Learn More About Reading Addiction

Reading Addiction is arguably a real phenomenon. A person can, in fact, be addicted to reading.

This is not so much like chemical addictions, however, in which the body becomes physically dependent on a particular drug or substance. Nor is it like gambling or food addiction, either, where chemical processes occur in the brain when people engage in the addictive behavior.

reading addiction
Photo by xero79 and moriza

No, reading 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. Therefore, we should take a closer look at the concept of reading addiction.

When does Heavy Reading Become an Addiction?

It all boils down to a person’s motives. If you are reading for pleasure, that’s great. If you are reading for knowledge or learning, that’s great too. Both activities are healthy, even when practiced in abundance. But if your true motive for reading is to escape reality, then you might be using reading in an addictive manner.

There have been times in my own life when I was reading books for over 8 hours a day. Since then I have achieved a great deal more balance.

This leads to us to the ultimate solution for a reading addiction. The cure is not to quit reading. The solution is not to “cut down” on the time you spend reading, either. “Cutting down” has such a negative vibe to it, and will probably lead you to resent the fact that you have to “cut down” on your reading at all.

So instead of cutting down, the key is to broaden your horizons and bring balance into your life through other activities. If you just sit on the couch and stare at the wall and focus on how you wish you were reading, it’s going to be awfully hard not to be miserable.

reading addiction
Photo by silas216 and julyyu

How Can I Help Someone Who Won’t Stop Reading?

People who are comfortable with their reading addiction do not want to hear about it. It is an escape mechanism for them and they use heavy reading in order to deal with reality. Typically, a person who is addicted to books has also justified their reading to themselves. That means that they have talked it over in their own mind and decided that their heavy reading is not unhealthy.

This is called denial.

Helping someone to break through this kind of denial is not an easy task, regardless of what type of addiction you are dealing with. People tend to cling to what they are comfortable with and what they understand. Change of this kind never comes easy. In order to best help a person who is clearly using books as an escape from reality, here are some things you might try:

* Engage them in alternate activities. This is a simple enough strategy, but it can be very discouraging to keep trying and offering new things if a person simply doesn’t respond and take the bait. Get creative and use everything you know about the person’s potential interests.

* Plan a vacation with a demanding schedule. The idea here is that they won’t have time to lounge around and read. Think survival camping adventure or a trip to Disneyworld. Anything that is action-packed will be a powerful distraction from reading.

* Draw them out of themselves by enlisting their help with something. People like to feel needed. Get your bookworm to feel important by helping you to do something genuinely important and significant.

Remember that people with reading addiction don’t want to hear you say that they shouldn’t read so much. Keep focusing on the pro-active approach and try to restore balance to their life. If they start to enjoy other activities, then your efforts in helping them will be proven successful!

reading addiction
Photo by lorenz3474909367 and ckaroli

People who have successfully overcome an addiction to reading do not necessarily quit reading altogether. Instead, they achieve balance in their life and no longer use reading as a way to escape into a fantasy world and avoid dealing with their own life.

100 thoughts on “Learn More About Reading Addiction

  1. Great post Pat. You don’t hear a lot about reading addiction but it can be a problem.

    As a child I used to escape the real world by pretending I was a character in Alice in Wonderland, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, or whatever I was reading at the time.

    At the time, I didn’t see it as a problem, but looking back, it was, as I spent far more of my time reading, or taking part in the adventures of these books than I did in the real world.

  2. Thank you for this great article. I’ve been reading for almost 6 to 8 hours a day and I couldn’t explain what was happening.

    I think you should post your article to wikipedia to let more people know about reading addiction.

  3. I’m addicted to reading online stories or fanfictions that I sometimes spend 10 hours in front of the computer surfing the net for more. It’s actually disturbing and I can’t stop. Everytime, I try to cut down my computer usage and book reading but I just can’t seem to stop. It seems that I don’t have resolve enough to quit or to lessen it somewhat. Its disturbing.

  4. This is an excellent post. I love reading, but I don’t think I ever used it as an escape from the real world. Occasionally I will take a day to read for example when the latest Harry Potter book came out. I read it in one day. That’s something I haven’t done in a long time. I rarely have that type of free time.

    As much as I wanted to do that with Lord of the Rings I could not accomplish that in one sitting. That took e a few weeks. I read two hours nightly. Thankfully I’m a fast reader.

  5. I definitely had this problem when as a child and adolescent. I would read through all my classes in middle school and high school. I was escaping from unpleasant emotions and depression. As an adult I struggle with heroin, alcohol and cocaine. When I quit alcohol about 50 days ago I noticed my reading skyrocketed.

  6. No people, I’m talking about a real adiction,not an escape from reality. I don;t even like to read, for me it is not pleasureable, but I can’t stop myself. If it is there it must be read. It doesn’t matter if it is a phone book or dictionary or a piece of litature. A trip to the market to buy a carton of milk turns into a 2hr project because as I go down an asile something will catch my eye and the next thing I know I am reading everything, all the little signs and cans and boxes and magizine covers, Its so bad when i go to a friends house and am enjoying their company if there is anything to read I will start to read it and soon I will be trying to do both listen or playing a game and read and I don’t even like to read. I pick up discarded newspapers at mcdonalds and other places thinking I will read that and I can’t throw them away until I do. I have newsppapers that are 2weeks old I am still trying to read.This is not an escape. I don’t know what to do.

  7. Both me and my son are addicted to reading. My son reads everything he can get his hand on. From coupon paper, my old magazines to a mail a flyer. If I got library books for him, he would like finish all of books in a very short days before doing anything else. He reads books during school resess when other kids play. I am addicted to online reading and read almost every night. Somtimes, I cut my own sleep to three and four hours in order to finish a story. I tried to cut my computer time and everything, but it didn’t work either. I tried new activities – drawing class, exercise, etc.. It helps a little, but not solve the whole problem. I just feel really happy and content when I read, it’s like I am living inside books and explore different words and experience differnt lifes.

  8. I think it’s worth pointing out again the difference between “escape through fantasy” versus “obsession with consuming printed words.” There is a real difference there, and if you are escaping your life or your reality through reading, I think there is potential there for other addictions as well…such as drug, food, sex, or gambling addiction.

    On the other hand, it sounds like there are some folks out there who are genuinely addicted to the process of reading itself…not for the sake of the story, not for the sake of fantasy and escape from reality, but just for the scanning of pages and the consumption of written words. If that addiction actually exists, I have no idea what classification of mental disorder it actually is, nor what a person should try to do to remedy the condition….

    Any thoughts on that?

  9. I need HELP! But not for myself, my 17 year old son who will not be graduating from high school as he should in a few weeks because he has spent most of his entire life engrossed in books. Mostly fantasy fiction. I truly woul appreciate any suggestion/help that anyone has to offer. It has been a strain on our family for years. I could go on for pages and pages here…

    Thanks!

  10. I can somewhat relate to your son, Jill, because I went through a brief period in late middle school and early high school when I read a TON of sci/fi and fantasy books. I was reading like one book each day almost, and it consumed my life for a while. This was enjoyable, obsessive, and quite comfortable. It was an escape. I don’t really know how or why I quit reading so much then, but I eventually later found drug addiction, so I guess this doesn’t really tell us much.

    I think the key is to encourage balance with someone, and if they stay obsessed, the best you can do sometimes is get out of their way and let them screw up for a while. Like I said, reading addiction was but a phase for me, and it only lasted for about a year or so….

    Anyway, good luck to you and your son, Jill.

  11. I spend at least 5 to 8 hours a day reading on the computer reading blogs, news sites, newspapers, foreign newspapers, magazine archives, etc. I also love to watch newsworthy videos on youtube and read the comments and reply on the comments. It’s really hard to stop. It’s definately addictive. I don’t really read fantasy, mostly informational and geo-politics.

  12. My husband reads upwards of 10-15 substantial books each week. Sometimes, on vacation weeks, he can devour over 3 a day. This does not include the 4 magazine, 3-4 newspapers, and countless online readings.
    It so happens that I really liked that when we were dating… he is very smart and knowledgeable with a seemingly unquenchable thirst for more.I love a smart man! He has recently taken to downloading blogs for our iPod too. He will keep one ear piece in his ear while driving, cooking, or whatever he is doing – even having conversation with others. He seems to get very moody though and b/c we have FOUR children, I need him to put the G-D books down and do some work around the house or at least engage with us on a deeper level. I think his is a combination of a real need to read for knowledge and pleasure and a true escape. I think it makes him depressed when he has to join reality. Should he see someone… I have brought it up, and like your post says, he definitely sees his reading as a gift, not a thorn. He is fine with his level of reading – no, let me restate, he would love to be alone in a deserted library for an undetermined amount of days. HELP – before I start wanting to burn books and ban the library.

