Take a Break from Zoomlandia: Tackle Your Tsundoku
Director of Ford Library, Ms. Barb Lazar
Winter break…. Ahhhh…breathe! As the winter solstice finally rewards us with the shift into the lengthening of days, the school schedule also bestows upon us a well-deserved and timely break from the Zoomlandia routines, expectations, and exhaustion that the rigor of challenging education produces. That said, what it means to me is tackling my tsundoku! I recently learned this word. Yes, there is a Japanese word for it: the pile of unread books—literally, the TBR, the To-Be-Read, the reading pile!
Winter break has always been a chance to slow down and read for myself–tackle the pile. Don’t get me wrong, as a librarian and a longtime middle school English teacher, I like to think that my superpower is being well-read in and knowing middle grades and young adult books. Still, during breaks like this, I treasure reading a current bestseller or re-reading a classic, or exploring some beautiful new picture books. On my tsundoku reading pile this winter, I also have well-worn old copies of books likeGoodnight Moon,The Very Hungry Caterpillar, andCorduroy. I have the joy of spending time reading to my young granddaughter from some of the same books I read to my daughters.
Four reasons to relax with a good book over a school break:
Nurture and explore interests.
When a book or reading is non-required, I tend to explore genres that may not be my usual go-to reads. During one break, I found myself reading vampire books! I know, out of my wheelhouse!Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith was my favorite during that break. I also find the time to read books written by or about places I would be visiting. The Norwegian mysteries of Karin Fossum and Jo Nesbo graced my shelves–my tsundoku–before traveling to Oslo with my daughter’s soccer team.
Reading helps you be a better writer.
For years, a multitude of studies have shown the correlation between reading and improved writing; even without direct instruction, reading improves vocabulary, language and spelling structures, narrative style, and literary devices. I love when I hear a student use, but mispronounce, a delightful and complex word; it often means they have encountered it in their reading!
Fight the winter brain drain.
The corollary, of course, is summer brain drain, but the idea is similar. You want to take advantage of the time to reflect and take time to just…be. But find the balance between quiet moments of emptying your brain and then recharging with engaging stories and absorbing new information.