A great essay over at Book Riot has been making the blogosphere rounds, which asks this question: is it possible to read too much? The author, Kim Ukura, explains that she often seems to reach a point in her reading year where she simply can’t take in any more. No matter what content presents itself and how readily available it is, she can’t sustain her reading interest. “My (working, ridiculous) theory is that it must be some type of biological safety valve that keeps me from taxing my brain too much, forcing me to put books aside in favor of lesser forms of entertainment like old episodes of New Girl until my neurons have recovered enough to start reading again,” she says.
The essay came at a timely moment for me, as I had been discussing this very issue not long ago with the Beloved’s father, who is an avid reader. When I see him, it’s one of our easy conversation topics: what have you been reading lately? Last time I asked him, he told me ‘not much’ and said that every year at around this time, he gets tired of reading and all the books start looking the same. He takes a break for a few weeks, then something interesting will come his way and he’ll start reading again.
I don’t think this has happened to me with books (I read prodigiously, but even I can’t match Ukura’s 10 per month) but I do see it with other things. I spent the summer watching several seasons of a certain TV show on Netflix during my daily workout, then all of a sudden stopped—not just on that one show, but on everything in my Netflix queue! And I definitely need writing breaks from time to time. I often come back from a long weekend or holiday refreshed and ready for more!
I think that in the ‘old days,’ the media world naturally paced itself. You’d only get the one newspaper a day or the one television episode a week. Now that the entire series run of hundreds of TV shows, or the complete publishing catalogue of hundreds of authors is available, on demand, with the tap of a button, that imposed regulation is gone. As a consequence, people are needing to learn to regulate themselves…
What do you think? Does this theory have merit?