  13. For those of you who like reading, here is a little addition:

    In my dream last night, beside my bed, I encountered a funny species that look like a spider when it first crawled towards me, very thin body (abdomen, head) and extremely elongated limbs. I tried to kill it, but when I hit its body, it winded its limbs around the instrument I was using for killing (was I using stick or shoes?); I hit it many times, when finally the spider changed its shape and become a spring like creature and jumped in the air, like a compressed spring does when released; I was now scared, moved back a little and watched this unusual creature; the creature kept coming towards me, it touched my trousers and started moving up my legs, I tried to tear it away from my legs, worse, the creature could subdivide and kept on growing, these time like a fungus that grows on trees (the fungus that has tiny but long and intermingling stems, like algae), so these creature started to grow and expand on both my legs (my trousers); holy shit… I struggled to clean myself of this creature from my trousers, or tried to tear it away, and finally I peeled it from my left foot (I don’t remember what I did with the other part on my right foot, I presume I simply tore my trouser, the part that contains the creature’s body), lots of fungus that look like fluffy sponge, there it was on the ground with all its might, calm, like a fallen tree, I was scared that it would raise again, I was relieved to walk up.

  14. Since people are going to avoid reality, I’d much prefer that they read books than smoke meth or play video games. I wish “reading addiction” was an epidemic. The world would be a better place for it.

  15. I think I am a reading addict, and it’s starting to affect my studies. I usually read minimum 10 hours per day and it’s too hard for me to control myself.

    Great post by the way. Thank you for the information

  16. I have a younger sister who is definitely addicted to reading. Every day, for hours on end, she’ll either sit in front of a computer reading fan fiction or sit in her room reading a novel.
    Books have become an absolutely unhealthy life line for her. Her addiction runs so deep that she’s stopped attending school, period. doesn’t see her friends, and doesn’t participate in any extra curricular activities.
    She’s a fourteen year old who seems to be on shaky ground lately, and any help we try to get seems to be leading to walls. Passed on from counselor to counselor, even psychiatric help. Medications, all of it. Of course, as said, she wants none of it. No help, because to her, everything is just fine the way it is. She likes the fantasy outside of reality she’s created for herself.
    I live two hours away from my sleepy home town, where my family lives, and it’s extremely difficult for me to influence the situation from the outside.
    What I’m getting at is that these sort of addictions really do need to be taken seriously. It’s taken over her entire life, and I’m so relieved to finally find some answers for questions that have been consuming my family’s lives for about a year now. Maybe now I can pass down some of this information and get some real plans for getting her on the right track.
    This article is greatly appreciated

  17. I have been addicted over the last weeks too, but I noticed it happening. I could think of nothing else at work, I did nothing else then reading and I didn’t have contact with some of my friends anymore.

    I now talked it over with some people, and this makes me feeling better, as like some pressure went of my shoulders.

    I’m now starting to do other things too, drawing, sporting and this helped me to keep the reading time down.
    If you feel that you are addicted, try to lay the book away and start doing something else, just to see if it interests you.

    Thank you for this article

  18. erm…I read novels in about two days. If I finish one and there is nothing else for me to read I will re-read some of my favorites (i have ruined the bindings on several books this way). And if I’m reading and someone interrupts me I tend to get very angry and snap at them. However I do not read as an “escape mechanism” but rather because I enjoy reading. Would I still be considered addicted to reading despite this?

  19. I love to read. I always considered myself addicted to it…like a drug, but a good one, and only jokingly. But I never, in a million years, until I googled “reading addiction”, would have thought that it was something that actually existed. I can fly through an interesting book in 1 day if that’s all I did, probably less than a day. I just always attributed it to whether it was a good book to me. I could have read the last Harry Potter book in 1 day, that’s what a lot of people did, and what I wanted to do, but that book came out in the dead of Summer and my friends had other things on their minds,lol. Although I feel like I am in the book while I’m reading, seeing the things they describe, wishing that I was a part of the book, I don’t escape reality, I try to do that in my dreams. Not sure if that’s working though…i can never remember my dreams

  20. BTW, Bean, I totally agree with you on that, i get irritable when the phone rings, restless when i have nothing to read, so i also re-read, im crazy with it

  21. Hi,

    I’m glad to have found this site. I have a major reading problem. I can spend up to 8 hours a day reading novels, crime novels, human interest, Harry Potter type novels, serious literature. The more problems I have in life, the more I escape into books. But the main problem is my reading at night in bed. I do this nearly every night and rarely get enough sleep. This really affects my job and my health. I have tried to control the problem with the help of a psychologist (who I was seeing for other reasons) , but am still struggling. Does anyone know of a 12 step program for reading addicts online? I am deadly serious!I am afraid I am wasting my life away. Help!

  22. Hi, Yes I’m a reading addict. I am almost 50 and I can say I have seen dozens of reading addicts. One thing I am sure of is if you know one then you will have to think back and agree that reading addiction is TEMPORARY. Yes the addiction may last a couple of years but there is always a life event that forces us to become addicts and a life event that makes us stop,if only for a while. Reading addiction is a very good alternative to pain medication or a very good way to cope with depression both TEMPORARY life events. More studies should be done and I think they will prove this is true.

  23. Hi, I am addicted to reading. If I don’t have a new book before I finish the one that I am reading I actually go into a panic. I have no real reason why I started. And so far I see no end to the tunnel. I have tried several times to stop reading because my husband asked me to, however if I am given free rain I will pick up a book and read without stopping. I even went as far as reading behind his back ie: while he was at work or during the night while he slept.
    I don’t use it as a tool to escape my reality, I have a great family and am an all around happy person. But I have this need to read. The easiest way I can explain it is by saying, when I read a book I don’t so much see the words but rather like I am watching a movie. I have found myself several times already where I got too tired to read and felt sad, thinking if I put the book down I would miss the rest of the story. Just like you would turn off a TV before going to sleep. I hope I can find a way to get away from that. I know I have to.

  24. hey,
    i dont know why i jus read all the time, i read novels… romance,crime etc. but no one knows i read all the time. i’m supposed to be a geek or a nerd or watever doing an electronics major in college. so when i download books and read on th pc no one thinks i,m reading and i cant seem to tell anyone. all my student life i’v been good, so i wanted to rebel.. so i guess i started this, but i cant seem to stop it. now its started affecting my grades what do i do… its stupid really i know wat to do.. stop reading… but i simply cant… can you suggest something

  25. Hi there Hema

    I would suggest that you force yourself to work outdoors. Get a full time job in an outdoor setting and this will really cut down on your reading time. Also, force yourself to do an hour of walking or light exercise 3 or 4 days each week. This will bring back a healthy balance to your life.

  26. Yeah people who are staying up late into the night with reading, that is a serious problem and you need to put a quick stop to it. The only way to do so is to pull the plug on this behavior and not allow yourself to go there. Make a cutoff time and stick to it. Obviously you have to come up with the motivation to do this for yourself.

  27. I was very addicted to reading throughout elementary and middle school – I only recently became aware of my problem. I also had a computer addiction, which I broke now. I’ve stopped reading so much, and see the problem that reading was for me – I was really using it as an escape from reality. The world of books is too often a much easier placer than the real world. But now that I stopped, things are worse. Without my books, I fall into a greater depression – the only other things that interest me are drawing and the outdoors.
    I find myself asking – is it a good thing that I separated myself from the world of books? Or maybe it is better to be in a fake world, escaping from reality, but happy.
    Any suggestions on what I can do to fill up my time with things that would make me happy?

  28. I don’t have so much the need to read, until I begin a book or a series of books. Then it feels like a sort of frenzy begins. I can’t put it down. I read Twilight and New Moon in 4 days. I was too anxious to sleep. I would wake up with an urge to read more, to know what was going to happen in the book. Looking back, I can’t remember anything that happened these past 4 days. It was like I was a zombie. What’s wrong with me? It’s not really an escape. I love to read, but when I begin reading a new book (and reading used to be an escape for me when I was younger), it’s hard to not wish it was more reality. I feel really stupid to even think this, let alone write it.

  29. well, i’m addicted to reading. in the past i’ve had reading bouts that lasted for a month or so. that’s happend off and on forever. but it’s different now. for a year and a half things have changed. i don’t agree w/it not triggering chemicals in the body, like as in gambling. i found that i am mostly addicted to the intense emotions that the reading evokes. that is a very chemical process for me. i don’t feel the need to read what is not pleasing to me (ie food labels, though i do read those b/c i’m a health nut, or the phone book) but i glut on what is pleasing (i carry at least one book with me at all times so i’ll have something i like and books scattered at every possible stopping point in the house–by the stove, by phones, on the kitchen table, on the coffee table, on the kids side tables in their room, on the dryer–and they’re all opened to where i left off last time i was there). i read and reread over and over and over again. my books are marked for emotions (for when i want to cry, feel like i’m falling in love, be depressed, feel the adrenaline of an action scene, etc). maybe b/c i feel i have to keep my emotions under wraps when interracting with others, that when i read i can feel emotions “on-demand”. i don’t really know why. i could be way off base.

    yes, it is miles better than being addicted to meth, but tell that to my children who can see i prefer time with a book to time with them, or to my family as i escape every chance i get to read, or to my husband who no matter how amazing i think he is i would rather read a book than wind down the night with him, or who finds a bank statement with tons spent on books. as for it being “temporary”, i can’t really afford the years b/c my kids depend on me now. the guilt is awful, but i keep going back. i spend tons of money not budgeted on books b/c when i want a book i can’t wait for it to get returned to the library.

    it’s true that balance is good, but telling someone to pull up their bootstraps and exercise self-discipline seems a bit naive, insensitive and ignorant. isn’t the whole point of the article to lay out info for reading as an “addiction”? that’s like telling gambling addicts they just need to stick to a budget. i’ve been battling back and forth with seeking counseling. i just feel stupid asking for it for this. and i’m afraid i’ll be asked to give it up and be left with nothing which is a terrifying thought. i know it’s illogical, b/c i’ve lived without it before, but i just can’t handle the thought of not having it now.

