Reading Addiction. Is Your Addiction to Books Becoming a Problem?

Reading Addiction

Our love for books and reading takes many different forms. Each reader has unique preferences, unique reading habits, and a different way of loving books. Here at Basmo, we support the passion for reading in all of its forms, and we encourage every single one of our users to figure out every single thing that brings them joy and allows them to enjoy reading. 

But what happens when our love for reading takes a more twisted turn, what can we do when we start loving books just a little too much? Can our love for reading develop into a reading addiction or can we develop an addiction to books? 

As it turns out, there is quite a lot to explore on this topic and we dedicated quite a lot of time and resources to find out everything you need to know about this potentially dark side of your favorite hobby.

Can you be addicted to reading?

Yes, your reading habits can develop into an addiction. Like every other activity you can think of, reading can have a dark side. Even the banalest and most ordinary activities can become addictive if we abuse them. Just like you can become addicted to food, alcohol, or anything else that brings you a form of joy, your brain can rewire itself into developing an addiction to reading under certain circumstances.

An addiction to reading is usually not as serious as the others that come to mind. After all, reading is an incredibly beneficial activity that can help you become a much better version of yourself. The problem appears when your love for books starts to take over your desire to be connected to the real world.  

What Is The Addiction To Reading Called?

One thing you need to be made aware of right off the bat is that reading addiction comes in two different forms: an addiction to the actual reading as an activity, and an addiction to books as objects. 

When it comes to the addiction to books, the scientific term for the condition is bibliomania. It is defined as an obsessive-compulsive disorder that manifests itself as an excessive need to collect or even hoard books. To make a clear distinction between bibliomania and bibliophilia, we need to mention that while bibliophilia is a healthy love for owning books, bibliomania goes further and becomes an issue that affects the person’s relationships and health.

The addiction to reading has been named by the Germans back in the 1700s. As a matter of fact, the Germans came up with several terms to describe this condition: Lesesucht, which means exactly an addiction to reading, Lesewut (reading rage), and Leserei (reading mania). Even though these terms were used somewhat abusively back in the 18th century to describe the switch that was happening amongst readers who started enjoying general literature more than the religious texts they were reading up until that point, they remain a very good name for the reading addiction we are discussing today. 

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What are the signs of reading addiction?

Even though the effects of the reading addiction disorder are definitely not as serious as those of other addictions, the condition can have a pretty uncomfortable impact on someone’s life. Reading addicts are generally disconnected from the real world to a worrying extent, they tend to pay very little or no attention to themselves, and have serious trouble maintaining healthy relationships with others.

The problem with reading addiction when compared to other forms of addiction is that its onset is generally very slow and not too obvious. It’s a condition that slowly creeps its way into your life if you don’t pay attention to the reading addiction symptoms as they start setting in. It’s a cunning condition that requires quite a lot of self-awareness to prevent and overcome. 

Here are the most common signs that you could be on your way to becoming a reading addict. 

You lose track of time while reading

Don’t get me wrong, we all do that from time to time. There’s not a single Basmo team member who hasn’t come to the office at least once completely exhausted after having spent most of the night reading. Some books simply can’t be put down, they are too interesting. While the occasional mishap is perfectly understandable, if it becomes a norm, perhaps it’s time to have a closer look at your reading habits and evaluate how healthy they are. 

If you constantly miss out on sleep because you started reading and completely lost track of time, this could be a sign of the onset of reading addiction. The rule of thumb when it comes to addictions that don’t involve the consumption of addictive substances (reading, gaming, gambling) is to pay close attention to how these habits are affecting your life. If reading becomes responsible for you being too tired to perform well in school or at your job, if it affects your personal relationships, or if you can’t seem to find joy in any other activity, that is definitely a warning sign. 

You cancel plans to keep reading

Despite being an incredibly beneficial and rewarding activity, reading should not become a reason for you to stop doing anything else. Reading should be a hobby that comes as an addition to your life, not one that replaces anything else that brings you joy. 

It happened to most of us to not be in the right mood for going out with friends and prefer to stay home and read a good book. But again, if canceling the plans you make with friends and family to stay home and read instead becomes a habit, this can turn out to be problematic. 

Interacting with people, having a social life, and enjoying spending time with your loved ones cannot be replaced by books. Yes, books can be a great way of escaping reality, but when you start preferring the alternate worlds you read about to the actual reality surrounding you, things are likely to have turned south for you and your reading habits will need some serious adjustments. 

You spend most of your money on books

To put things in perspective, the first question a gambler needs to answer to find out if he has crossed the line between casual gambling and compulsive gambling is “have you ever borrowed money to spend in the casino, or have you ever had any money issues caused by gambling?” 

While gambling addiction and reading addiction are clearly very different, one thing they have in common is that they can be rather costly. If you ever notice that your monthly budget takes a massive hit every time you decide to spend something on books or if you reach the point where you buy so many books that you are not left with enough money to live decently until your next paycheck, this is a clear sign of bibliomania. 

You postpone tasks because of your reading habits

Some say that the only people who never procrastinate are psychopaths. While I can’t confirm or deny that information with any scientific proof, the undeniable truth is that we all postpone things from time to time. Whether it’s a load of laundry we can’t seem to find the motivation to fold and put away or simply cleaning the house, it happens to the best of us to simply “do it tomorrow”. Procrastination is normal to a certain extent.

