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Addiction to reading books?


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I wonder whether I am addicted to reading books? (I'm 37-year-old woman) I have always loved reading ever since I was a little kid. The fact that I was rather a shy child helped to develop reading into a life-long passion. I have always read a lot, though there were periods in my life when I tended to concentrate on something else, for instance, during my studies, I used to reduce reading during the academic year in order to focus more on the studies and  I used to read during the holidays then. Fast forward a couple of years to the pandemic and my first home office job, I guess it was then when my reading got really obsessive since I spent all my evenings after work reading, I had subscriptions to book "streaming services" and some of them even made access to their library free during the pandemic. I also read before going to sleep, and I became obsessive about completing a whole chapter in one go. I always spent my weekends reading books for a longer chunks of time than it was possible on weekdays. After the pandemic ended, the time I could devote to reading shrunk, and the real revolution came when I met my boyfriend and began to spend every weekend with him, in this way my reading time got reduced only to some 'stolen time' during the weekdays.  I really care about the relationship but at the same time I miss my reading weekends, when I could concentrate on reading for a longer stretch of time. When I cannot find time to read I feel like I am missing something, and often when I spend time with my boyfriend I think how many interesting things I could have read in that time instead of just sitting and doing nothing or some small talk. I also have to fight the urge to get hold of a book during a weekend with him. I guess this proves I am addicted to books? I also some underlying fear that I would become completely stupid if I cease reading books and this also keeps me coming back to them. How should I quit? Should I consult a psychologist? Would it be better to gradually reduce my reading time or quit cold turkey? Should I get rid of all my books, cancel book subscription and library card, avoid following Instagram or Facebook pages dealing with books? These are some of my ideas, maybe you can help? Thanks 🙂

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I don't think you have to quit reading, to me it doesn't sound like you are addicted. You might be experiencing problematic habits, but not to the point that it's taking over more important aspects of your life. It sounds like you know of a time when you had to put priorities first, like your studies ahead of reading books. It also sounds like you get your work done and only read your personal interest books when you have time.

But there are some things I encourage you to think about:

  • Are you sacrificing sleep in order to read more? A good nights rest is important, and usually in most media addictions that is the first thing to go.
  • Do you read carefully and take in what you are reading, or do you speed through books regardless of quality? Same thing can happen with binge-watching and video game addictions, where we constantly seek the next show/game (session) even if it's just occupying our minds rather than actually enjoying it.
  • How much of what you read do you remember and reflect on? Or do you find like you have trouble recalling a book you read when it comes up in discussion or read a review of it? Focus on quality, not quantity of what you read.
  • Are you part of a book club in your area? Do you discuss what you read with others? Great way to turn a solitary activity into a social one, and a great way to get different perspectives and insights.

You might or might not have an issue based on the above, but instead of fully quitting, I think it'd be better to build better habits and changing your mindset when it comes to reading.

The last thing to think about; you're now sharing your time with someone else. That's an adjustment for the both of you. And it seems like this is usually triggered by boredom too; so as an example of changing habits and mindset, what can you two do to change "sitting and doing nothing or some small talk," as you described it? Are there other activities that you'd be interested in trying together to not feel like that? It's impossible and unadvisable to spend 100% of your time together. It's also alright to be in the same room together doing other things separately; so it's okay if you want to read a book while he does his own thing from time to time. Just make sure to balance that with time spent talking and doing activities together.

If you want some ideas, hobbies that I like doing with my wife are board games, watching a show or a movie together, go on walks outside, sign up for cooking classes from time to time... we've also read the same book together and discussed it, sort-of like a private book club between us. Just something to consider and talk about together; it's important to ensure you have a balance between spending time together without trampling over your interdependence.

Edited by D_Cozy
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Well of all the things to be addicted to, reading is definitely preferable to most! Is this something that replaced gaming for you? I've never heard of a reading addiction but maybe you can find some resources about this. Now that I think of it, this might be one of the oldest addictions/escapisms of all time. 

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