  30. Hi Noelani

    I think you have a real addiction, quite possibly. Have you considered seeking professional help? My guess is that it might be abstinence based for someone like yourself, but life can be awesome without reading. It is not the death sentence that it sounds like. I was reading a book each day for a while there, but I have learned to find balance in my life.

    Yes, it will suck at first. There is no way around this. Addiction is tough.

    Seek help. Good luck.

  31. I’ve known there is something wrong with me a month ago but I couldn’t put my finger on the issue . i stopped watching tv or sitting with my family or going out with my friend or even doing exercise .but today when I opened a folder in my computer where i keep the books that i’ve read,i found out that i’ve read over 100 books in a month . i have to admit that i’m a reading addict, i’ve never thought that the only thing that gives me comfort could be my addiction. no one in my country will even believe that there is something called “reading addiction” they will think i’m a liar or a lunatic so i think i have to depend on my own if i want to be cured, it’s hard to depend on yourself when you are that young i’m only 18 years old. so wish me luck i want to be cured because i love reading, i don’t want the thing that i love to be a burden on me.

    thanks for the article and the advice.

  32. Hi. I just wanted to say that I’ve noticed when my life has been at it’s roughest, I’ve gone through an addictive phase with reading. When my P.O.S. ex-husband was leaving practically in the middle of the night to cheat on me, I couldn’t sleep and would pull out Stephen King novels to read. Our daughter was a baby at the time and I could read one of these books in about a day. After we were divorced, the need to read seemed to fade a bit, but it’s always there and when I get sick of what’s going on in my life, I can’t help but think back to the time when I used to live my life in a book. I’d much rather be enveloped in a character’s mess than my own. Nowadays, much has changed. That daughter is a sophomore in high school, and my husband and I have a fifth grade son. There’s not a lot of time now to read, but we do give Weekends for married couples, and I find that as I read my part for the presentations, I rush through, leaving most of the participants wondering what happened. I’ve been told I need to slow down. Do any of my fellow reading addicts have the issue with reading so fast, that if you read out loud, you sound almost like the guy from the old Micro-Machines toy car commercial in the 80′s, where he’s talkling so fast,it’s amazing?

  33. “I think it’s worth pointing out again the difference between “escape through fantasy” versus “obsession with consuming printed words.” There is a real difference there, and if you are escaping your life or your reality through reading, I think there is potential there for other addictions as well…such as drug, food, sex, or gambling addiction”- Patrick

    “I believe that someone that has an obsession to consume written words, rather than reading to escape reality is definitely along the line of having OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder…

  34. Hi
    I know exactly what everyone’s talking about. I’m afraid that I am addicted to reading. I’ve suspected it for a while now, and I’m only 16 years old! In 4th grade, I used to read books that were at least 500 pages long! I just can’t seem to stop. Recently, my parents have gotten fed up with me reading all the time and actually don’t allow me to read as a punishment. I was sooo miserable, I couldn’t think right at times bcz I could feel the books calling to me. Usually once a month, I find out that I have nothing to read and I go slightly crazy. I raid my bookshelf and reread books I’ve already read 14 times. Once, I actually started reading an Encyclopedia. I get real pleasure from reading about fiction, but also things that teach me. I can’t decide if I read to escape or just for pleasure? Can someone help me?

  35. I have a problem similar to Jarta (Comment # 3). Once distracted by a print book or internet material, I keep going for hours ignoring other obligations. When I finally stop I feeling guilty and depressed dealing with the aftermath. This bad habit has cost me dearly in my professional and personal life and I have spent years trying to find some strategy to resolve it, without success.

    I really can’t explain exactly why I do it in any way that would make sense to others. I agree with the author of this article that escaping reality has a lot to do with it (as with most addictions), but his/her recommendation to “broaden your interests” and “find balance in your life” is overly simplistic. I have plenty of interests and opportunities in my life, but my bad habit is preventing me from fully realizing them. And I certainly don’t read because I have “nothing else to do” – far from it.

    I am painfully aware that I have a problem, but unable to break myself of it, despite wanting to very much. I value books and would like reading to be just a pleasant hobby to me as it is to most people rather than an obsession and grief. I cannot find help or support because no-one I try to talk about this takes it seriously. In some ways, I wish I had a “recognized” addiction like alcohol or gambling because then I could join a support group and at least have some source of encouragement. Maybe it would make the difference.

    Does anyone know of a support group or want to start one? reply here and I will check back (I dont’ want to leave my email in this post but if there is sincere interest from fellow addicts we’ll figure something out – maybe a facebook group). I’m so tired of struggling alone with this.

    Please understand I am not just talking about “Oh I love reading soooo much” ;I am talking about compulsive behaviour that impacts your life in a negative way. Sadly, that criteria definitely qualifies for me.

  36. I love reading–it’s enjoyable and stimulating.
    I learn lots from it too. It has wonderful
    upsides besides learning. Through reading we get to self examine through reading about people’s lives, we may reduce stress through reading humour and upbeat material, we may travel abroad and visit other cultures, solve mysteries, sprout new brain cells though reading mental activity, hey read about reading addiction like we’re doing here, overcome ADD and build our attention through reading.

    However there can be a downside to any positive activity because the brain will find distractions
    in compulsions and addictions to keep us away from
    emotional pain, “reality”, unfelt and unexpressed emotions, and what seems overwhelming. People get addicted to exercise and its endorphins, shopping, TV and the Internet, gambling, cleaning–you name it.

    Is reading keeping you from work, relationships, your family, education, responsibilities, and friendships? Is it sucking up a lot of time and you feel imprisoned by it? Does it seem like you can’t put it down–you need it? Are you reading too much frivilous stuff or romances that give you excitement and great feelings? (This can give you endorphins galore our natural pain killing opiates which in turn can make reading physically addictive as well as psychological) Reading also turns off our critical thinking with “ludic trance”–that can lead more easily to escapism and addiction. I read about various kinds of hidden addictions
    like reading, loveaholism, internet, exercise and so forth at Http://www.Self-Helpapedia.com and some of the methods to get someone more in connection with their emotions and what they avoid through compulsions and addictions.

    It’s ashame that something so good as reading can be abused to avoid emotions, reality, and unexpressed stuff. I just have to be alert when something is taking over my life like workaholism
    once did. Life in balance.

  37. I am a stay at home mother of two, 3yrs and 11 months. I dont ignore my kids persay but I dont play much with them, they get fed and changed. I wake up at 6 and feed them then read till lunch and feed them then read till 30 mins before hubby gets home then I rush and clean and do things that make him think i didnt things,lol. but tabout 2 hours later after dinner and hearing about his day i start reading again. I do my best not to get gurmpy when i am interupted. We have shows we watch but i havent seen them in months so i dont know whats going on. we all go to bed at 8pm the little one sleeps with us and the big one wont sleep if the tv in the living room is on. but after the little one is asleep i will start reading again. and the whole time i am not reading i am thinking of the people in the books. when a book is finished i cry. its like my bestfriend moved away. i wont know anymore about their life and it hurts me. when they die i morn and it really bothers hubby. i believe its to excape reality. my life isnt horrible but i need something more and since i am nothing like the people int he books i have to settle with reading. i am not a people person. i dont leave the house much. i would spend the rest of my life reading if it was a choice. hubby says i have an addictive personality. i smoked pot for 13 years and i dabbled in meth for 2. when i was young i would play tetris for days. and when i worked i would try to organize things into tretis lines and blocks. when i have nothing to read i can spend hours like 18 hours online looking at nothing. i feel like im losing my mind and i need help. i dont know where to find it tho.
    thanks for giving me a chance to vent.

  38. I just wanted to put down thanks for this article – reading noelani’s post especially as I very much feel the same – I feel massive guilt as sometimes I’m not even aware of what is happening with my husband – he now says he just tries not to tell me things when I’m reading, but that means never really being able to tell me things!
    My daughter is 2 and I have another one on the way and I really want to get things under control. When she was younger it wasn’t so much of a problem as I was nursing for so long I had a lot of time where I didn’t have much else to do but I’ve been addicted to reading for 15 years now and trying to quit for 10. I have no friends at all and always feel very distant to other people, I fear that my daughter will start seeing me as distant and I can’t stand this thought, but it will happen as I spend the majority of my day reading.
    I’m not sure why I do it, the only reason I can see that I cannot stop is that it must be some kind of addiction. I’ve tried talking to other people about it and they laugh saying that I’ve always liked books. I’ve tried using my daughter as a motivation and getting my husbands support (who does not laugh as he’s seen how I am with books and fully understands) and all I end up doing is sneaking off to read once everyone is asleep or sitting on the bathroom floor reading so no one will know what I’m up to.
    When I don’t have a book I’m reading I feel so so lonely and cut off, I read a book a day and rush through them feeling mentally and physically drained at the end of it then get angry at myself as I end up missing the characters! And yes I know that sounds crazy, I am actually aware that they’re not real!!!!
    I don’t know why I’m like this but am thinking of going to the doctor’s to talk about it as feel I need to get it under control asap for the sake of myself and my family. The guilt is breaking my heart and everytime I fail I feel like such an awful and pathetic person. My fear is that the doctor will laugh at me, I’m scared of not having books there, of feeling lonely and depressed but I can see this isn’t right and I believe that if I can get through it I won’t miss them – or maybe be able to read every now and then and actually be able to put the book down.

