Can Reading too Much be as Bad as Not Reading at All?
A while back I began my rather lengthy and unplanned sabbatical, from blogging. Well to be honest from writing and reading. Originally I thought just needed a small mental break, after all, I had just broken my mind, or at least cracked it slightly. In addition to work, family, blogging and everything else that I had going on I had been trying to keep four different books straight in my mind. It was too much for my simple human mind to handle. So I started a self-imposed hiatus from anything to do with reading or writing, and as soon as I stopped, I got better. Then the pressures of the real world fell upon me and did so in mass. But the topic that flew into my mind at the beginning of my hiatus has stuck with me all the way through it, and so I wanted to raise the topic that I had been chewing while I was taking a break, is reading too much as bad as not reading at all?
Some might think my question a poor one at best or ridiculous at worst. But when you stop and think about it, its value becomes apparent. Let me draw an analogy that might connect the dots a little more clearly. Most people would agree that lifting weights that target the same muscles day after day is not a good idea, or more accurately harmful to you. You need to let the muscles recover from their exertion, well tearing might be more accurate but that does not entirely matter. All that matters is the need for recovery. If you do not give your body the time, it needs to recover all you will accomplish is damaging your body instead of improving upon it.
Now as my cracked mind began its recovery, I began to examine all the various ways someone could ingest a story. Out of all of them, reading or even listening to a novel present the greatest challenge, not to mention effort, for your mind. These actions are essentially equivalent to the weightlifting analogy above, minus the actual tearing itself apart. When you consume a novel you are presented with a collection of words, now by themselves, those words have little meaning. It is not until a mind interprets those words that the scene takes on meaning. Once your imagination has begun this process, your mind keeps working and does not stop, well not until you stop taking in words from the page; this is by no measure a simple thing to do. And just like your body, your mind needs time to rest after heavy exertion, or you’ll start to crack it.
Now there are other ways to consume a story that put less strain on your mind, for example, a television show or a play. Even comic books present their readers with ways to consume stories without forcing your imagination to do any heavy lifting. With these stories everything is given to you, well almost everything is given to you. Granted plays and comic books do not have the depth of scenery that a television show can offer, but they give you enough. You are allowed instead to focus on the story itself. And these kinds of stories are the equivalent to healthy rest between workouts, and they are required to keep a mind healthy. So go ahead every once in a while and put the book away and instead get comfy on your couch and watch an episode or two of your favorite show or a good movie and give your mind a break.