I’ve recently been pondering the question: Can reading be unhealthy? My immediate answer is no, because there are so many good and positive benefits for our mental, emotional, and spiritual health from reading books that feed our hearts and minds. Many studies have shown that illiteracy and being unable to read, listen, comprehend or communicate via language leads to poor outcomes.
Can reading too much be a problem? More specifically, can reading too many fiction books lead to negative outcomes? I’ve stumbled across a couple of book vloggers on YouTube who have talked about the downside of reading too much. Anything from the stress of meeting book reading annual targets to fulfilling book reviewing or influencer reading commitments to general burn out and not wanting to read at all.
Audiobooks have provided a wonderful alternative to eyestrain and other physical limitations to reading words on a page. Devices that allow font size changes and lighting adjustments have made it easier for many people to read without experiencing physical problems, including headaches and migraines.
A few weeks ago I was in Sydney, and I visited the newsagent store where my grandmother used to buy her monthly supply of category romance books. She passed away thirty years ago, and newsagent stores are totally different now to what they looked like last century. Physical newspapers and magazines were almost nonexistent. The stationery section was tiny. The book section was large, but it didn’t stock category romance. Giftware items made up the bulk of the retail floorspace.
My grandmother’s biggest hobby was reading. Her house contained boxes and boxes and more boxes of books. She’d read nearly all of her books, and she loaned them out to my aunts and her close friends who’d add their first name initials to the first page to help track who had read each book. And, my grandmother allowed me to explore her book collection and follow in her footsteps by developing my love for reading romance. My family is happy that my book hoarding habit is electronic rather than having a house filled with boxes of books, lol.
I remember family members criticising my grandmother for spending most of her time sitting on her front porch reading romance novels. She’d put aside her book to chat with neighbors who were out and about, and she’d always give visitors her full attention. I was outspoken, and I’d stand up for my grandmother and her right to spend her leisure time doing something she loved. The romance haters and reading grinches could keep their opinions to themselves!
I’ve always viewed diving into a book and becoming immersed in a great story as a constructive and positive way to escape the stress and pressures of life. Exercising while reading or listening to a book or a podcast combines the best of both worlds. My grandmother’s life wasn’t easy. She was married only a few weeks before my grandfather was deployed in the Australian Army during WW2. In the early 1950’s she sadly lost her third daughter who was only a toddler, and nearly lost my mother as well, to encephalitis.
I understood why my grandmother chose to read happy books, as she called them, to experience joy and optimism and hope. I read in different genres, but most of the books I read are CCR (contemporary Christian romance). If I’m looking for a happy and hope-filled story, I have a long line of CCR ebooks in my Kindle ready to meet that need.