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The peril -- or wisdom? -- of reading too much: 5 Signs

Weds. a.m.:
Is there such a thing as reading too much? Sounds like heresy. What with all the studies that show Americans are reading less, reading while watching TV or reading only for work. "To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence," the National Endowment for the Arts study released in November, revealed that as a nation we are reading less and less for pleasure: one half of all Americans ages 18 to 24 read no books for pleasure, a number that correlates with less participation in civic and cultural life, lower pay and fewer chances for advancement at work. Yeah, well, reading too much also has its perils.

Here are some of the downsides of reading too much:

Disorientation: The mood and landscape of the book you are reading is dark and obscure but you actually live in sunny Southern California.

Amplification: The heightened sense of urgency you feel reading the novel is incompatible with daily life.

Social Interaction: The colleagues you don’t know in the elevator are not ready for the kind of intimate conversation that takes place in the novel you are reading.

Dissatisfaction: The people in your life are not as thrilling, fascinating, emotionally evolved, intelligent, sincere or well-read as the characters in the novel. Your own life seems gray, wooden and boring by comparison.

Severe Loneliness: No one you know has read the novel you just finished, so there is no one to talk to about it, which heightens your sense of alienation and isolation.

Sounds like a recipe for psychosis to me.

Susan Salter Reynolds

Comments () | Archives (5)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Believe it or not, Susan, we're about to publish a book that makes a somewhat similar tongue-in-cheek argument to yours...the title alone suggests all that's necessary for this comment, I suspect: The Solitary Vice: Against Reading, by Mikita Brottman

Many years ago, when returning my books to the library, my husband told the clerk he had signed me up for Overreaders Anonymous. He opined that my reading habit was ruining our marriage becasue everytime he tried to talk to me, my head was stuck in a book. He further explained the group's meetings were held at another branch and the group even had its own chaplain. The clerk was not amused and answered back that reading had never hurt anyone. I continue to have my head stuck in a book, our marriage survives and I have not yet experienced psychosis. Gotta run: a novel awaits me.

I don't find that the five "down sides" are down sides at all. I live in sunny Southern California; I NEED to escape to a dark and obscure landscape on occasion. Real life? Ha! You can have it. The longer I live, the more I enjoy my library.

I'm 17 years old, and I read a book a day. All out of pleasure. I find that reading my novels widens my vocabulary which is a definite positive. However, it also gives me headaches after a time, and takes away from my social life. Which right now is non existent.

i am 14 years old and again i read a book every day, i experince all of those "downsides" but not in every book, i am stilll trying to find out what triggers the downsides (and its not because the books are so great that i get it)
i often call it PBD - post book depression,
when i experince PBD it is hard to focus at school and can make things harder than it needs to be.
i would be good if someone would read all the books i read (before i do) then tell me if im gonna get the downsides along with the amazing story.
but i love reading more than anything else in the world, and couldnt think of a better thing to do on a lazy sunday afternoon. i am i bit of a nerd! lol


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