[Tsundoku: “is the condition of acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one’s home without reading them… It is also used to refer to books ready for reading later when they are on a bookshelf. As currently written, the word combines the characters for “pile up” (積) and the character for “read” (読).” Wikipedia]

It’s ten days before Christmas, and my mother is clearing up the clutter of boxes lining our hallway. The boxes are full of books – books meant to be shipped to her home town. Just a week ago she went to the warehouse sale of a publishing house and made away with yet another box of books she got for PhP5 apiece. Our hallway looks like a warehouse of books. On Monday she plans to ship them all off to San Enrique. We wonder why she waits until the very last minute to do things like this. My father is frustrated by the amount of clutter. He wants an orderly house by Christmas. My mother is doing her best.

Our house will never be one of those showcase houses, the kind you see in the magazines or on tv. It’s a decent-sized condominium unit good for a family of six, but we are overrun by books. In the living room we have a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf screwed to the wall (in case of earthquakes), and it’s full. There’s another shelf just for my niece’s children’s books. Every bedroom has bookshelves, but we are out of space. We have given away or donated boxes of books but we never seem to create significant space for new ones.

In the last couple of years we have been buying e-books so that we can just store them in our smartphones and e-readers instead of real books taking up space. But we have also been regularly attending the Manila International Book Fair every September, buying books for gifts. Our folly is that we can’t resist real books – you don’t need a battery to read them, and it’s comforting to have a tsundoku pile near your bed in case you can’t sleep. My mother is a retired professor who raised us to read, read, read. We daughters feel like Belle from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”.

Life hasn’t become an episode of “Hoarders” yet. Too many books is not such a bad problem to have. We just need to make an act of will to give away the books we no longer read to others.

Daily Prompt: Folly

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