I’m addicted and someone’s going to pay

I guess I’ve been too lighthearted when I’ve said in the past that I may be am “addicted” to reading. Turns out there “arguably” is such a thing as a reading addiction.

When does reading become an addiction? Well, “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.” Great! My dream of actually being able to read all day means I’m deranged, mentally ill!!

But, then, maybe that response is just a phase of my addiction. You know, denial. Isn’t there something about admitting you have a problem before you can deal with the problem?

Damn! There is. The web site actually says that convincing yourself that heavy reading is not unhealthy is denial. (Emphasis from web site.)

So, maybe I’m being too flippant about this. I better see if there’s any truth to this possibility of an addiction. Unfortunately, suggestions on coping with a reading addiction may confirm the worst.

“Have you tried unsuccessfully to cut back on your reading?” Maybe, I only cut back on my reading if real life demands it.

“Are you preoccupied with thoughts of the book when you are away from it?” Maybe, it depends on how good it is.

“Does reading help you escape from your problems?” Duh. After all, to quote a song, “You can’t run away forever/But there’s nothing wrong with getting a good head start.” (Oh no!!! Should I worry about a music addiction too??? I better read up on that.)

But so I have the symptoms, does it really mean there’s a problem? Things are looking bleak again as I itemize various problems believed to be associated with reading:

“How many book groups do you belong to?” None. That would require leaving the house and take time away from reading.

“Do you still recognize your family members when you pull yourself out of a book?” You mean my family is still alive?

“Have you gone into debt buying books?” First, I want to know if there are good and bad levels of debt for purposes of this question.

“Do you sneak out of work to visit a bookstore or library, just so you can be surrounded by books?” You don’t?

Perhaps I should just admit it. After all, I had to read web sites to figure this out — just more proof of the insidious nature of my disease. But if I’m addicted, someone is to blame. Let’s see, I need to get a list of my elementary school teachers, then there’s that favorite aunt of mine who always bought me books, the various libraries and bookstores I’ve frequented and, oooh, a real deep pocket, Amazon. I might even be able to convert this into a great class action!

But mentioning libraries, bookstores and Amazon reminds me — maybe before filing suit I better see if I can find a book about reading addiction.

Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled “This could change your life.”

Helen Exley

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