table of contents
December 1999
Are You a Literature Abuser?
by Michael McGrorty


Once a relatively rare disorder, Literature Abuse (or “readaholism”) has risen to crisis levels due to the accessibility of higher education and increased college enrollment since the end of the Second World War. The number of literature abusers is currently at record levels.

Excessive reading during pregnancy is the major cause of prenatal LA among the children of heavy readers. Known as Fetal Fiction Syndrome, it leaves its tiny victims prone to a lifetime of nearsightedness, daydreaming and emotional instability.

Most abusers have at least one parent who abused literature, often beginning at an early age and progressing into adulthood. Siblings of abusers are also likely to become literature abusers. Spouses of an abuser may themselves become problem readers.

Other predisposing factors: parents who are English teachers, professors, or heavy fiction readers; parents who do not encourage children to play games, participate in healthy sports, or watch television.

Abusers become withdrawn and uninterested in society or normal relationships. They fantasize, daydreaming about “castles in the air,” while neglecting work, friends and family. In severe cases “problem readers” develop bad posture from reading in awkward positions, or from carrying heavy book bags.

How many of these apply to you?

  1. I have read fiction when I was depressed, or to cheer myself up.
  2. I have gone on reading “binges.”
  3. I read rapidly, often “gulping” chapters.
  4. I sometimes read early in the morning, or before work.
  5. Sometimes I avoid friends or family obligations in order to read
  6. novels.
  7. I often read alone.
  8. I have pretended to watch television while secretly reading.
  9. I keep books or magazines in the bathroom for a “quick nip.”
  10. I have denied or “laughed off” criticism of my reading habit.
  11. Heavy reading has caused conflicts with my family or spouse.
  12. I am unable to enjoy myself with others unless there is a book
  13. nearby.
  14. I seldom leave my house without a book or magazine.
  15. When travelling, I pack a large bag full of books.
  16. At a party, I will often slip off unnoticed to read.
  17. Reading has made me seek haunts and companions which I would
  18. otherwise avoid.
  19. I have neglected personal hygiene or household chores until I
  20. finished a novel.
  21. I become nervous, disoriented or fearful when I must spend
  22. more than 15 minutes without reading matter.
  23. I have spent money meant for necessities on books instead.
  24. I have sold books to support my reading “habit.”
  25. I have daydreamed about becoming a rich & famous writer, or “word-
  26. pusher.”
  27. I have attempted to check out more library books than is permitted.
  28. Most of my friends are heavy fiction readers.
  29. I have sometimes woken groggy or “hung-over” after a night of
  30. heavy reading.
  31. I have wept, become angry or irrational because of something I read.
  32. I have sometimes wished I did not read so much.
  33. Sometimes I think my fiction reading is out of control.

If you answered ‘yes’ to five or more of these questions, you may be a literature abuser. Affirmative responses to ten or more indicates a serious reading problem –seek help now!. Fifteen or more ‘yes’ responses indicates a severe or chronic “readaholic” personality; intervention is seldom effective at this stage.

WARNING: “Reading Addiction” has been classified as “behavior with a significant voluntary component,” as defined in the Beatty-Eisner Amendment. If you are declared a “known literature abuser,” you will become INELIGIBLE for SSA disability payments and/or ADA protections. Your fate is likely to be a life of poverty and despair, drifting from one dead-end job to another, as you wallow shamelessly in the causes of your addiction.

This page was last updated December 1, 1999.
Copyright © 1999 by Michael McGrorty

table of contents
December 1999