Monday, 16 September 2013

Is it possible to read too much?

“You get a little moody sometimes but I think that's because you like to read. People that like to read are always a little fucked up.” - Pat Conroy.

This quote describes me so perfectly it's actually a little depressing. It might be the completely-out-of-proportion, never-going-to-come-true expectations that pretty much everyone who reads have at some point in their lives, particularly when it comes to romance. Or maybe it's the many weird and wonderful characters who, when you read a book, can become almost like friends. But most likely for me anyway, I think it's probably the amount I get confused between what is real life and what is fiction that makes me "a little fucked up". I mean, it took me nigh on a year to convince myself that, no, Jean Valjean never existed, and will never exist. (*sob*)
I also find that I can get so completely lost in the world of a book that the lives of the characters in whichever book I might be reading start to become more important than my own. And I know I'm not alone in this, mainly because Carrie Fletcher (YouTuber and the West End's current Eponine) frequently says she has the same problem. And maybe it really is a problem. 
For example, last year, when I was supposed to be revising for exams, I decided to pick up A Tale of Two Cities, just to read a few chapters - BIG mistake. 400 pages and many, many tears later, I had no idea what to do with myself. That book destroyed my mind. I was inconsolable for LITERALLY weeks, and it's seriously not good to keep having your mind drift to complex characters like Sydney Carton when you're supposed to be writing about Plato, or the Crusades, or whatever exam that was, I can't even remember.
But then, reading is clearly a good thing to do: it develops the imagination; reading other people's writing is supposed to improve your own; and reading offers the escape from reality that everyone needs at some point in their lives. So maybe the question that really needs to be asked is this: can you become too emotionally involved in the books you read? ... and the answer to that, as much as I want to say otherwise, is probably, yes.

“Isn't it odd how much fatter a book gets when you've read it several times?...As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells...and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower...both strange and familiar.” - Cornelia Funke

And then you read quotes like that; writing that is so beautiful, and so true, it makes me want to sob for a reason I'm not quite sure of. And so, maybe, yes, you can get too emotionally involved in books - and I'm sure my friends have told me too many times that nobody else cares about the book I'm reading, and I should let it go just a tad. But I don't want to. And maybe it's okay to take your chances, and read books to learn as much as you can, both about writing, and about humanity. Maybe one day I'll realise that it's better to simply live my own life, but I don't really see why I can't do both; why shouldn't I let 'The Book Thief' make me cry, or 'Crime and Punishment' make me want to throw it across the room?? And the great thing about books is that they can show you how you grow - while I HATED 'Anna Karenina' when I first read it two years ago, when I've grown up a bit maybe I'll have a different opinion. Just like a few years ago, I'm ashamed to admit it but I liked 'Twilight', and now I pretty well loathe it. 

Books will always have an important place in society and I can't really imagine life without them. And maybe I'll find out in a few years that I did become too involved in the books I read, but for now I'm going to continue to let books be a big part of my life, and be glad that I have something to be enthusiastic and fangirl about when I see people everyday who don't have anything to get excited about. And, right now, I'm going to go make some tea and carry on reading 'The Mill on the Floss'. 

Happy Monday! :)


  1. I love getting lost in a book and spending time with favorite characters...especially when my real life in my real day has been particularly bad. Books help smooth out the edges and corners of life. I'm like you, I read too much, too. And I'm okay with that. Hope you enjoy Mill on the's one of my favorites. Happy Reading!

    1. Oh good, I'm so glad it's not just me! :) also I'm happy to hear The Mill on the Floss is good, I haven't really had much of a chance to get into it yet but I've heard lots of good things so here's hoping I like it, thanks for commenting! :)