If you get into the habit of postponing tasks or house chores because of your reading habits to the point where you realize it’s becoming a problem, this can be a sign of reading addiction. There’s a simple way to know if your living situation is becoming problematic. Ask yourself – Would I be ashamed if my best friend saw my house right now? If the answer is yes, you should definitely start doing something about it. 

You can’t enjoy movies that are based on books due to the inaccuracies

Every book lover out there will always claim that any movie based on a book is a poor man’s version of the story. Books are always seen as the superior choice to tell the story compared to movies. But even though they are aware of the inaccuracies and they know that the movie is going to be less entertaining than the book, most regular readers will still enjoy seeing a story they loved as a movie

A reading addict won’t be able to sit through the whole thing and will be so annoyed by the inaccuracies that they will absolutely despise the movie. If you are one of those people who get mad about the way their favorite books are turned into movies and you just can’t watch them, it’s possible that it’s actually your reading addiction making you feel this way. 

You can’t seem to lend a book to a friend

Another very common way to notice that you are struggling with some sort of reading addiction or book addiction is whether you can bring yourself to lend your favorite book to a friend. We all know that lending and borrowing books is a pretty common practice amongst readers. Well, reading addicts have such a strong connection with their books that they can’t seem to let them out of their sight.

If one of your friends asks if they can borrow one of your books and you feel a certain level of discomfort when you think about lending them a book, this can mean that you have a form of book addiction and it’s probably time to take some measures.

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How Do People Get Addicted To Reading Books?

There are two completely different ways to answer this question and it all starts with the type of book addiction we are referring to. So, finding out how to be addicted to books will be a different process from one person to another to a certain extent. 

If we are talking about bibliomania, the addiction to purchasing and collecting books, then the explanation comes from an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Can you be addicted to buying books? Clearly yes. As a general rule, people with an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder can become addicted to absolutely anything that brings them joy. Whether it’s caused by childhood issues or other factors, the onset of certain addictions can happen at any age and they all start from a need to feel a certain level of happiness to compensate for a deeper issue.

When it comes to the addiction to the reading activity, the problem generally starts from a desire to escape reality. Reading addicts (also known as lit junkies) will pay no attention to the quality of the literature they read and will be happy as long as their eyes and minds are buried in a book. They will favor quantity over quality simply because they will use books as a barrier between them and the real world. Their desire to avoid facing reality will always push them to read more and more, regardless of the genre or quality of the reading material in front of them. 

How to get rid of reading addiction?

Well, the first thing to do if you want to learn how to stop reading addiction is to become aware that you have a problem. Accepting that, being mindful of your issue, and realizing that it’s not your fault are going to help tremendously in the process of losing the addiction. 

The next thing to do is do a little introspection and figure out how severe your problem is. If you think you caught the problem early, you will have great odds of fixing it yourself. If you feel like you completely lost control of your reading habits, you will probably need some therapy. The therapy is not going to necessarily be totally dedicated to your addiction, but rather to the underlying issues that led you to get addicted in the first place. Fixing the underlying issue is going to be the most effective way to get rid of any addiction. 

Is there a reading addiction treatment out there?

No, there is no such thing as an actual treatment for reading addiction. You won’t find any dedicated medication for battling this addiction. Getting rid of your reading addiction is going to be a process you will be in complete control of. 

Regardless of whether you will go through this process alone or guided by a therapist, here are some of the things you are likely going to have to do to regain control of your reading habits.

Limit the time you spend reading

The most important thing to do when trying to lose your reading addiction is going to be to gradually decrease the amount of time you spend reading. The best way to do this is to start using a reading app like Basmo.

Basmo helps track a lot of interesting metrics about your reading, including your speed and the time you spend reading every day. Use it to find out how much reading you normally do in a day and slowly start decreasing the length of your reading sessions.

You can also set a daily goal for the number of minutes of reading you do, so you can also use that feature to keep your reading under control.

Create reading lists and don’t buy any new books until you finish reading the ones you already own

The frequency of your book purchases can say a lot about your reading addiction. A good idea would be to digitalize your book collection with Basmo, which allows you to create as many personalized reading lists as you want.

Create your TBR list, and refrain from buying new books until you finish the ones you already have. 

Create a reading schedule

Getting rid of any addiction requires a very strong mindset and adding a certain structure to your life. Fixing your reading addiction is no different. If you want to lose your obsessive habits and replace them with healthy ones, you should create a reading schedule

Basmo can help with that, as the app comes with a very useful scheduling feature that will allow you to select the days and times of each of your reading sessions and will even remind you of the upcoming ones with notifications.

Keep a reading journal 

Staying in touch with your emotions during this process is going to be extremely important. That is why keeping a reading journal will be incredibly useful. 

Use the journaling feature from Basmo to jot down your thoughts and feelings as you go through the “reading rehab”. Write about your progress, and keep track of the way you react to everything you are going to.

Basmo also offers you the opportunity to track your emotions while reading. After each session tracked with Basmo, you will be asked to select an emoticon that represents your state of mind. The information will then be used to automatically create a weekly report of your feelings. Yes, we really thought of everything. 


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Final thoughts

One thing to remember about reading addiction is that even though it may not be as serious as other addictions, it is still worth paying attention to its initial signs. It does have the potential to disrupt your life to a certain extent and you should always use Basmo to keep track of your reading habits to ensure that you do everything as you should.

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