
Potter, Pullman, dragon spawn,
of creatures large and critters small;
hobbits, mouse knights and Avalon.
My kids are now both young adults
I’ve not read to them in years.
The books of theirs piled all around
Have gathered dust for years.
But what would I replace them with?
Trinkets, velvet cases?
No, let me keep my memories
Of sleepy, dreaming faces
And little bodies tucked at each side
to listen in my bed
to all the worlds outside our world
from stories I had read.
Sometimes I do give books away
To charities or friends.
Sometimes I loan one that gets lost;
I never seek amends.
For books have lives beyond the page
I won’t begrudge a few
That wander out beyond my care –
They have adventures, too!
Sometimes it’s urged I sell a few
But I just can’t – you see
It’s not what I could get for them
It’s what they give to me.
So I will let them gather up
In corners, spaces, nooks –
For one can’t have too many friends
Nor have too many books.