  39. It Is REAL. Last year is when it got the worst for me. I’d read 46 books. I’m in highschool too… So, it really affected my studies. I would hide out in my closet and read on my phone’s ebook reader for hours. I would pretend that I’d gone to school for weeks and read in my closet. But, I was smart and I caught up and I got A’s. They eventually found out within a little over a month but I never really realized I was addicted. I figured I was just lazy at the time and stressed out. That’s what I told them anyway… It blew over because I was a good kid… I am a good kid… It’s today, about a year later that I find myself doing the same exact thing. I haven’t been to school in a week, but I can’t stop. I feel empty without words to read. I also feel crazy. And, I also write a lot more. I hate it. I hate it and yet I feel as if I’d crumble without it. It helps me escape reality and yet every time I finish a book and every time I move on to another, I feel even more pathetic than before. And so I read again to escape that. It’s overwhelming.

  40. Bookaddict, and anyone else who’s life is negatively affected by excessive reading–I think you should seek professional help.

    If it is not a problem, then it is not a problem. But I am seeing more and more comments from people who are “escaping” through reading in a very hard core way. If it is ruining your life, then it is not worth it. Seek professional help. There is no shame in doing so. Find a counselor, a therapist, someone who can help. If they do not understand the gravity of your situation, then tell them to do some more research……

  41. I’ve always loved reading, but now that I have Amazon Kindle on my I-phone reading has started taking over my life. If I’m not reading I actually have chest pain and can’t focus on tasks. New books are only a click away and always with me. It’s like a iv drug user having a pick line or a port-a-cath, with an endless supply of heroin. I read every spare moment, while eating,driving,facebooking,working etc. While all the other mom’s are watching their little ballarina’s at dance class I’m on the bench absorbed in a book. I hope I can get a handle on this.

  42. i am 16 and i am addicted to reading. i’ll admit that reading has provoked my low gpa. im still a softmore though. when i read the comment about someones son not graduationg cause of reading, i suddenly realized the danger im in. that is not what my future will look like because i like being the one in control. i have a natural need to succeed and win. reading the end of a book is a sort of accomplishment for me. i like it. i’ll also admit that i do escape reality through books, i’m obsessed with stories especially when they give me that feeling where i think: “this story is great! this proves i’m not the only one experiencing these types of things! I’m inspired!” And as we all know, there are many of great stories out there that strike that chord. i will do my best to study on school now, and my friends for that matter. thank you for the inspiration, let’s just hope it doesn’t wear off.. because i’d have to read another book to get inspired all over again ;]

  43. i think my reading started when i was 11 i read tolkeins books at such a young age and i understood them completely and for my vocabulary many people thought i was genius and people were either envious of or made fun of me so i generaly stopped i became involved in sports video games messing around est i managed to keep my grades afloat so my parents wouldn’t complain im 18 now and i decided to start reading some novels i haven’t seen any of my old friends and i feel i have little in common with most friends my tastes have radically changed and i feel lost as too who i am. am i a sports jock a football fanatic or a book worm?
    to very different people in one.
    reading too much affects my life and i can’t stop when im reading a good story i can hardly talk to my mates about how great this book is. lol.

    im going to force myself to 2 hours a day max rather than the 5 hours i have been doing. i found the chapter a day thing to be bad because some chapters are 2 pages ad i feel cheated.

    2 hours max remember!

  44. Heaven for me would be a cabin out in the woods,no phone, lots of wood aready cut and stacked,food stocked and wall to wall books-history,classics, and popular fiction. Oh yeah, and no one around to bother me.Definately no computer or tv.Just books, glorious books!I would choose reading over sex any day!I know that it is an addiction(it runs in the family- my 2 year old great niece is book obsessed already-even takes them to bed with her and has to be read to before she will get up in the mornings)but I really don’t want to stop. I used to have chemical dependencies and this won’t kill me at least and is alot more socially acceptable(and legal).I guess I just have the “addiction” gene.I read alot growing up but now that I have changed my lifestyle and cut out the illicit substances I find that I cannot read enough!In fact,it really bothers me that when I die there will still be books that I haven’t had a chance to read yet!

  45. My wife has been reading so much the last year, she stays up late thru the night and every time I see her during the day she has a book or the computer reading. She ignores calls she doesn’t keep up on the house work, I looked on the bank statement and she had ordered 45 online books the last month. I have printed stuff out on reading addiction and she’ll throw it down like it’s not an issue. She comes from a family that has all struggled with addiction, and I really thought that she was different. it’s getting harder to handle, I will tell her at night that she is reading to much and she’ll blatently ignore me and continue on like she doesn’t care. I feel like she would be fine with a book and would rather not deal with me or our three children. The kids always tell me all mom does is read and I am coming to an end of dealing with this. Are reading addicts willing to throw away family and reality to fall into a fantasy land to ignore reality? to me I think that staring at a damn book all day and night would be pretty depressing. Will it ever end?

  46. I seem to share pretty much all the symptoms of reading addiction that everyone else has! I discovered the Kindle app for iPhone and read 36 books on it in one month. On my iPhone. My husband bought me a Kindle for my birthday and was ecstatic when I started donating all my paperback books from the basement. I’ve been a reading addict since I was about 3 years old and learned to read. I would go through periods of time when I would save up all my allowance as a kid and spend it all at Waldenbooks buying entire series of books at a time. When I started running out of money, I’d start buying books based on the number of pages! I would compulsively work my way through authors’ entire bodies of work (although Azimov broke me – I gave up after about 10 of his reference books). Even if the book was absolutely awful I would feel compelled to finish reading it and even then I’d go on to buy subsequent books by the same author. I can’t start a new book in the evening because I will not sleep until I’ve finished it, and I get seriously angry when the next book in a series is not available for kindle when I want to download it immediately.

    The saving grace for my Kindle is all the free and $1 books available for it. I’ve been downloading all the classics to reread just to keep myself from going broke. It is WAY too easy to buy ebooks since you don’t even have to leave the house. At times it seriously becomes an issue. My husband nags me for always reading and I’ve even gone on “errands” only to hunker down in a parking lot to read in peace. Yikes!

  47. I do have this problem right now my life is very hard so I looked it up… I realize that I do have this issue and I’m trying HARD to try and get into other things but when I woke up this morning the first thing I thought about was were my book was and what happened last time I was reading I then got out of bed and started reading… I read from when I wake up to when I go to sleep only sometimes breaking to get out the car or to go to school… this is a very hard thing to try and break but I am realizing that its something I really should break and that I need to face reality and that I cant just hide in the world and plots of my books.

  48. a point comes when you have to balance reading with writing. reading is like eating and writing is like exercise. but what about rest…? well, doing nothing much (lyming) is a sort of spaced out situation where you enter a meditative zone. it is not very different from a vacay on a far off island in the carribean. all work and no play makes jack a dead, dull and boring man (and jill a rich widow). and come on, i mean, lets face it, even the most inveterate intellectual comes to a point in his life where he doesn’t want to look at a book, far less read it. this is called supersaturation and requires a moratorium. a break from reality doesn’t necessarily have to be fantasy-based. rather it is an incubation period that allows breathing space to the unconscious to perform its intricate operations unhindered.

  49. I believe that i might have a reading addiction. The first book i picked up and read was Twilight. It was my senior year (last year) and i thought i needed something to do during my study halls and reading was it. I am now in my first year at college and I have more down time and more issues i have to deal with. and my room mates actually brought it up to me that all i ever do is sit in my room and read. i don’t hangout with them anymore and they had stopped asking me to do things with them because I just end up turning them down anyways. It really hurt me for them to say this. But at the time i was dealing with a lot of issues and i read to escape them. But there has to be a worse addiction then reading…

  50. I never really thought I had an addiction till my computer died one day. I decided to look through my books, even counting as I went. After getting to a hundered, I started to wonder…is there something wrong? My entire days had been spent on the internet, reading anything from online manga, to fanfiction. 100,000 wordstorys would be gone in hours, as I soon forget what it had even been about. I can never seem to go online without reading a story, and if I’m away, a nice fiction book helped me. Now that I think back, I know it’s true…and feel terrible. My new look on life is helping me, I now go out more often.

  51. One can be addicted to partying, praying, donating time to a worthy cause, helping out one’s neighbor, petting the cat, saying “I love you” to a spouse, etc etc etc. Where are the blogs for these? The word “addiction” is so loaded and carries negative connotations. Yes I am a reading addict. Guilty as charged.

