Love of learning…on overdrive

You can learn in many ways, from school to lectures, to conversation or experiences….all are valid. One of most accessible and popular is simply reading books. Ralph Waldo Emerson suggest that “If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.” Whil a book should expand our intellect, what we think about. You should move off the best seller lists and pick up some obscure titles for, as Haruki Murakami reminds us, “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” But, you need to process it, you need to make it your own thinking. “Keep reading books, but remember that a book is only a book,” reminds Maxim Gorky, “and you should learn to think for yourself.” And it in thinking for yourself, you write your own meaning, which is the essence of reading according to  W. Somerset Maugham: “The only important thing in a book is the meaning that it has for you.” As you construct your own meaning, your soul grows or so it would seem to Marcus Tullius Cicero who observed that “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” 

Some of us are obsessed by books, as Henry Ward Beecher warned: “Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?” and Jorge Luis Borges confessed that “I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books.” For people like us, the week and sleepless, we horde books like misers do gold. And the Japanese have a word for us: Tsundoku

The word dates back to the very beginning of modern Japan, the Meiji era (1868-1912) and has its origins in a pun. Tsundoku, which literally means reading pile, is written in Japanese as 積ん読. Tsunde oku means to let something pile up and is written 積んでおく. Some wag around the turn of the century swapped out that oku(おく) in tsunde oku for doku (読) – meaning to read. Then since tsunde doku is hard to say, the word got mushed together to form tsundoku.

It strikes me that people strong in Love of Learning or Curiosity may well experiecne this phenomenon more that people of other character strengths.  I agree with Frank Zappa “So many books, so little time.” 


And just spotted this one to continue with the theme: