I posted this on my blog but I figured we might as well have a discussion here as well.

 

AM I SUFFERING FROM READER'S GUILT?

 

Even now, as an adult and having completed a literature degree, I feel guilty when I read.

It may be leftover guilt because I was raised Catholic, and apparently we feel guilty about everything, but I’m pretty sure it stems from something deeper.

 

When I was a child, I wasn’t allowed to read during the daytime.

 

Why not? You may ask. What kind of parent doesn’t let their child read during the day?

My mother is a ‘keeping up appearances’ kind of woman. She always wanted her house to look like a magazine, but never wanted to put the effort in herself.

(Which she achieved when her adult children left home. Not only did they leave home, but they moved overseas to get away from her. Now the house she lives in is cold and unwelcoming, and not like a ‘home’ at all, but more like a temporary living situation.)

If my mother caught me reading during the day she’d assign me an endless list of chores.

Which I’m not complaining about because gee, I know just how hard it is to maintain a house to look like a flawless magazine, but there’s a reason my brother nicknamed me ‘Cinderella’.

That’s why whenever I heard her stomping down the house towards my bedroom, I’d hide the book under my bed and start cleaning my room, pretending I’d been doing that all along. Because if there’s one thing my mother loved more than a clean, tidy, magazine-style house, it was children who cleaned without being asked.

But it was pretty ironic that my mother didn’t want me reading ‘too much’, because she’s a big reader herself.

Even now as a grown up, I need to do housework before I can read or I’ll feel this swirling guilt I attempt to push aside.

 

Can one really read too much?

 

  • When your house needs cleaning.
  • When it’s beautiful weather outside and you should be outside being outside because apparently outside is better for you than inside, despite the fact that I am pale and burn easily and make it my life’s mission to stay out of the sun.
  • When you should be socialising with friends.
  • When your husband wants to watch a film with you.
  • When your cats are demanding attention.

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Basically I think the reason I read so little in comparison to most of my blogging friends – despite having a literature degree, despite being a bookworm, despite buying dozens of books a year – is that I still harbour some kind of guilt that reading is a luxury I need to earn by doing other non-solo things. That despite my immense enjoyment of reading, it’s a time suck. That sometimes, watching the film adaptation takes less commitment because it’ll all be over in two and a half hours.

Oh my god. Did I just blaspheme?

Does anyone else feel guilty when they read?

How can I overcome this reader’s guilt?