This might be a surprising question but is there actually a bad side to reading?
Reading books has a couple of negative aspects like
- Decreasing Eyesight
- Bad Posture
- Your quality of life decreases
- Deteriorating Social skills
- Loss of vocabulary
- Thinking independently
As you can see from the summary not all of these items are completely serious but there is some truth in it. Let’s take a look…
Too much reading will damage your eyes – sorry, I need to start with a myth. But, extensive or prolonged reading of fine
print can cause eye strain, still, there is no evidence to suggest that it will damage or wear out your eyes. While I am at it I also checked studies of other reading myths. Reading too much with glasses does not make you more dependant on them. The same goes for reading in direct sunlight. When you are not wearing proper eye protection anything you do in direct sunlight will harm your eyes. Fun fact, actually the font makes a huge difference about how well you can focus on a text. Read my article about the totally unexpected best fonts for studying.
Here is a quick reminder from my article about the best study posture:
So if you are sitting at a table and read a book the same rules apply. For a more relaxed posture to read a novel for example try to do the following things to avoid any kind of pain because we all know that once you are sucked into the fantasy world you will forget everything around you.
- Support your back to avoid back pain
- Support your feet for a more relaxed experience
- Try to bring the book up to meet the level of your eyes, which will help in keeping your back straight.
- Take breaks and walk a couple of minutes
- Relax your eyes by focussing on a distant point
Your quality of life decreases
Books are a great way to escape reality, probably the best way. In contrast to games or TV books encourage you to create your own characters, use your imagination, and create a fantasy world in your mind that’s unique for you. So there is nothing wrong with it as long as you are not confusing the solutions and realities offered in books as a way to manage your real life.
Deteriorating Social skills
Like with everything, doing too much of it has bad consequences. If you are a booktrovert and read one novel after another you might get addicted to a fantasy world.
Let’s take a look at the “definition” of booktrovert:
- A person who prefers the company of fictional characters to real people
- Energy renewed through reading
As you can see people with low self-esteem or social anxieties can use books to live in a world with perfect characters and pleasant environments. Facing the real world with real people and all their flaws may become more and more difficult. Constantly reading about how people could be and how relationships should work can lead to false expectations. Only when dealing with real-life and getting through tough situations yourself make you a better person and increases your understanding of others. So a better way of describing yourself and your relationship to books is calling yourself a bibliophile.
: a lover of books especially for qualities of format, a book collector
This sound much better than the loss of reality right? As I said, don’t take this too serious, real book lovers don’t care how they are seen by others.
Loss of vocabulary
I can best explain this with my current situation. I am a native German but because my wife only speaks English and so I listen, read and watch most of my daily media in English I often find myself having difficulties switching back to German when I meet my family. The same thing can happen if you get used to a vocabulary you would not use in everyday life. Once you have to communicate again with real people you might sound weird or even struggle to remember simple terms and words to express yourself.
Sorry, my weekend is all booked.
Reading encourages the destructive habit of thinking independently. This last point is, of course, meant ironically. Thinking independently and out of the box has always lead to great inventions and change. But this is a reason books were often banned or burned (and in some cultures still are) because they post a danger to those who want to control others.
If you mistake fantasy for reality and use books to avoid facing your problems reading is certainly bad for you. Like with everything else, too much usually hurts. Still, reading a lot and the positive aspects of being a bookworm supersede all negative effects by far. It is not a coincidence that the most successful people in this world are avid readers.