How Reading Ruined My Life

It’s true. Reading has ruined my life.

I caused great physical discomfort to my family when I locked myself in the (only) bathroom in the house with a book, emerging only when one of them hammered at the door and told me to get out of there.

I have suffered financially from vast amounts spent on library fines, at bookstores, and at bookstore cafes.

I have wasted valuable time missing stops on public transport because I’ve been reading.

I have caused myself embarrassment by laughing aloud in public, or, worse, weeping.

Injuries have been sustained by family members tripping over books left on the floor.

Doing taxes, cleaning the house, emptying the cat’s litter box, doing good works, etc. have all taken a second place to reading.

My physical beauty is ravaged by paper cuts and the tragic effects of falling asleep with a book in my hand/or in some bizarre position best suited to reading rather than sleeping.

I would rather read in the bathtub than clean it.

How has reading ruined your life? And what is currently your ruination of choice?

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Jane Austen
13 years ago

I would rather make friends with a book than a person because books can’t talk about you behind your back.

Men have been ruined for me because how can anyone live up to the standards set by Captain Wentworth or Daniel Sullivan?

I have become a recluse and have decided all I need is a book and a place to read it.

I am falling behind on my job because I sit and read instead of work. Now I do this ingeniously by cutting a piece of paper to match the screen of my Kindle and make it look like I am working with notes on a piece of paper.

I constantly live paycheck to paycheck because I buy books I can’t always afford.

But I really can’t be sorry for any of this. I’m quite happy with my bookish life. I learn from books. They teach me about life, love and friendship.

Right now I’m on a Sophie Kinsella kick. Chick lit, but very smart chick lit and how can you not love a flawed heroine? We all have flaws.

Great post, Janet.

13 years ago

Janet, I am howling!! I’m not sure if it’s because a few of those things are new to me or because they are mostly so familiar!

I’ve spent copious amounts of money on books. However, I consider it weight prevention: You can have that bag of cookies for $5 or you can buy a book. But then, to get free shipping, you have to buy $25 worth, so that $5 is suddenly $25. I would NEVER buy $25 worth of cookies all at once. But, it’s a book!

On the other hand, specialists everywhere say “Don’t do anything while you’re eating, except eat.” It’s a natural time to read. Maybe that’s why I haven’t lost any weight despite not buying cookies.

All the television I’ve missed, even with it on, because my nose is buried in a book. My cousin worries about me because I don’t go to the movies often or watch much TV. Instead, I am reading “trashy novels” (her words not mine). My trashy novels that make me laugh out loud and cry and warm me and touch me, and I can skip the gory parts.

When the movies came out, my dad wondered how I could possible love Lord of the Rings so much. It was so violent. “But Dad, they’re orcs. They are truly evil and irredeemable. And I’m not going to come home and see them being killed on the 6 o’clock news.” Because of LOTR, I joined a message board and met a lot of really great people, many of whom I’ve met in person. I learned that you can’t type anything and hit “post.” You have to think. I started writing longer pieces and finally some fan fiction. Then one of the friends I’d made wrote a story and shared it with me. I offered to edit. She asked me to do some of the writing myself. The next thing I knew, I was doing most of the writing and finally all of it. The same friend introduced me to some of her favorite romance writers (yep, Diane was one). Then someone who read my writing contacted me and said, “Why don’t you try writing an inspirational romance for Harlequin’s new line?” “I can’t… well, I suppose I can try.” It was rejected, but by then I’d become a member of RWA and the local chapter, Desert Rose. I know the “voices” in my head clamoring for attention are normal, for writers. ๐Ÿ™‚ And I’ve never been happier. All because of books.

13 years ago

All of the above. Plus:

I have nowhere to hang pictures because of the six bookcases against the walls.

I miss buses because I nip into the bookshop for five minutes to get one book and it takes me twenty minutes to whittle my choices down to five.

(Currently reading through a mountain of Terry Pratchett books before I return to the waiting Barbara Pym, PD James and a small stack of romance.)

13 years ago

Well, most people would think that reading so much as I kid that I “ruined” my eyes would be a problem. The good news for those of us who are nearsighted from too much reading then is that we can read NOW by just taking our glasses off!

How about:

Electric bills from lights burning in the wee hours?

Dinners forgotten and burned?

Permanent press clothes that need to be ironed from remaining in the dryer for hours?

Too tired to think of anything witty. I wouldn’t trade my time with my books for anything.

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

I quit reading for several years when my kids were little, because I knew they wouldn’t get fed and would be emotionally neglected. I consoled myself by reading all those wonderful children’s books.

Oddly, my son’s favorite was one called “Truck.” It had no words at all. As he got older he loved “How Things Work” – he hated lots of the silly fiction for young boys.

Janet Mullany
13 years ago

books can’t talk about you behind your back. So true, although they can fall on your feet from the overstuffed bookshelf or trip you up from the floor. One does assume this is done with no malice on the book’s part.

Judy, I love the cookie argument. I’m not sure it would stand up anywhere except on a readers’/writers’ blog. The odd thing tho is that if I order from bookdepository.com, which offers free shipping, that I still think in terms of not ordering only one book. My justification is that I’m putting those poor people in the warehouse to all that work for one book–seems silly.
Caty, I’m a big Terry Pratchett fan. Since my daughter moved out I really miss having the motherlode of Pratchett books to hand and there are several I want to read again.
LadyDoc, energy saving lightbulbs are your best friend.
Diane, I loved reading kids’ books too but I also read a lot of short stories when my daughter was little.

13 years ago

Hi ๐Ÿ™‚
Thank you for that fun post.
I laughed because it was all true!
All the best,

Joanna Waugh
13 years ago

Reading COULD ruin my life — if there ever was an earthquake in NW Indiana. The walls of my “office” (i.e. spare bedroom) are lined with shelves, ever one of which is groaning under the weight of, you guessed it, BOOKS! As a safety precaution, I switched from hardbacks to paperbacks a few years back. A softer landing on my head in case of that aforementioned earthquake. :))

Wonderful article, Janet.

Louisa Cornell
13 years ago

I’m late reading this, but thanks, Janet, for making me feel so much better about my life! Everything on your list is something I have done because of the monumental role books play in my life. And speaking of monuments, my entire house is a monument to the written word. There are bookshelves in every room in the house including both bathrooms! There are bookshelves down the hall! My brothers are taking bets on when the floors are finally going to give way under the weight. Oh and lets not forget the personal injuries my brothers and two nephews suffered moving all of my books into this house. The only way I got away with it was by telling them this was my FINAL move until they put me to bed with a shovel.

I had to laugh because I went through the checkout yesterday with my week’s groceries and other necessities. (I work and shop at Wal-Mart. I just recycle my money there.) I was stunned when the total came up to over 100 dollars! Then I realized 45 dollars of that was BOOKS!! Well, I DID say necessities!

13 years ago

Oh, sure I’m ruined. But if it weren’t books it would be something far worse. Like bowling or something.

I enjoy my tattered reputation.

Pam Rosenthal
13 years ago

When our son was about a year and a half or two, he wandered into our room one morning to find us still in bed cuddling. Which made him jealous and then… well, you know that wonderful Neanderthal-thinking-hard look a tiny kid gets…? he strode on his little legs over to the bookshelf, picked up 2 books, strode back, and shoved them to us. As though to say, ok here’s something better than sex.

So perhaps not only have I ruined my life but his as well.

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