3 Reasons Why You Should Stop Reading

In our media-saturated society, we’ve become accustomed to non-stop consumption. We turn to our phones for constant contact with the outside world, from the news to social media to our favorite blogs to the never-ending flow of emails. Our minds are constantly chewing on new information. So much so that we hardly break long enough to form our own thoughts or opinions anymore. We’re connected to the screen but not ourselves. We know more about the neighbors next door than we do about our true nature. But there’s a challenging yet transformative practice that can alleviate the symptoms of our fixation: reading deprivation.

Julia Cameron first spoke about reading deprivation in her book, “The Artist’s Way.” She says that “words are like tiny tranquilizers” and also likens our desire and consumption of written material to consuming greasy food that clogs our system. But when you clear the pipes you’re able to fill the well. She acknowledges that…

“It is a paradox that by emptying our lives of distractions we are actually filling the well. Without distractions, we are once again thrust into the sensory world… With no novel to sink into (and no television to numb us out) an evening becomes a vast savannah in which furniture – and other assumptions – get rearranged.”

In short, reading deprivation is a week of no reading. No books, blogs, articles, social media or email. You can take it to the extreme by not reading text messages, work reports or school materials, or you can start with the simple stuff like mindless web surfing. It’s challenging no matter who you are and whether you consider yourself a “reader” or not. You’ll soon discover three major benefits to depriving yourself of the written word for one short week.

3 Benefits of Reading Deprivation

1. Thought Development

When you’re immersed in media you soak up all the thoughts and opinions of other people, businesses and governments. It’s hard to know where your thoughts end and another’s begins. And who knows if the other’s thoughts are truly their own anyways. When you stop reading you can take a deep breath in and welcome your own thoughts and opinions. At first, you may find a stream of words that sound similar to the last article you read. But as the week goes on you’ll begin to work through your own problems and think for yourself. You may find a unique perspective never before seen in the media. And who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to write them down and share them with someone else to absorb and make their own.

2. Self-Reflection

As you develop your own thoughts, you’ll naturally be required to turn the lens inward to do so. So thought development necessitates self-reflection. Instead of bouncing ideas or opinions off the external world you now only have yourself. When you have a question, unless you ask somebody in person, you’ll be required to first ask yourself. And since your time isn’t consumed by mindless word surfing you’ll find you have the time to investigate these questions. You can do so in your own mind or by journaling.

3. Hobbies Exploration

Reading deprivation gives you more time for self-reflection and hobbies. If time was ever an excuse, then it will no longer be so. You’ll be amazed to find pockets of time that was otherwise spent browsing Facebook, opening emails or scrolling through the news. And since you’re not reading, you have the opportunity to fill that time with true rest, completion of tasks around the home or office or an exploration of hobbies. If you don’t have a hobby, then it’s a perfect opportunity to start one!

Reading deprivation sounds far scarier and intimidating than it actually is. It has its challenges but its rewards are worth the effort. Reading has its place in our lives. But in this day and age, we are too often out of balance and out of touch with ourselves. Go on a reading hiatus this week and experience the benefits yourself!

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Marie W
Marie W11 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

Melania P
Melania Padillaabout a year ago

Well, be specific, "stop reading the news". I first thought you meant books...

Danuta W
Danuta Wabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing

Teresa W
Teresa Wabout a year ago

Sending a Green Star is a simple way to say "Thank you"

You cannot currently send a star to Katie because you have done so within the last day.

Teresa W
Teresa Wabout a year ago

Switch off your brain, watch TV all the time! Phew. Reading offers a lot of benefits. What do you mean by 'thinking more'? Total boredom and picking your nose, for example, on the bus, instead of spending that time reading.
Total rubbish.

Teresa A
Teresa Antelaabout a year ago

We should stop reading when we choose "shit" to read but even then, when we already read a lot and have that education and feeling of what is wrong, we can still have the chance to learn something among the "shit". Don't forget that there are flowers blooming in the swamps... Don't blame literature or reading for bad actions taken by some people, these bad actions should only be judged because people perpetraging such bad actions have a bad nature and it isn't reading or literature that make them bad. This is what I think and followed all my life: not do anything to others which I would not like for myself (of course mental ill persons are a case apart.

heather g
heather gabout a year ago

I'm on a self-imposed reading break this week. When I returned "Cutting for Stone" to the library, I did so wondering how I would track down another well-written and totally engrossing book. What would match the quality of that novel?

Gail M.
Gail M.about a year ago

Let's have a week without the "News".

Gail M.
Gail M.about a year ago

This is more about social media than reading. It would be great if more people were actually reading books. What about listening...going to open mic and hearing poets and authors speak. What about time in nature. I read,d write, dance garden and journal....balance.

Peggy B
Peggy Babout a year ago

Good to know.