Can You Read Too Much? (Pros and Cons of Reading)


Reading is a common hobby many enjoy, including myself. The price point is low (especially if you join your local library), you can read anywhere, and it is endlessly enjoyable. According to Pew Research Center, the average American read 14 books over the past 12 months.

Reading too much is possible, as with any other pastime. If you spend too much time reading, other areas in your life may become lacking. The key is to strike a healthy balance.

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss how reading too much could have a negative impact. I’ll also explain the benefits of reading, the importance of identifying the motivations behind reading, and how to find a balance through related interests.

Reading Too Much Can Have a Negative Impact

Reading has more benefits than drawbacks. However, the key phrase here is ‘too much.’ It is important to identify the possible negative impact reading too much could have. This way, you’ll have an awareness and can build best practices.

There are four primary negative impacts of reading too much:

  • Other responsibilities of your life could become neglected. Even though reading is a beneficial pastime, there is still an opportunity cost, and you won’t have time to engage in other activities. This includes spending time with friends and family, physical activity, working on tasks at your place, and potentially sleep (depending on how avid of a reader you are!).
  • The habit could turn from enjoyable to obsessive. We live in a competitive world. Even reading has turned into a comparison activity through Goodreads and book challenges. With this mindset, reading becomes another task on the to-do list, so you don’t ‘fall behind’ others.
  • You could experience information overload. Typically, information overload is associated with the news and social media, however it applies to reading as well. Information inundates us from the moment we wake up until our eyes close at the end of the day. Books add to this and could contribute to difficulty making decisions or understanding an issue due to too much information.
  • Your physical health could be impacted. While reading is active for the mind, it is a physically passive activity. In addition, eye strain can occur.

Benefits of Reading

So, after discovering the drawbacks of reading too much, why would you still want to read? Because it is a timeless, highly beneficial pastime!

Reading isn’t a casual activity that humankind recently stumbled upon. According to Science.org, people have been reading for 5,000 years. The longevity of reading certainly can be attributed to its usefulness.

The following are reasons why reading is a desirable pastime:

  • Reading is fun! Many find ample enjoyment through reading. Not only is it a calming activity to enjoy, but you are also immersed in stories and worlds which you’d never be exposed to otherwise. Often, these experiences can seem more fun than ‘real-life.’
  • The more you read, the better communicator you become. According to Edutopia, there is a link between reading for pleasure and developing language skills, including a more advanced vocabulary.
  • You can learn about the world through information, human experiences, and stories. Books are portals that transport you. You can learn a new skill, delve into research, act as a hero in a fantasy, and even be a fly on the wall in someone else’s life.
  • Reading is accessible. Thanks to local public libraries, cost doesn’t have to prohibit someone from reading. It is free to check out books! In addition, you can read practically anywhere. I know I always have a book on hand just in case.

Ask Yourself Why You Are Reading

To determine if your reading habits serve you well, a little self-reflection may be beneficial.

Are you reading because you genuinely enjoy it? Carry on! Or are you reading because you’re attempting to gain an impressive book count and impress others? It may be time to reevaluate your habit.

Do you enjoy relationships with fictional characters while maintaining relationships with friends and family? Keep going! Or do you find yourself turning inward and prioritizing relationships with book characters over those with friends and family? If so, you may need to pull back.

Are you reading as a fun, temporary escape from the real world? Go for it! Or do you find yourself consistently enjoying the book world over reality? This may indicate you need to make a change for your happiness.

Asking yourself questions like these can determine if you have a healthy relationship with reading. Do a self-inventory now and then to ensure reading is helping and not hurting!

If you’re an avid reader but have realized you need a better balance in your life, I have great news for you! There are various activities tied to reading while also encouraging more variety.

Here are some activities to consider:

  • Join a book club to discuss your reading while also building relationships.
  • Read while on the treadmill (carefully!) or outside; listening to audiobooks is also a good idea during these activities.
  • Connect with others on Goodreads.
  • Leverage your passion for reading into a love of writing.
  • Read a ‘how-to’ book, then take action on it.

As you can see, there are many facets of reading to explore. Even if you don’t identify as reading too much, you can still give them a try. Who knows? Engaging in these may inspire an even deeper appreciation for reading.

Final Thoughts

Reading is an activity many engage in for a good reason. It’s a hobby that not only grows your intelligence but is also highly enjoyable.

However, as with everything in life, there can be too much of a good thing. There are drawbacks to reading too much, and it’s important to reflect upon your habit to make sure it’s healthy.

If you need or would like to expand your reading hobby, take a chance on a related interest. You may find broadening your experiences helps you enjoy reading even more.

The literary world and the real world are both beautiful.

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