The Anti-Library: Embracing the Unread

hand holding stack of books
No disrespect to Gary Chapman, but he left off the sixth love language: books.

I’m not sure where exactly the addiction started. Perhaps it was spending hours with my electronic Mother Goose memorizing fairy tales, or devouring every word ever printed by Carolyn Keene.

Book fairs were my all-time favorite day, and my mother {a reading teacher} rarely denied my craving.

I’ve never passed a book sale I didn’t love and don’t get me started on bundle bags.

More Books

Not only do I fill my wish lists with books, but I also use them to decorate almost every corner of our home. When I decided to transition the living room to deep navies and brushes of mustard, I combed through the 50-cent book bin looking for spines that matched my color scheme.

To this day, I haven’t read any of those carefully selected titles.

I’m practically salivating when my local bookstore clears out their inventory and sells $5 brown bags. I can hardly wait to rush home, rip open the discreet package, and see what treasures I ended up with—and lemons.

My husband will shake his head in dismay or simply exclaim in exasperation, “More books?!” His running jab is that if something happens to the local library, I will be able to supply the townsfolk with ample literature.

At your service.

Piles of Shame

One day, as I moved a pile of books into a different bin to make room for the books that were no doubt on their way, I began to feel a pang of shame. Had I reached the point in my manic episode where I was destined to build my fort of books around me and close out the rest of the world? {sounds marvelous, TBH}

I found myself justifying purchases or talking myself out of a truly beautiful volume because I was unsure of how it would look stacked next to the other unread titles—or how my husband would react.

There was a certain humiliation in loading up my cart or spending an exorbitant amount of money on the Scholastic order form—ah, until…

Until I discovered tsundoku.

Tsundoku is a gorgeous Japanese word embracing the idea of “acquiring reading material but letting them pile up in one’s home without reading them.”

Ah, yes, my friends. Journey with me to the freedom of the anti-library.

The Anti-Library

My overstuffed shelves categorized by genre or brightening the corner of a room remind me of all the things I have yet to learn or enjoy. When I sit by my carefully decorated shelf, cupping my tea, and grazing for my next selection, I am surrounded by untapped potential.

room with large bookshelves covering wall

When a friend asks, “Have you really read all of these?” they are missing the point entirely. The pages represent a bridge between us and the knowledge that lies ahead of us.

The freedom of the anti-library is that I can grab any title I so choose, read a chapter, a page, find the passage my bookmark was on—and put it back. Where it may or may not be picked up again for a while. It may end up nestled in a basket with a soft blanket, surrounded by other book friends, and possibly with a newly purchased book tossed on top of it.

But one day, it will be liberated again. Either by me or a friend, I lend it to. Or maybe someday we’ll change the breakfast room to that color and imagine the possibilities!

The Beauty of the Unknown

The colorful assortment lining every available shelf is not the result of some version of bibliomania. Quite the opposite. Every volume was examined and selected for a purpose. Placed in my home with the full intention of being admired or read.

Embrace the visual reminder of what you do not know.

scattered pile of books

Allow your children the opportunity to explore other worlds, become best friends with a train engine, or learn their 576th fact about bugs.

Remember, a good library is mostly filled with unread books.

And the next time someone tries to insert negativity into your bibliophile world, tell them that that’s not a pile of books, that my uncultured friend is tsundoku.

Pin this post and be sure to follow
Houston Moms
on Pinterest!

Previous articleHouston Area Farmers Markets Guide
Next articleLet Mayanah Financial Help you Live Debt Free
Kirsten C
Kirsten C. was born and raised in Texas Hill Country. After becoming a hopelessly devoted Bobcat and earning a degree in Mass Communications-Public Relations at Texas State University, she was wooed by the never-ending culinary options and vibrant street art of Houston and became a transplant. By day she is a marketing enthusiast for a downtown engineering firm, and by night, an over-the-top {and unashamed} dog mom. She and her husband William are licensed foster parents—advocating for children and families—who hope to one day grow their family through adoption. You can follow their unruly journey on their blog, Cornell Chaos. When she’s not trying a new restaurant, playing behind the lens of a Cannon, piddling in the yard, or scouring markets for hidden gems, Kirsten is often found teaching student ministry through Kingsland Baptist Church or escaping at a local coffee spot.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here