  52. Too bad this very valuable advice has been spammed with comments by people who are so very obviously in denial.

    I’ve been struggling for a while to replace voracious and undiscriminating reading with more active pursuits, and was excited to find this helpful page. I was over 50 years old by the time I realized reading wasn’t always a positive use of one’s leisure time!

  53. My wife and I retire a little over one year ago. She now spends over 10 hours a day reading romance books. She often forgets important appointments and even when we drive hundreds of miles to visit our grandkids she spends much of the valuable visit time with her nose in a book. I have pleaded with her to cut her reading time back and be more a part of our life togeather but she just pouts and starts back again when I stop complaining. I go to be at 11:30 PM while she stays up reading until as late as 4 AM. I am at wits end??

  54. My wife and I retired a little over one year ago. She now spends over 10 hours a day reading romance books. She often forgets important appointments and even when we drive hundreds of miles to visit our grandkids she spends much of the valuable visit time with her nose in a book. I have pleaded with her to cut her reading time back and be more a part of our life togeather but she just pouts and starts back again when I stop complaining. I go to be at 11:30 PM while she stays up reading until as late as 4 AM. I am at wits end??

  55. well its nice to confirm that i am addicted to reading. which like the post says its not a good thing. I love going into another world and just leaving behind the boring existence we humans have…i need to get out more and do more activities…easy to read hard to do. wish me luck because reading that husbands’ post i realise that other people are affected by my reading and i need to focus on them. for the person who liked the twilight books try “Vampire academy” series it rocks! but don’t read them in one sitting….not healthy. Wish me luck in breaking my bad habit.

  56. And i am sure if you follow the sites advice your wives might leave there adventurous romances…to make one of their own with their husbands or maybe she could read out loud to you for an hour a day…only.. i dunno some ideas i wanted to share.

  57. My wife reads all of the time I guess you could say she has an addictive personality. It started with shopping then when the money was gone it went to eating then to online games and now books! She reads so much that my kids have a hard time getting her attention and she rarely plays with them. One day for her goes something like this- (wake up and read, eat, read, eat, read,eat, read,sleep) I have tried to talk to her about this and have told her that it is a problem and she is addicted but of course she denies it. So if you think you may have this problem please stop be for it to late and your kids are all grown up, or your youth is gone and have no idea where it went, or your husband leaves you and you still think he just went to the store 2 years ago! I am hoping it is not to late for my wife and I but I too am at wits end :(

  58. I’m only 14 and I’m a reading addict. All I want to do is read. I dont even like to go out anywhere or really do anything. When I go for a long car drive I bring a book with me. When I’m in school all I think about is a book I’ve read. And when I’m home i quickly do my home work then go to my room and read. Sometimes I stay up late on school nights to read. I wont go to bed till around one on school days and then I’m tired in school and cant think right….I try not to read as much but I cant help it sometimes D:

  59. I was reading today and my step mother came in and “caught me”. She said that I was addicted and I had to stop reading so often, that it was getting unhealthy, but my whole life I was told that reading was good for you, that it broadened one’s horizons and vocabulary . I learn things when I read. I wouldve never known that the human eye could only dialate to 9 mm of I hadn’t read it somewhere. I wouldn’t have learned the multitude of new words that friends of mine have never even heard of if I had never read. My step mom doesn’t get it. I’m happy when I read, when I’m reading, all my problems disappear. Is that so bad? I enjoy reading about other people’s problems because somehow all of them go away in the end and the good guys always win. I rely on that constant fact. That while the people I know around me change and things in my life get a little too hard to handle right away, my books are always there for me. They won’t ever change on me or leave me hanging (hypothetically). Is that so terrible? I know she’d rather me be addicted to reading whilst others are addicted to meth or other controlled substances. Reading cannot be a bad addiction. As long as I’m getting my homework done and I still have a great social life, I don’t see the problem with reading 2-4 hours a day. :) I’m not stopping, whatever she says, even if she has to drag me to booklovers anonymous.

  60. I am addicted to reading. I read at least 8 hours a day and ignore all around me. I get into a book and I can’t put it down. If I don’t have a book to read when the book I am reading is done, I get anxious. When I am not reading I almost don’t know what to do with myself. I started as a teenager and have continued on and off since. I have 4 children and have told myself that it’s good for them to see me love books and read, but know that I do it waaaay tooooo much. To the point that my daughter told me last night that all I do is read. I realize now that it is an escape from reality. How to stop is the question.

  61. I am in such a different place now than when I commented previously. I think there is some confusion In the comments between being out-of-balance and an addiction. To those that say, I’m a reading addict-yay, I say you either don’t get what an addiction is (would you ever say I’m a meth addict-yay) or else are in denial. I am a reading addict and read hundreds of books last yr. My reading was out of control and try as I might I couldn’t stop. My house started to look like the house of an addict b/c everything I did I had to have a book in hand. Family relations suffered, relationship with friends suffered. The need to read and the accompanying guilt of what was getting left undone were my daily existence. I thought, “but reading is good, I should just cut down” again missing the point that I couldn’t stop. I finally was pointed to an open 12 step addiction recovery program and my life is so different now. Instead of getting a fix from my reading I am out enjoying life, confident in my ability to handle reality w/o my books. I don’t need to avoid all reading, but I am aware of my addiction reads. After all, an alcoholic doesn’t need to give up drinking altogether, just the drinking of alcohol. I have been sober for three months now and so grateful for the support I’ve been given. I’m confident that if I stay on my path I will be able to remain sober, not just for my family, but for me. Good luck to those of you who feel your life is out of control w/books. Things can get better.

  62. I have a reading addiction something that i’ve only been aware of recently… I read all day everyday… i read from when i wake til i sleep while i’m eating and while in the bathroom… if i don’t have a book i read online it’s been giving me a headache but regardless i will read… i’m in college and have skipped classes over this… i know i need to get over this but i can’t seem to force myself to stop… your article was helpful but i need more… i only recently became aware of this when i lost last of my friends to this… and it’s been upsetting me… i need my balance… do you think you could give more advice…

  63. Hai i am 18 years old. I am very addicted to reading. When i come from college i am going stright away to read a book or reading online. I do not realy have social contact only at college. It is so worst that i forget the time and realize (after 9 hours) that i didn’t eat anything because i was buzy. I feel butterflies when i am reading, i am just in love and i feel thirsty and when i read it takes my thirsty feeling away. I really need to find a balance in my life.

  64. I’m a 17 year old girl who spends hours on end reading novels or any other sort of writing material. I read through all my classes unless I’m taking notes (I love to write) and even then sometimes I don’t take notes. My grades are going down hill and I continuously have to ask people what we need to do in class because I never pay attention. I even walk through my hallways now reading a book if I’m not with my boyfriend. I have two jobs, go to school, in cheerleading, and try to hang out with my boyfriend but even with all that, I read a book a day. I don’t go to bed until about 1-3 in the morning and then wake up at 6:30 to go to school. I’m always burnt out but if I don’t read then I start feeling fidgety. Other then my boyfriend I only have a few good friends and only talk with them in school or in classes, never outside of school. Maybe its just all in my head, maybe its not an addiction, reading is good for you right?

  65. Hi. My wife spends an inordinate amount of time & effort reading books. She’s beyond unproductive in the house or in our relationship because of it to the point where its heavily impacted our marriage towards actual divorce. Any ideas??

  66. Wil…we both seem to be going through the same thing. Only difference is that I’m not ready to give up just yet. I love my wife dearly…and I know she loves me. We have 3 kids, which two are toddler boys. My wife wakes up reading and go’s to bed reading. I feel terrible having to tell her she stinks from a lack of washing…or her breath continues to burn my nose hair due to lack of brushing and gargling.
    When I get off of work, my shift continues when I arrive home, cleaning up after everyone. I find myself having a silent attitude with my wife. I’ve said all I can say. Sometimes I just don’t want to look at her. This is not what me and the kids signed up for. Starving day in and day out…
    To all the spouses with this denied reading addiction, please wake up and get help.

  67. To: Frustrated husband and Will
    I am a wife and mother. I realize that I am addicted to reading and I my presence as a mother and wife have been absent… While I have begun to undestand the seriuslesness of my problem, I also know that I did not get here alone. Meaning, analyze how you might have neglected your wife before you judge…

  68. OMG, I am sooo in trouble! I am addicted to reading as well. I put so much money in books! I moved from paperback to ebooks because it is faster to buy and it takes less place. I am never without my Kindle. I go on holidays and spend time reading, I go out with my hubby and spend time reading in the car (until he protests too much). I read all the time. My husband is complaining, my daughter is complaining. I have less and less friends and I have less time for my brothers and mum. I am between jobs and I don’t even want to go back to wwork if it means taking time away from books to review my resume, work on my skills, attend interviews, spend a day in the office… I just want to “read my life away” and I’m never more happy than when I’m reading. I’m really, really in trouble. HELP!

  69. Iam a reading addict. For almost two years, I have had this problem. Mostly I read fantasy fiction, but newspapers and magazines work too.Everytime I get stressed, i read, it truly is a form of escapism, I am spending so much time in fantasy, I have lost touch with reality. I love reading, but now its takig over my life. Someone please , help me. I have no idea how to get over it.

