Is It Possible To Read Too Much?

That's one week's worth of reading at Oxford University. I took the photo with my webcam so that's why it's backwards.
That’s one week’s worth of reading at Oxford University. I took the photo with my webcam so that’s why it’s backwards.

I have what is most likely a strange problem among Americans today: I think I read too much.

Now, let me clarify a few things. First, I think it’s better to read too much than too little. Second, I know the terms “too much” and “too little” are subjective and vague. However, I’d define anything fewer than fifteen or twenty books per year to be too little. Why? That’s just what I feel I ought to read, minimum. Finally, most people I know err on the side of reading too little, mainly because they watch TV during most of their spare time. It makes a certain kind of sense: after all, the people who make the Game of Thrones show wouldn’t keep making new seasons of it if people weren’t watching.

Today, I finished reading my sixty-fourth book of the year. I know that’s accurate because I signed up for the Goodreads reading challenge. For this challenge, users can set their own goals of how many books to read and the website keeps track of it for you. See, here’s my personal challenge page. I set a goal of fifty books—it’s a nice round number and honestly, I’ve never tracked how many books I read, so I had no idea what to expect. As you can see, the year isn’t even over yet and I’ve already surpassed my goal.

I’m not saying that I’m going to stop reading. That would just be silly. I am thinking of cutting back slightly on my reading, though, so that I’ll have more time to write (I’m working on a novel and I want to start researching that Ukraine book) and do other things I like, such as playing violin and doing crafts. I haven’t played violin in weeks and it’s actually a bit distressing to me!

When I read, I want to focus on reading more Russian-language books. I can’t read as fast in Russian as I can in English, so sometimes I get discouraged and read a ton of English books while slowly getting through a Russian one. I have a ton of Russian books sitting around—I just need to make the effort to read them. And I need to make the effort to finish my crochet projects sometimes, rather than sit down with a book.

Do you have one hobby that tends to consume all your free time? If so, do you want to cut back on it to have time for other things?


13 thoughts on “Is It Possible To Read Too Much?

  1. Reading too much is, in deed, an interesting concept. (I just saw a blog where there goal was 150 books this year. 0.0) Sadly, I’m one of those people of whom you mentioned who reads too little, but I can’t say it’s because I watch TV. Honestly, I don’t know I do in my spare time. Probably pinterest. >.>
    Though, having said that I have taken it upon myself to start reading more, especially given that I want to write. Reading is one of the best things a writer can do… you know… outside of writing. Haha!
    However, I think it can be difficult to appropriately divide up time between all of the activities that we want to do. (Goodness knows I’m not the best at getting all my activities in). Frankly, I think it’s great that you’re spending so much extra time reading. After all, there are far worse things you could spend/waste time on. (like pinterest. :p I just keep coming back to that!)

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  2. There is no such thing as too much reading! I have a hobby that maybe won’t consume all my free time, but consumes way too much money, and that’s traveling. Every month I set myself a target for savings and every month either I barely make it, or I just miss it, and 8 times out of 10 it’s due to travels. But, hey, I think it’s money well spent, right?

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    1. I’m of the firm belief that traveling is so much easier if you’re in Europe. Everything is so much closer together there and it’s amazing. Over here, I can fly in a plane for four hours and still be within the borders of my country!


      1. Definitely, and there are remarkable differences even within the same country. But at least you’re not that far from Mexico or the Caribbean, and soon you’ll be able to go to Cuba (I’m sure you can still find someone to practice Russian with over there!)


      2. Very true. I absolutely adore the American southwest—it’s quite different from the east coast, which is where I’m from. And I can’t deny that there’s a ton of beautiful and unique scenery over in my country.

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  3. What’s currently most of my free time is this TV series that I bought from Taiwan. The DVDs come out once each week, and I order them once a season (usually 32 or so episodes) is over. I’m binge watching them. It’s fine, though, because I just have stuff to watch for two more weeks. And then I will probably wait another year until another season concludes. So it’s totally temporary. I’m not binge watching TV all the time.

    I’m still getting some reading done here and there. Definitely not as much as usual. I don’t keep a count of how many books, but I do have a running list of books sorted under to shop (haven’t decided whether to buy), bought (usually means it’s already on my Kindle), currently reading, and completed. I am usually reading around two to four books at a time. At least one of them would be technical (work related). But since I can’t chew through too much technical content at once (since they are usually dense and harder to digest), I usually have other (more “fun”) books that I am reading at the same time. I will go back and forth. One chapter from this book, one chapter from another. This works because I read way more non-fiction than novels.


    1. Yeah, I have to have a balance of fiction and nonfiction or else I get antsy. I watch foreign TV, too. It’s great. I’m assuming the series you’re watching is native to Taiwan?


      1. Yeah, it’s a Taiwanese puppet show. Of course now it looks very different from when I was a kid, but it was the kind of stuff that got me interested in puppetry (and performing arts in general) in the first place.

        If you are curious, here’s the intro theme to the series I’m currently watching:


  4. Looking at your Goodreads list, Natalie, you make good choices when it comes to reading material 🙂 Also, you’re a writer and “one much be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the rights ones form themselves into the proper patterns at the right moment.” (Hart Crane)

    But I’m going to say there IS a thing as too much reading. For me there are 3 factors that contribute to too much reading: when you use reading as a form of procrastination, when you read low-quality crap all the time, and when you fail to notice life’s little moments (how the food tastes, the expressions of everyone around you on the metro, sunshine breaking through the clouds, etc) because you’re reading non stop. Any good habit can be overdone- healthy eating, exercise, reading, sex, religion, you name it. I say this because I feel like reading is not a positive habit for me anymore.

    My goal this year was to actually read *fewer* books. In 2013 I read 215 books. In 2014, 164. This year, 91 so far. It’s still impossible to separate a book from a meal. I’m having better luck with reading higher-quality books, though, since we live in the US now and have access to the library. Before it was just whatever (and I mean whatever) was on the Kindle free list :p I want make reading a balanced part of life, not an obsession.

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    1. OMG yes. You totally understand where I’m coming from. I am pro-reading, pro-libraries, pro-Kindles, and even pro-junk books every once in a while because a person’s got to relax. But too much of it can totally invade one’s life. I wouldn’t say that reading is totally invading my life… but if I don’t watch out, it could slowly creep in and take away the time for my other hobbies too!

      Are you on Goodreads? Add me if you haven’t already! (This goes for any other commenters as well.)

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