The Pulitzer Prize is an idea; it’s a vote of confidence. Like literature, it exists purely in the mind.
The Pulitzer Prize 2015 list is out. No question about what to read next, after I divide my TBR into smaller piles, that is. Oh, those To-Be-Read books, you have some, don’t you?
You know, the stack(s) of books we all have? The books we definitely want to read, piles of them spreading like kudzu when we’re not looking.
The word tsundoku dates back to the beginning of modern Japan and literally means reading pile. 積ん読.
Tsunde oku means to let something pile up. 積んでおく
Around the turn of the century, someone switched the oku (おく) in tsunde oku to doku (読) – meaning to read. Tsunde doku was hard to say, so the two words became one.
Tsundoku means leaving a book unread after buying it, piled up together with other unread books. Sound familiar?
But we all know the TBR pile is more than just a stack of books. It’s a continental-shelf-sized heap of goals uncompleted, plans derailed, best intentions gone awry.
I want to read more books than is possible in a lifetime. That TBR pile is such a tease. As I age, it mocks me.
Cynthia Crossen, in the Wall Street Journal, says she’s sometimes thwarted by excuses.
As I scanned my shelves, I found I had convincing arguments why I shouldn’t read each one of the orphans – or convincing to me anyway. I rejected a book called English, August, by Upamanyu Chatterjee because it is, after all, November. No to The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell because the book jacket says it’s about ‘the desperate lives of working people.’ No to The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro because I heard it wasn’t nearly as good as Remains of the Day or Never Let Me Go.
I know just what she means.
These pitch-perfect books just clinched the coveted Pulitzer Prize. Go ahead, add them to your tsundoku.
All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
The Sixth Extinction
by Elizabeth Kolbert
Encounters at the Heart of the World
by Elizabeth A. Fenn
The Pope and Mussolini
by David I. Kertzer
by Gregory Pardlo
by Stephen Adley Guirgis
Do you have a TBR pile?
Or do you keep a TBR list?
don’t spend too long reading this because that stack of books on your shelf isn’t going to read itself.