  70. Thank you for posting this. This is very helpful to me. I am a 58-year-old professional woman with a great job and lots of friends, but suddenly (after both a significant personal loss and a challenging but unsuccessful project at work) find myself reading romance novels all the time – I mean 18 hours a day. I don’t call my friends back. I don’t cook – I eat crackers. I have used up years of accumulated sick time. I could not figure this out until it dawned on me last night that I was obviously hiding from my life. This post and many of the comments were very eye-opening. Guess I need to diversify my coping mechanisms… Thanks again.

  71. i wake up in the morning and i reach for my book to take to the toilet, i resent being anywhere that i cannot read i.e shower,walking the dogs,etc.,I have always loved reading but in the past i have let it go in favour of other pastimes (which by the way) i also became addicted to. Reading is pretty much easy to do along with other stuff, bathing, eating, etc.. The last few years my reading addiction has been permanent, i pretty much read morning noon and night, to the exclusion of any other hobbies. I love jigsaws, embroidery, tapestry, music and more but because my reading comes 1st I never do anything but read as I have very little free time. I am lucky cos my job enables me to read whenever i have no work to do which makes my addiction worse. I know that if i took an interest in my other hobbies i could break my habit but reading is such a lazy pastime that its a hard habit to break for full time workin mums. I want to take more interest in life so any advice would be gratefully accepted.

  72. When the twilight books came out my mom started reading very heavily. Since then my mom has been doing nothing but reading and it’s been getting worst. She gets up at 5 am to read goes to work. Gets home at 430 pm and reads until 12-2am. She refuses to make dinner and no one can talk to her any more. Guessing she reads 9 hours week days and up to 20 hours on the weekends. She hardly eat any more also. Any one have any advice on this kind of addiction? It’s like she doesn’t want ANY kind of reality any more. May be a mid life crisis but she still needs help. It’s been going on for about 2 years. When she gets a good book she pretends she is sick so she doesnt go to work

  73. I cn not stop reading until I am too tierd after 28 hours of non-stop reading. All I want to do is to finsih the whole series. What can I do to stop the urge?? I don’t know if I am escaping from the reality of exams and all, but I just really really really like the novel. Please help me.

  74. My entire family has a habit of escapism through reading…family argument? Read…uncomfortable situation…read…bored …read..My husband jokes with me about it being an addiction I really think he has a point because I truly empathize with what everyone who wrote. There are times when I can’t stand to be without something to read…just today driving to an appointment…I started reading every time I stopped at a red light. I was excited that my husband went away for the weekend because that meant more time with my books. I also, have pretended to be sick so I could stay home and read and I have gone without sleep for the same reason. I guess it is good that even though I dont want to leave my reading I will still go play with my kids and go to the gym, and work.

  75. I read every chance I get- books, magazines, product labels, grocery receipts, graffiti on walls, traffic signs, news and science articles on the internet. Its unbearable! But I can’t and don’t want to quit. Never!

    I even read my comments before posting them!!!

  76. Hi, I spend about 3 hrs. a day reading books and about 2 additional hours in the internet reading anything that interests me. I don’t know if I’m doing this to escape from reality. But I think that this is not good. Whenever I spend the day busy and did not have a chance to read I would feel guilty and I have a feel of emptiness. May be the reading fills some kind of void. I suffer from add (attention deficit disorder), my type is overfocused, I believe that this reading is due to my overfocusing. It is normally very hard for me to stop doing something once I start anything. I remember when I used to work I used to be a workaholic, I could even work over time with no pay, I had to actually say the word “stop” so that I would stop working and go home. I’m a single mom and have had a lot of problems with my 21 year old son, since he was little due to his (ADHD). And since I haven’t had much support with him, I also think I’ve used my work, reading, computer to escape. Since I don’t like taking prescription drugs, I think this has become some kind of therapy.

  77. It is not actually reading that causes problem here but instead it is the way a person make use of its “natural” purpose. If we are getting good results out of reading then it MUST be continued. Keep on reading if it will give the information that will be of good use, if it can serve as a stress reliever, and if it somehow transforms you into a better being. Conversely, if it will put you in a state of mind that can hinder the undisturbed process of others life and yours; do not hesitate in thinking of other means of making your day more meaningful. “Other means” do not necessarily indicate STOP READING, I am just pointing out that we should not indulge on one thing but instead, find a balance in everything we do.

  78. I was wondering why after reading I was feeling this over whelming sense of let down, and despair, all of which would go away as soon as I started reading the next book. At one point I said to myself, how sad is my life that the only friends I have are the one’s I make in the books? With the accesability of books through the Nook I was, (am), buying a new book one right after the next. It’s to the point where I’m ditching work to read, reading all weekend, reading in the morning to the point where if I do go to work I’m late; sometimes by a hour. I’m not surprised that I’m suffering from reading addiction, I just didn’t know it was real, and that others experienced it too. Thanks for this article now I know how to at least help myself.

  79. I think I’ve known for sometime that I’m addicted to reading so decided to reasearch the subject. Perhaps reading too much is an escape from reality at times for all who read but I’m not convinced that is, in itself completely wrong. If reading too much takes a person away from their responsibilites and obligations to family, friends and work – not to mention the ability and taking time to socialize with others – that to me is where the problem lies. I believe I’m guilty on all counts (not every day but certainly at times) and can now see that I must change this part of my life. Thank you all for sharing as it’s been a great deal of help.

  80. Telltale signs of a reading addiction:

    1. You need to go to the bathroom, and run around madly trying to find a book, a magazine, a newspaper, a catalog — ANYTHING! One of these days, you won’t make it in time.

    2. You would much prefer to read while eating than conversing with, say, your spouse, or the people attending the dinner party you are giving.

    3. While driving, you keep something to read open on the seat next to you, handy for the red lights. You then don’t hear the horns behind you at all, until somebody gives you a nudge.

    4. You fail to notice when the airplane you are riding in lands so hard that everybody else screams in panic. What?

    5. When the airplane reading lights go out, you practically froth at the mouth, punching the call button repeatedly in despair.

    6. You start a trip with one small bag, but return with a new duffle bag filled with books. (In my case, I stopped in LA for a day on my way to Japan, and bought about 45 books at a science fiction bookstore in Santa Monica. I had to ship most of them home, because I couldn’t take them on the plane.)

    7. You don’t get it when people look at you with pity. And you don’t care, either.

    Still, I’m afraid I wouldn’t have it any other way. I do try to curb my behavior, but fundamentally I just LOVE TO READ! Let the rest of the world adjust.

  81. Im going to be a senior in high school this year and every since 4th grade i read for about 12 hours a day. I cant go a day without reading. Iv also put every single book iv read on a list and im soon to hit 7250. This is not something im proud of, I cant even leave my house with out a book in my hand. Im not sure if i read to escape or not. the thing is im happy with my life its just that when i read a book i become so much more happy. i also have a weak body which means im in the hospital for about half the year and i cant do any physical activities either. do i have an addiction?

  82. I have a reading addiction…i have known it for a while..it has led to so many problems from destroying relationships to masturbation…i am determined to stop. Please anyone who has actually been able to overcome this addiction should please share how he or she did it.

  83. This is such an interesting site! According to my parents, I taught myself how to read when I was 3 years old, by watching my parents teach my older brother. I am now 24, and since then, I have had random spurts of reading obsessively, and I think they are linked to a combination of addiction, depression, and avoiding reality. I’m not addicted to any substances- both of my parents come from family’s of alcoholics, so just in case addiction is hereditary, I have always steered clear of drugs or smoking, and have consumed alcohol only in moderation (except that one time, which reinforced my plan to keep it moderate).

    In middle school and high school I would read a lot of the time, and it did not interfere with school- I got A’s and B’s. However, my mom would always tell me I didn’t have enough friends, which really upset me. I always ended up with one or two really good friends, and avoided big groups or wild parties. But, I never hung out with friends during the week, only on weekends- I would usually just read in my room when I was at home. It also never occured to me to stay up too late reading books, which I am glad for. I think I knew I avoided living at that point in my life, but didn’t understand it. I joined the academic team, and I was in orchestra, and participated in all of our church group activities, just because I knew that would keep my parents from worrying about me being anti-social.

