I was recently laughed at when entering a Zonta book sale because I dragged an empty suitcase behind me and left it under a table while two elderly ladies monitored it for me until I had finished scraping dust off the floor with my butt whilst searching the boxes of books under the display tables. Some call it desperate, I call it smart. I have a bad neck. I didn’t lie to myself and walk in whimsically with a recyclable tote bag. I got real. I faced my true self and admitted I would need a suitcase to drag my purchase from the dim-lit hall of dust-filled cream and white pages.
How many of those books have I read?
My lawyer says I don’t need to answer that.
I read quite a lot. I document it all on Goodreads so I don’t forget, not so you can see what I’ve read. Reading is my creative input for my art of writing ie. my creative output. I need to read.
Thing about reading is, it’s not Netflix. You can’t just binge a whole book, or series of books in one weekend. It takes time. It is part of a process. There is the time it takes to read, and the time it takes to digest a story.
That’s one reason why when I saw the trending of the word Tsundoku online and on Twitter I decided I was not only normal, but okay with the piles of books I’ve lined up next to my bed and in the living room which are like an army of ants, slowly infiltrating my partner’s parents home where I’m staying at the moment, building a new nest. My nest. I’m the ant.
Now here’s my first world pity story.
I’ve literally lived out of a suitcase for the past decade. I moved around a lot. Between NSW, traveling around Europe, to Melbourne, to Indonesia, and now to New Zealand. The last image I have of me in NSW at the beginning of this year is me feeling very overwhelmed because I couldn’t fit all my books in my suitcase, the last suitcase I said I would ever live out of.
NZ is it, I told myself. I’m buying a house and getting a full time job.
I ummed and ahhed for months, trying to decide what to take. The airline only lets you take three suitcases (and alas, I had to pack a couple of items of clothes) and posting books is ridiculously expensive (in bulk). In the end, I packed my own books, a few books on the craft of writing, a few books my friends have written and a couple of classics then in a last minute cry of terror, had to dump all of my books I had accumulated (in those particular two years) on the grass out front my house while I drove away to the airport. Some of them still had the price tag on them. I had bought them brand new at the local rural bookshop.
This is not the first time I have lived through this type of scene. I’ve lost so many books over the years from friends throwing them out, or thinking they were their books or me having to dump them before getting on a plane.
NZ is it, I told myself again.
That suitcase which I dragged to the book sale had a sole purpose: to contain a copy of every book I had before but at second hand prices so I could replenish my collection.
I’m getting there.
My Tsundoku is building, higher and higher. One day it will make Godzilla look small, inferior.
But as tall as my Tsundoku is, I don’t rush, I take my time reading, word by word, sentence by sentence, page by page, book by book.