This article first appeared on gulfnews.com.
There are many reasons for the sudden uptick in book-buying. Here are some of the oddest…
For a booklover, a bestseller list acts as a guide to buying the next book. But do you have a habit of buying literature that you never end up reading? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone.
There’s an actual term to describe such people — tsundoku, a Japanese word that refers to those who own a lot of unread books. But, why does one do this?
“Bibliomania,” says Christina Burmeister, a Dubai-based clinical counsellor. She is referring to a passion for collecting and possessing books.
She told Gulf News: “There could be many reasons. But, to begin with, it could be an obsession, expression of hoarding or even an addiction. They cannot walk past a bestseller section without buying a book. They feel a need to have them. For example, people who love buying jewellery, but never actually wear it. It is an unchecked self-concept, or an obsessive compulsive disorder.”
“…it could be an obsession, expression of hoarding or even an addiction… For example, people who love buying jewellery, but never actually wear it. It is an unchecked self-concept, or an obsessive compulsive disorder.”
– Christina Burmeister, a Dubai-based clinical counsellor
Another possible reason, Burmeister explains, is a person’s need to show off. There is a joy in the possession of those books, whether they read it or not. And finally, it could perhaps be just that people are being idealistic. They would love to read the bestsellers when they buy them, but in the end, there isn’t enough time in a day for them to read.
She said: “For people who like to read, the bestseller list could be like an authority on what books to read. It is the best option to choose from. It is a substitution for a teacher, who tells students what they may or may not like. To a certain extent, people are going with the crowd. The bookstores are large, going through the whole thing would be harder. Bestseller lists are the easier route.”
Matleena Vanhanen, a Dubai-based counsellor psychologist, agrees. She points out that the bestseller lists are a guide that many use when looking for specific reading material.
“We may also genuinely believe we’ll get around to reading these books someday, but our ideal book-reading self seldom matches the reality of our lives.”
– Matleena Vanhanen, a Dubai-based counsellor psychologist
She said: “We live in an era of information overload, in which we can’t research every new book published, so we rely on the ‘bestseller’ and ‘recommended’ lists to inspire us or to help us decide. We may also genuinely believe we’ll get around to reading these books someday, but our ideal book-reading self seldom matches the reality of our lives.”
But, doesn’t it bother people when so many books are lying in their homes unread?
It doesn’t seem like it.
Karen Anne Hope Andrews, a Dubai-based clinical psychologist explains that people are attracted to the knowledge contained within books, and a collection of unread books is more exciting than a collection that has been read.
The act of buying books gives us the satisfaction of acquisition, just like buying anything. However, there is a peculiar satisfaction particular to buying a book to add to our pile of unread literature…
– Karen Anne Hope Andrews, a Dubai-based clinical psychologist
She said: “Our collection of unread books is a world waiting to be explored. The act of buying books gives us the satisfaction of acquisition, just like buying anything. However, there is a peculiar satisfaction particular to buying a book to add to our pile of unread literature, because having a ready-made library of unread books on hand when and if you do decide to read something, gives us a lot of pleasure.”
Several international studies point out that children who read and who grow up in houses with books, demonstrate multiple benefits, including a more vivid imagination, empathy, better verbal skills and concentration, and even a higher level of academic proficiency. But, perhaps, as they progress into their adult lives, their busy schedules may not allow them to read as much and while they are still passionate about buying books, their hectic lifestyles could quickly outpace their ability to read them.
Do UAE youngsters prioritise their list of must-read books?
Gulf News spoke to some youngsters living in the UAE about whether they prioritise their list of must-read books and they cited a number of reasons as to why they don’t necessarily do that.