    When I got to college, I forced myself to do the same- I knew I wouldn’t interact or be involved or meet people and make friends if I didn’t join a club or do something important. So I volunteered to be president of the geology club (I’m a geologist). Probably one of the best moves I ever made, because I made connections and found friends and study-buddies. Also, by forcing myself into a position of importance, anxious though I was, I had to show up every meeting, and couldn’t reason myself into skipping out. The extra reading was minimal in college, because there was always too much to do. But now, I’m working a normal 8-5 job, and I have a great boyfriend, but he’s gone overseas for weeks at a time every couple of months (he’s an academic, and attends a lot of conferences and collaboration meetings). Often before the meetings and travel, he is working late every night trying to get everything prepared for when he’s gone. So, because he’s gone so often, and I still haven’t made more than a few friends, fewer still close enough to call up when I’m bored, I’ve taken to reading… a lot. I’ll go through a whole series, or all the works of one author. If I haven’t found something new that is substantial enough, I won’t read at all. But, I went through everything by Jane Austen, a lot of other classics, all of the law-related books by John Grisham, and now I’ve finally entered the world of fantasy. I like to think I only read when my boyfriend is gone because I am just filling in the time, but I think it is actually more avoiding the reality that I’m alone and will be for a week or more, and I’m depressed by it. And when I do start the reading, I have trouble stopping it. I will sit on the couch all weekend reading, not doing much of anything else. The house becomes a mess, with plates piled up wherever I’ve eaten and read at the same time, not eating the right kind, or enough, food, scavaging cupboards for food instead of going out to the store, only sleeping 6 hours a night (for me that’s not normal, I usually get 9). Sometimes I’ll realize what I’ve done (or didnt do) and do something about it- load and start the dishwasher, start a load of laundry, etc.- but other times I’ll look at the mess and go to a different room, and just avoid it. Sometimes I’ll call in sick to work and read all day, though my sick days are few so I don’t do that anymore, or take a book to work and read. It gets worse when there isn’t anything to work on at work (business is slow right now), so I can’t force myself to break away from the books for the work day. But, at least because I commute to work, it’s not hard to stop at the store on my way home.

    So, I think I have a reading addiction, and it is definitely used to avoid reality. I have anxiety almost all of the time- I hate making phone calls or doing things on my own. I know about it though, so I really force myself to deal with it. I moved 6,000 miles away for college so I could break free from home dealings and start fresh. Although, maybe it was just a good excuse to shed the reality of life there and make a new one. But, it helped because I know I can do things alone, even if I don’t like it. Also, my boyfriend being gone often reinforces the idea that I can function alone, which is good for me. But, I wish I could get a better handle on the reading when he is gone. At least I know it is a real problem now, and I can take steps to solve it, before it gets out of hand. Reading other people’s posts is a real wake-up call for me, so thank you everyone for posting. I definitely need to find a way to keep in touch with reality, even when I am depressed. And sooner is better, because who knows if I’ll be able to find a job the next time we move, or if I will end up being a stay-at-home mom at some point, without the need to get up and go to work in the morning to keep me getting up and ready for the day. My mom had that problem with 4 kids, she’d get us ready to go to the bus stop, then watch soaps all day and sometimes still not be up and dressed when we got home.

    So anyway, dealing with emotional problems is difficult, whether stress, anxiety, depression, etc., even if they are minor or come and go. I’m glad there is an outlet available (reading) that doesn’t physically destroy people like drugs, but it’s scary to think about depending on it so much as to being out of control or fully out of touch with reality. I’m definitely going to try and keep my reading binges in check from now on, so that if the underlying emotional problems do get worse, I’ll have the framework in place to dealing with the reality. Sorry this is so long, I tend to really think things out, and do it best while writing.

  84. What if I just like to read? I currently quit hanging out with my friends as much because I no longer smoke weed or drink. This was due to the fact that I am planning on enlisting in the Marines and do not want to risk me getting in trouble for any reason to further prolong the process. I personally found that reading was a great replacement for smoking marijuana and has made the transition to being drug free much easier! However, is this a bad decision that I have made?

  85. JMJ Hello I to have a problem with reading Constantly. I’m also a member of Alcoholics Anonymous,Nicotine Anonymous,(I’m sure some of you may know what they are). Everyone who posted here about their Slavery (Addiction) to reading Must take an Honest Look at themselves to find the answer to Y you do what you do.To Start with You are Very Unhappy,Think I’m wrong? You are Unhappy because life isn’t according to your Wants, Not going Your way.Your reading is an outward sign of your Unhappiness inside You, Emotionally your a Wreck that is ongoing. The same with smokers, alcoholics, Gamblers, Drug Addicts (Cocaine, pot, grass, Meth,etc.)Where you live your Unhappy with Spouse, Family, Boy/Girl Friends, etc. You don’t communicate why your unhappy, what your afraid of,Remember We are selfish people we want things our way or else. Like the two yr. old not getting his/her way throwing a tantrum, give them a bottle or a Stuff a Pacifer in their mouth. Adults look really foolish with a babies bottle in their mouth,So instead our Pacifier is Cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, sex, Gambling, Soap operas,pornography, TV, Jogging, BOOKS, You’d be amazed what we do Looking for Love, Happiness,Etc. All of the above Will not make us Happy. Happiness is an Inside Job, Nothing External will make us Happy.Only God If and When we have him in our Hearts, That’s where Love Lives/Reides and it Will Grow as We Learn to Love God First than ourselves and our Neighbors, Even our Enemies. Want to meet a Perfect Stranger take a Look at the image of yourself in a Mirror. To know yourself You must Examine your Conscience. Talk to People in Your Lives (Or maybe Not in your life)Tell them why Your Miserable. Erin you Communicate alot here probably Never with your Parents (Always in your room reading) Learn to talk about you. All of Us. Respectfully with Love, Joesph J. Pippet… Wildwood, New Jersey… USA

  86. JMJ Hello “name says”. I don’t know you But, i think your Very young. Thank God you put down the drugs (alcohol Is a Drug as is marijuana as You know)Your reading instead of doing drugs, How long do you think that will last? I joined the Marine Corps when I was 17 (instead of doing drugs, etc., just kidding)Bad decision,(I thought they would make a man of me, Doesnt work that way, To becme a Man we most start from the inside and work outwards) for me! I had emotional problems, was Unhappy was in Marine Corps for 7 months got an Honorable discharge for medical reasons, (Unhappy for 50 some years of my life, drinking,smoking, sex)If your going to Join the Marine Corps I’d Suggest you’d wait at least a year before doing so,(Make sure you don’t start drinking, pot, etc.) Smoking pot in the Marine Corps could get you time in the Brig (Prison) Guarantee you will not like it! Think a Good while why you want to join the armed forces. Talk with someone about more Education or Learning a Good trade, Plumber, carpenter, Auto mechanic,Electrician,Truck driver,Heck maybe a police officer, etc. But First get to know Yourself. You were a Pothead for awhile recently what makes you think you will not become one again??? Talk with someone you Trust, Preferably an Adult.Most of All put God in your Life.By the way i’m 75. Very sick old Man But a Happy sick old man,took over 50 years to Learn what a man is, it’s not his penis it’s what’s in Us through the Love of God.Respectfully with Love, Joseph J. Pippet, Wildwood, New Jersey… USA

  87. Do You Have A Reading Addiction? … I do!

    Do you read for hours and days at a time? Do you ignore or ‘forget’ your responsibilities? Do you engage in antiscocial behavior so that you can read more? Has school, work, or personal relationships suffered because of your reading habit? Do you use reading to escape from physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual pain? Have you engaged in secretive or deceitful behaviors to cover up or hide your reading? Have you tried before to stop or cut back on your reading and found yourself unable to? If you can’t read for a certain length of time, do you find yourself anxious, twitchy, and irritable? When you aren’t reading, do your thoughts constantly focus on reading and getting back to it? Have you ever felt guilty or ashamed beacause of your reading habits and read more to escape from those feelings?

    You’re not alone. I too am a reading addict and have been one for about 15 years. My particular craving is for fantasy, sci-fi, and fanfiction. It has affected my schooling and personal relationships and made me ashamed of myself. I tried stopping on multiple occaisions and couldn’t. I tried to deny for a long time that my reading itself was a problem, placing blame anywhere else. But finally enough was enough. I found a group that focused on overcomeing addictions and compulsions and have now begun to work a 12 Step recovery program. It’s not focused on my particular addiction, but I am finding it to be very insightful and spot on with its descriptions of an addicts mental processes… and how to recover. Since I have began, I have found my self with an increased work ethic, improved relationships, renewed sense of spirituality, a reignited creativity, and an overall renewed thirst for life. Its not been perfectly smooth sailing of course. It’s been very hard emotionally to dig up the roots of my problem and be confronted by my failings. I’ve also had to completely stop from reading fictional stories. I may be able to read them again without the compulsive behavior, but for now I’m in a process of retraining my brain; of forging new neural pathways… healthier ones. I heard somewhere that it took 30 days of abstinence to evercome a bad habit and retrain the brain. I’m not sure if that’s true since I’m only 10 days in, but I’m sure I’ll find out. The one thing I’m absolutely sure of is that I refuse to let things go back to the way they were. Things have to change… I have to change.

  88. Lots of interesting comments to read.

    This article is good, because I’ve read hundreds of self help books and online articles and never come across a reading addiction as such. I’ve heard people mention reading a lot of fantasy, or romance. In my case I believed it was a computer addiction and didn’t make a connection to the rest of it.

    This is how it’s affected me – perhaps others will relate.

    1. can’t eat breakfast unless I’m reading.

    2. reading fiction excessively in school holidays, ended up needing glasses

    3. online addiction, away from the computer thinking about what you’ve read or what you want to write during the day, craving the moment you can do it.

    4. trying to read lots of non-fiction books at once, can’t stop until you reach the end

    5. having to read a thriller in one go as you feel anxious if you put it down

    6. the best part about participating in forums is writing then re-reading your own posts many times. Spending a long time editing your posts and reading them.

