Saturday, 19 May 2012

Reading as morphling.

I have now come out of my four-day Hunger Games marathon, largely unscathed.  I was struck, when reading about morphling, a substance which can "become addictive and ... may lead to side effects that heavily affect the user's appearance" (Hunger Games Wiki), that addictive books can be a little like morphling.

There have been several series of books which have caused me to become uncommunicative, dull-eyed and in a state of anxious adrenalin-driven tension where I can't settle to anything unless I am reading.  When I am reading, I take it in almost hungrily, and often skip as much as I read (leading me to miss a rather crucial death towards the end of Mockingjay, the final book in the trilogy.  When I finish reading, there's a kind of emptiness which can be quite disconcerting.

I am not sure that this kind of addictive reading is a good thing.  A can get like it with a new Jacqueline Wilson book - I see her eyes go glassy and the rest of the world dissolve into nothingness as she voraciously consumes the book until there is no more to consume.  It's similar to an excess of computer games, to my mind, but people tend to look at is as acceptable, because reading is universally understood to be "a good thing".

Is it possible to read too much, to the detriment of the rest of life and relationships?  As a teenager, I quite often opted out of "real life" in order to exist in the world of fiction, where unfortunate things were happening to other people, so that I could ignore the unfortunate things that were happening to me.  As addictions go, it's almost certainly more healthy than most, but I am glad I have completed the books, and that it's only a trilogy, as I cannot afford to let real life grind to a halt quite so spectacularly on a regular basis!

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