Tanned Books: Books Want to be Read


It’d be like you having this guitar, and never playing it. Okay? This guitar wants to be played! And this bike wants to be ridden. And if you don’t ride it, you’re killing its spirit! The bike is dying. – Ross Geller

There is a Japanese expression called Tsundoku, meaning piling up books without reading.
As much as I love reading books, I love buying them. Of course I try to read them all, but some were left unread on my bookshelf. When I left Japan for long-term trip last year, I had to sell most of my books, but I managed to keep one small shelf space in my parents’ place, so I left some books that I couldn’t give up. And I brought some from Japan again, so that I could finally read them here in Korea. (Most of these were too heavy, so I could bring only a few…)

Now, here is an interesting law I found about unread books. The longer you leave them, the less likely you are to pick up again to read.

The picture above is a great example. It’s a book I bought over 10 years ago when I was a student. As a healthy CS major, most of books I read back then were science books.
I remember when I bought this particular book, Genome, in Borders. While I was walking back to my place, holding a new book, I was telling myself that someday I could be a computer engineer for genome project. My future was wide open…

Now after 10 plus years, the book is nicely tanned. Nice thing about physical book is that you also get associated memory. e-book is really handy, but sometimes you just want to hold a real book, thinking back good old times.

And yes, this time I will read this one. It’s about time.