Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Are You Addicted to Reading?

Apparently, some people are addicted to reading. Really, seriously addicted. It's not a chemical addiction, obviously, but reading can be a psychological addiction when it's used as a way to avoid reality. ReadingAddiction.com explains this (admittedly rare) phenomenon:

[R]eading is an addiction when it is used as a mechanism to avoid reality. A person can avoid facing life by reading all day. A person can also avoid facing themselves by reading all day. This is the only time that reading really becomes a problem. The idea of being addicted to books is tricky, because reading is generally considered to be a good thing. But we all know that too much of a good thing can be bad for you as well.
ReadingAddiction.com even gives some tips to help break a reading addiction:
  • Engage the addict in alternate activities.
  • Plan a vacation with a demanding schedule.
  • Draw the addict out of themselves by enlisting their help with something.

Personally, I don't recommend the second tip. Who wants a vacation with a demanding schedule, anyway? And if you try to force such a thing on a reader, beware. You might get hurt.

Now that we're equiped with some tips (albeit dubious ones) for dealing with the problem, how do you know if you're addicted? This eHow page lists some questions to consider:

  • How many book groups do you belong to?
  • Do you still recognize your family members when you pull yourself out of a book?
  • Have you gone into debt buying books?
  • Do you sneak out of work to visit a bookstore or library, just so you can be surrounded by books?

If your answers are inconclusive (Are three book groups really too many?), try this quiz for a quick and definitive diagnosis. It will tell you if reading is merely your passion or if it's crossed the line to an unhealthy obsession. I was happy with my diagnosis: "You are not that crazy about reading novels. It is not an obsession for you." I'm not sure I agree with the first sentence, but the second sentence gave me some comfort.

For those of you who receive the opposite diagnosis, don't despair. You can commiserate with your fellow reading addicts at this chat group.


Chad Aaron Sayban said...

I suppose anything can become an addiction if it is taken to its extreme. However, I'm not planning on sheltering my kids from reading on the off chance they might become addicts. I think I'm much more worried that they won't become addicted to reading.

Thanks for the info!

Lit and Life said...

I got the same answer which, now that I read the definition of an addict and the warning signs, is a very good thing. And here I've been going around calling myself an addict.

Erin Skelly Cameron said...

I got the same response as you, Gwen - although the answer might be different if I could find more time to read! With everything going on in my life, it is sometimes a struggle to find the time to read as much as I would like.

I think that I would have qualified as a reading addict when I was younger ... which I thinked helped to categorize me as a loner in high school. (Which isn't so bad ... most of my high school years were just passing time.)

Anonymous said...

Im 13 and im totally addicted to reading!!! I read the hunger games series in 2 days because i would not put it down(literally). I will stay up to read untill 4AM!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I got the same answer too. Thankgod.. Haha ..

I think I read to gain knowledge for my career. I just want to know everything right now. Haha .

Anonymous said...

Im 12 and obsessed. I read constantly, and lose track of time. I frequently turn down going out with friends in favour of reading.
My mam tries to get me to put DOWN the books. (I love you Michael Grant, Rick Riordan, Derek Landy, Eoin Colfer, Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth)
In my room I have a bookshelf thats overflowing with books and two large storage boxes that are full to the brim with paperback novels.
I have loved reading since I was 6 or 7. I picjed up reading really fast in the first years of school and haven't stopped since. :)

Shannon Tahja said...

I didnt take the test, I KNOW I'm addicted. I am what appears to be a healthy 27 year old girl, but really I'm disabled.
So while I spent 80% of my day sitting on my butt (Which strangely isnt fat considering..) I am reading. I go through a novel every 3 or 4 days. 2 days if it's good. And there was one time I read an entire novel in one night.. It does concern my boyfriend though.. I think he's a bit jealous. Poor thing.

K.J. said...

This really worries me. No one seems to take it seriously. Even the quiz advertised free e-books. My phone won't let me uninstall Kindle. I have an exam tomorrow - I've missed every lecture because I stayed up late reading, and instead of studying yesterday, I read 3 books. I only went to bed instead of finishing the other 2 in the series because I became unhappy with the direction the story was taking. Even now, I want to finish it instead of thinking about all the important stuff I'm falling behind on.

Anonymous said...

I used to be addicted to reading novels, and it was bad for me. I would wake up and reach for my book. Hours later I would get up, eat and dress, and read my book. I might forget to eat lunch, and scowl when my family interrupted me for dinner. Then I would read past midnight, sleep, and do it again. That is very unhealthy, in more ways than one. I became apathetic, irritable, and depressed. Just saying, you can definitely become addicted to reading, and it's not cute or good for you.

Thankfully, that was many years ago and I have returned ro real life, though the draw to fantasy worlds is still very strong whenever I do pick a book up. The advice about getting involved in other activities when you're addicted is good. Reading isn't inherently bad, but don't let it be the only thing you do. Interact with other people and go on real adventures in real life.

Anonymous said...

It's encouraging to see that I might not be alone with this. Honestly, I'm scared of how laughable other people will find it if I tell them I have a reading addiction. For me it's gotten so severe that I seriously think there's something wrong with me. I read a lot of online stories. A lot. I fall into this trance and completely forget about my surroundings and I end up losing time: hours, days, weeks...it drags on. I can't stop reading. It's like with any other addiction: One story is never enough, I just keep going. I stay up late, I get irritated when interrupted, I completely neglect my thesis, and that's where the biggest problem is. I'm dragging on my thesis, I'm lying to my friends/family/even my thesis committee, I'm becoming a shut-in (sometimes I would stay indoors for an entire week)....

Deep down I KNOW it's a tendency to "run away" from my problems, escaping from reality....etc. possibly from the difficulties of my thesis that I'm too much of a coward to face and tackle. I'm 25 right now and time is ticking and I know I'm wasting away my life like this. I wonder if I should get help. I don't even know how to confront my parents. Because I believe most people would just think it's a matter of self-discipline and control, and they'll think it's not as serious as I make it out to be.
I do try to get into other things, such as forcing myself to leave the house to work on my thesis, starting a blog to get my mind focused elsewhere....but I always relapse.

So I wonder...as expensive as it is...will therapy even help? Or are there other no-cost methods I can try...?

shadow Deering said...

Hi I am also addicted to reading if I do not read I suffer from withdrew stems and I can not stop this and I am so sad about this and I need to read dose not mater what it is I could be a dictionary for all I care I just need to read dose any one have this problem. I can not spell and I have a hard time to learn some things can anyone explain this? (could not read the top dong this in class and reading a text book)

Raynisha Booker said...

I'm the exact same way. I stopped going to classes at one point. I've spent the last week in my room and I can't even count how many stories and books I've read in that time. I literally haven't been eating because I keep forgetting. I've spent the last week just reading and sleeping, and even then.... I only sleep when I'm too exhausted to hold my book or phone. When I don't read for while I get super anxious to the point of being depressed. I know I'm an addict... I just don't know what to do about it.
I've tried to talk about it with people in the past and no one takes me seriously.