    7. finding it impossible to moderate online reading.

    8. wanting to find the perfect book or online article to get that ‘high’ and feeling irritated if you can’t find it.

    9. Topic obsessions. At one stage I was buying every single magazine that was available to do with hobbies each week, plus books and kits. Costing a fortune.
    Now it’s self help.

    10. either had in the past, or currently having other addictions.

    11. avoiding doing things you’re supposed to do, or avoiding thinking of something that causes you pain.

    12. doing chores and needing to have the right (as in that high feeling) audio book on in the background. Feel anxious if it doesn’t hit the spot.

    Now I’ve realised my problem might be down to reading rather than the computer, I might be able to tackle differently.

    Good luck everyone.

  89. Great article. I am 14 and I think I might have a reading addiction. During school, I read as much as I can possibly get away with during class, I read during lunch even when I sit with a few people I know and they try to talk to me. After school, I am ALWAYS reading instead of doing homework or anything else that needs to be done, resulting in me staying up all hours of the night to finish the assignments and read more still. I often drive people away because they get bored with my tendency to prefer reading over talking to them. I am also a schizoid, which basically means I prefer to be alone, so I guess that really doesn’t help. Although I read fast, plowing through book after book every day, I do actually absorb all of the information and care about the quality of the writing, unlike one thing I’ve heard about reading addiction. Also, I always find myself convinced that I am the main character of the book I’ currently reading until somebody manages to distract me long enough for me to realize that I’m not. It often feels like I was daydreaming or experiencing the other half of my double life after reading, like I am me while also being a completely different person from a book. I also can’t go anywhere without a book or my nook with me. I always find myself wishing I had brought it so I could be reading at that time and desperately searching for anything I can read to tide me over. I am not too sure if this is reading addiction, since there are a few symptoms (if that is what you would call them) that I’m missing.

  90. hi
    I have the same problem as mentioned in #36 above. i.e. i ignore EVERYTHING when i’m reading. (i even forget to eat and drink) and despite the fact that i’ve a LOT of hobbies, i end up reading for days and nights continuously when i’m on one of my reading bouts (which last for a week or even more). i become extremely snappy if i get disturbed in this duration, lose track of time and can think of NOTHING else when i pick up to read. it can be anything from fan fiction, comic, novels, articles even essays (but sadly that never happens with my curriculum books). i even go through the “after-i-finish-this-i’m-getting-back-to-work” syndrome but never get to it. my

  91. hi
    I have the same problem as mentioned in #36 above. i.e. i ignore EVERYTHING when i’m reading. (i even forget to eat and drink) and despite the fact that i’ve a LOT of hobbies, i end up reading for days and nights continuously when i’m on one of my reading bouts (which last for a week or even more). i become extremely snappy if i get disturbed in this duration, lose track of time and can think of NOTHING else when i pick up to read. it can be anything from fan fiction, comic, novels, articles even essays (but sadly that never happens with my curriculum books). i even go through the “after-i-finish-this-i’m-getting-back-to-work” syndrome but never get to it. my parents are sick of this habit of mine (so am i) but i just can’t seem to leave a book once i’ve started reading them- even if it’s boring and predictable, i still see it through to the end- and it’s driving me crazy. not to mention the fact that it’s also affecting my studies immensely. i USED to be a top-student and now i’m just an average scorer and it’s hurting me but i just can’t seem to discipline myself enough to put everything on the back burner and study or even exercise daily. do i need to seek professional assistance?

  92. I was doing some reading(no pun intended)last night and came upon this topic. It was only by happenstance I found it. I was looking desperately for some answers to why it is that my nephew spends endless hours with his head buried in a book? When he’s not reading a book, he is on the computer for hours on end, or on his mobile devise reading incessantly. It has become a problem for which I have no answers for, neither do I have the time and patience to help him through it. So many of the characteristics of this addiction describe him perfectly. After several conversations with him about it, just like a drug addict, he is also in complete denial. He refuses to recognize this addiction as a stifle to his spiritual as well as his overall growth as a man. Now, don’t get me wrong, this guy is one of the smartest bulbs in the lamp, so I know if he were to allow himself to find balance, he would see the benifits of that balance.

    Even the most mundane of chores cannot be accomplished because he’s trying to read at the same time. Eating is also a real issue which he can’t concentrate on due to his addiction. He has allowed reading to be his “food” After happening upon this article, I had to at least vent a little bit(o k, a lot) This is a real problem. I realize there are circumstances in our lives that cause us to retreat into seemingly another world, but it is very frustrating to see someone you love so dearly appear to waste away right before your very own eyes. Yes, reading is great, but when the addiction causes one to be oblivious to the reality of life it becomes a very tragic circumstance. All I can do is pray for him.

  93. I am 28 years old and have loved to read and books in general ever since I can remember. I am told my father was the same way, he passed quite tragically when I was a small child. I used to read because it made me feel close to him, something he loved to do that we had in common. I work 55 hours a week at a small medical office and still find time to read at least 8 novels a month. While that is no where near to what some of you are reading to most of my family and friends it’s incomprehensible to read this much. I never re-read anything because I feel I could be reading something new. I carry a Scrabble dictionary with me and read it in traffic jams, drive-thru lines and stop lights. I used to spend an average of $150/month at Barnes and Noble and Amazon but now am content visiting my local library an average of 3 times/week. I live for movies based on books especially those with author commentary, interviews or featurettes about the book. I’m not into e-readers because I love the experience of being burried in the book itself. I collect bookmarks and bookplates. My latest love is my pyramid reading pillow that makes the experience all the more enjoyable. I fear death simply because I would not be able to finish my reading list. I have skipped out on parties and family events because I sometimes prefer the company of fictional characters. My vacation iteneraries always include stops at vintage bookshops. I’m not sure if I am a reading addict. I just know that I love to read. I really can’t think of anything I love to do more.

  94. Thanks for this post. I’m trying to give up my addiction to reading fanfic. I would literally start reading the moment I woke in the morning. I even occasionally got up in the middle of the night to start reading. I let this drag on until I quit work to start University, but now I cannot concentrate on my studies because as soon as I sit down at my PC to study, guess what? Straight to fanfic. I decided the best way forward is to give up completely, but in honesty it feels like giving up the best part of my life. I’m aware of how sad that sounds! I don’t have an awful life so I don’t understand it. I’m happily married, have great friends… but none of it gives me as much joy as fanfic. Its like everything is in black and white but fanfic is in technicolour. Stupid analogy I know, but I don’t know how else to describe it.
    I’m sure with some will power I manage to refrain from reading fanfic for long enough, the cravings will cease (and my god do I get cravings!), but what I dont know is if the rest of my life will ever seem as vivid as fanfic does? Or will it just be a hole in my existence that is never filled?

  95. I am so glad to have found this blog as my relationship is ending because of a reading addiction my partner has. I have said for a year and a half that she was reading instead of dealing with the issues we needed to face as a couple yet she decided that reading was more important than us and working on us. And now…we’re at the end, she finally has woken up and realized that things need to change, that she is not happy yet she still continues to read every moment she can.

    At least reading this blog helps me see that I wasn’t incorrect in thinking that she was reading to escape us, her work and the other feelings and emotions that she doesn’t/hasn’t wanted to face over these many years.

    Thanks.

    Mac

  96. I appreciate the post.

    This addiction has most definately taken over my wife. It all started when I was deployed and Twilight Saga began. She started with the books, reading them 11 times straight through, then has moved to http://www.fanfiction.net in the Twilight genre. Needless to say I literally loath Edward Cullen and crowd!

    Since returning home 2 years ago she has devoted nearly every waking moment to reading and logging progress of the fanfction twilight stories. I am not exaggerating at all when I say she has completely disengaged from responsibility and relationships. Her fanfiction reading schedule (which is very fluid based on her ability to maintain awareness) is like this 6 sometimes 7 days a week: 0600-0830 break from reading to attempt sleep, 0830-1400/1600hrs sleep, mid afternoon (1400-1600hrs) wake, go to kitchen get a Diet Pepsi and M&Ms head back up stairs to strat reading, 1600-1900 hrs read and wait for me to fix dinner, 1900-2100hrs turn on TV to watch X-Factor or some reality show and maybe eat but always waits till it is cold, 2100-0600hrs lay in bed with Nook and read straight through the night.

    Admittedly, I have run the gammit on emotions over the issue and have tried everything possible to get her to do something with me and the family…nothing works. One would think that she is depressed but in all reality she is happy as can be doing what she does. In addition, she only showers once a week, complains about her eyes, back, and headaches but does not believe anything is wrong.

    I have two daughters who live with us still (21 and 22yrs old) who will be out soon. They too have tried but she does not budge. Any discussion on the topic or challenge to get her involved with someother activity simply causes rage on her part.

    I am absolutely beside myself but know I cannot live this way for ever. Marriage was not designed to be lived alone. After 24 years together and completion of my military career, I really had home and dreamed that she and I would spent the later part of life best friends with full of adventure.

    Any insite would be appreciated. If not, then simply thank you for the opportunity to share my story.
    Hopefully, nobody else has to tolorate such lack of respect for the institution of marriage and friendship.

    Respectfully,

    Vaughan

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