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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

"Tsundoku" - Buying Books Not Reading Them

It is neither a matter of shame nor shortcoming when you possess a great book but couldn’t find time to go through the contents. It happens all the time with lovers of books, including scholars and authors.  A lifetime of collecting books left the writer Howard Jacobson with back injuries, a lack of living space and a sense of sheer pointlessness. But he would do it all over again:
I can't remember how old I was when I began collecting second-hand books. I'd like to say eight or nine, but that's because I want to be thought of as bookishly precocious. In fact, going by the purchase dates I bothered to write in the oldest volumes in my collection I can find, I must have been about 12. I'll settle for that. Twelve's good. There are worse things to do when you're 12.
My father wasn't so sure. He objected to my bringing books home before I'd read the previous lot. He didn't understand that books could just sit on shelves, unopened, and still satisfy whatever need drove the collector to collect them. Though he was no reader himself, an unopened book drove him to madness. "It would be like me ordering a meal and not eating it," he said. An eventuality that was, indeed, inconceivable. "I'll open them all one day, when I have to," I told him. But by his reasoning they would, by that time, have gone cold. And the truth is there remain hundreds I haven't opened yet. Cold on my shelves, they stare out at me, with chill reproach. But who's to say the hour won't yet come when they are needed?”
- Howard Jacobson,  novelist and columnist, author of the Booker prize winner The Finkler Question

The city of San Francisco is home to some of the world's best bookshops, including one which specialises in obscure political tracts and another which has become synonymous with the Beat literary movement. One of the frequent shoppers at these bookshops, my daughter-in-law, Ranjan, who can easily boast of having, perhaps, the biggest home-library, also agrees:  

“YES, it's completely normal. I myself consider books to be beautiful things to own and adorn my bookshelf, whether I read them immediately or not (though I only buy books that I would like to read some time in the future). There are some books I've been gifted on several occasions but haven't read (I started reading, but didn't like them, and so on), but it's nice to have them in my collection to brag about, nevertheless. There's a certain pleasure I derive in just collecting books.

And to prove I’m not alone in this predicament, let me share with you a quote by Arnold Lobel:

Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.

Not only it's normal, the Japanese even have a word for that: "tsundoku". Its definition is: Buying books and not reading them [noun]. I particularly felt like that for a time, but I'm trying to change it, not because I think it's bad per se, but because I've realized reading something is more pleasurable in the long run.”


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