Buying books you won’t read


This is the Japanese word “tsundoku”, meaning “the act of leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with such other unread books” (amazing that such a short word can mean such a thing, but I’ll trust that the internet isn’t lying to me on this occasion). I have such a pile in my living room, containing well over 50 books. The pile emits a special radiation that induces guilt when I am in its vicinity…

But buying books you won’t read can be a good thing, for example, if you’re buying them for someone else. At the time of writing this, 484 people, some of whom I know, most of whom are strangers, have, between them, bought approximately 1000 copies of The Young Atheist’s Handbook to give away to strangers. More precisely, they’ve donated a total of £9917.40 towards the British Humanist Association’s campaign to put a copy of my book into every school library in Engalnd and Wales. The idea for the campaign came from science teacher Ian Horsewell who says of the campaign: “This isn’t about politics, making a profit, or making children read a book..I’m a teacher who really believes that one of the most important jobs in the world is to help a young person start to think for themselves.”

I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of the people who’ve contributed to the campaign so far, and moved by many of the lovely comments they’ve left explaining why they’ve donated anything from £5 to £500. My biggest ambition for the book when I wrote it was that it would get into the hands of young people, but young people don’t really buy books and this campaign, if successful, will make The Young Atheist’s Handbook available to children who might otherwise never have access to it. So, if you’re the type who buys books you won’t read, please consider donating.

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