wtf is tsundoku?

Great, another Japanese phrase appropriated as a lofty creative concept. Hear me out though, this one kind of spoke to me, and stuck. Here’s why.


The idea struck me while in Tokyo — on vacation, pursuing the happiness of disconnection from day-to-day work, and finding some inspiration to get my creative juices flowing again. And, I came across the phrase, “tsundoku”:

tsundoku 積ん読 — (n) the act of acquiring reading material, but leaving them piled up, unread. It combines elements of tsunde-oku (積んでおく, to pile things up ready for later and leave) and dokusho (読書, reading books)

Do you relate to this as much as I do? I can probably point to a dozen or two books on my shelf back at home, that I have purchased but have not even touched. And I honestly feel bad about my lack of commitment to consuming these ideas.

But for me, this is only representative of a larger problem (that this article is, hopefully, the start of a solution) in my life.

The reason I have so many books piled up is that I get a certain idea in my head, and start to research it immediately. I come across thought leaders that I need to look to, read into it a bit before purchasing their work, and…that’s it. The initial thought lingers, and sometimes I look back for reference, but the rabbit hole isn’t fully satiated.

The same goes for my creative thoughts. As a designer-turned-strategist, I’ve spent the last year thinking a lot about design, but not designing — because that’s no longer my job. But I have a lot of crazy ideas and a lot of crazy questions I’d like to try to answer, but they don’t often get very far.

Just like my books — some ideas and thoughts linger in-and-out of existence, in partial un-formed states.

That’s where this collection comes in.


I’m hoping that this platform becomes a place for these ideas to live and breathe, lingering in and out of my brain. It’s a playground of thinking, that will attempt to move some of these ideas onto paper to share with the world, even as initial and rough as they may be to re-visit later on.

tsundoku is a reminder of that pile of thoughts left unread...unsatiated...undefined. A reminder for me to put these thoughts to work. Hope you enjoy as I invite you to follow along on this creative journey.

(Re)Published: @August 7, 2021