Us bookworms are definitely ferocious about how important reading is and how everyone should read. I agree. But does it work the other way? Can you read too much?
Now, I love reading. I spend about an hour every day doing it (depending on the day). Reading benefits me in all sorts of ways that I don’t need to list to this audience, backed up by scientific data. Reading makes you better at writing, at learning everything—maths as well as languages—and helps you to be more empathetic. Does this mean that everyone should read all day all the time?
Imagine this. Reading has been proven to be good for you, so schools decide that they’ll focus on reading. You go to your history class. Everyone sits in silence while you read for an hour. The same thing happens in maths, English and Media Studies. You get home, after reading all day. You’re too tired to pick up the pile of novels waiting to be read.
This, to me, is an example of reading too much. For learning at least, there should be a mix of different strategies used to understand something. You need to write and listen and watch videos and ask questions.
What about reading for fun, though? Can you do too much of that?
I’m certain that everyone reading this post has things they like—or have—to do that aren’t reading. Going to school, having a job, maintaining a blog, seeing friends, cooking—whatever it is, you can’t always read while doing those things. Staying inside and reading all day might be fun just once, but if it was your whole life, it would get pretty boring.
When I was younger and homeschooled, one of the main things I did every afternoon was read. I would read for hours. But after reading for a while, maybe finishing a book, I did something really weird—I would go and put my head under a tap of cold water. I did this because after reading for so long, I would start to feel sort of fuzzy and disconnected from reality. The cold water woke me up, so to speak.
Similarly, if you read all the time you abandon other important things that are part of a good life—like spending time with family, going outside, learning skills like music, or travelling. Books take you places, to be sure, but your feet can take you places too. I feel like reading is a really important part of who I am—but it’s not everything and I hope it never is.
I’m not trying to judge people’s lifestyle’s here. The balance you want to maintain between reading and everything else in your life is absolutely up to you. But I guess I’m saying that I believe in most things (except chocolate perhaps) in moderation. I wouldn’t give up the feeling of getting lost in a good book for anything. I love how that feels. I love reading and talking and writing about books. I don’t want to give that up. But I don’t want to give up my non-book related passions either—being editor of the school newspaper and playing viola and running and hanging out with my family and playing board games. Reading is wonderful and I think everyone should read. But there can be negative aspects to reading too much and it’s really important to think about those.
So how do you balance reading and all the other things you like to do? Have you ever been accused of ‘reading too much’, and how have you responded? Feel free to (politely) disagree with me in the comments!