Reading Guilt

February 24, 2016 Discussion 60

reading guilt

Have you ever felt guilty about something you shouldn’t? Like guilty about studying, watching TV, going out, or even reading? I have. Many times. I assume it’s part to do with my anxious nature. But anyway I wanted to have a little discussion post about reading guilt.

The way I see it there are two types of reading guilt, and they are the complete opposites of each other. I have experienced both types in this past year multiple times.

Guilt for reading when you have other responsibilities

I’m sure you’ve all had moments where a book grabs you so completely you forget about the world for hours. At the time it feels great. Those addictive novels usually end up being 4 or 5 star reads for me. I have no guilt for picking up such a good book in the first place.


The guilt begins when I take a break and think about all the things I should have been doing instead or reading. Usually it’s study that I’m neglecting. Sometimes it’s working on the blog itself or socialising with friends. Sometimes I can’t even find a reason I just feel guilty. It’s the most terrible feeling and can really put a damper on the joy you just experienced.

Guilt for not finding time for read

This form of reading guilt is even worse than the first. Every time I have a spare five minutes and I don’t read I feel it. Every time I look at my overflowing TBR I feel it. Every time I think of all the review copies I still haven’t read I feel it. Every time I see a new release I haven’t gotten to yet I feel it.


Guilt over ignoring responsibilities I understand because there’s usually something Very Important associated with it. Not reading guilt is almost irrational. No one is forcing us to read. We are under no obligation to read every book ever under the sun. Only a few are gifted with lightning fast reading speed to even get half way to achieving us.

Sometimes I think bloggers can feel this pressure more than most because we start to think we’re failing our readers and the publishers/authors who send us books to review. I know I certainly struggle with it. But it’s important to remember that they do understand how hard it can be to find time to read, everyone does. We’re not failing anyone by not reading, no matter what our brains receive. Unfortunately that’s easier said than done.

Have you ever experienced reading guilt?

How do you cope with reading guilt?


60 Responses to “Reading Guilt”

  1. Cynthia

    Bec! You’re singing my song! Not only do I experience both types of reading guilt you mention here, but also writing guilt.. Thanks for opening up the discussion on this. Being aware is the first step to recognizing how irrational guilt (in general) is!

    • Bec

      Writing guilt was something I used to feel a lot too! But I haven’t had time to write for so long it’s kind of stopped.

  2. Lucia @Reading Is My Breathing

    Oh yes, sometimes when I lose myself in series and binge read them, I kind of neglect all other responsibilities (like housework) and then I feel very guilty! But it cannot be helped. How am I suppossed to stop reading if book is so good? Usually, I make up for neglecting all my responsibilities as soon as I finish book.
    Lucia @Reading Is My Breathing recently posted…NO MORE WAITING #6: STARBOUND SERIES

    • Bec

      Bingeing feels so good but we feel so guilty after! We definitely shouldn’t have to stop if we’re enjoying a book so much!

  3. Wendy

    Haha I can totally relate to the first one! I guess the only way to deal with it is to get to work after finishing it, because if it was a really good book then yeah, there’s no way I’d be able to put it down either. xD
    I haven’t experienced the second one as much, even with books I was meaning to review I can make myself get over it because you’re right, reading isn’t meant to be an obligation; but sometimes I feel guilty about not reading certain books (e.g. classics) or abandoning books when I lose interest.
    Wendy recently posted…The Power of Education and Peaceful Protest

    • Bec

      Exactly! There have been times when I just gave in and binged the book because that was faster than constantly procrastinating my responsibilities haha.

      I wish I was more like you and didn’t have to feel the second one. It’s so annoying

  4. Mara @ Mara Was Here

    I can definitely relate to both! I’ve already procrastinated tons of times for school homework just so I can read. Sometimes, I’m not guilty of it since I pass my requirements on time anyway. But other times, I do feel like I should get my priorities in order.

    I also experience the guilt of not reading almost every day! I think it’s in my blood. Like, when I wall in the mall and my mom and sister are going around in circles in a clothing shop and I – being one who doesn’t like shopping – have nothing to do, I immediately grab my phone and read. BECAUSE WHY TIME NOT READING?!?
    Mara @ Mara Was Here recently posted…Clockwork Princess: A Great Conclusion To The Series

    • Bec

      Yeppp I’ve procrastinated exam study for some amazing books. Have always passed so far though.

      This is where inventions like google glass would be useful. You can read while still walking around and functioning at boring tasks like shopping. Actually, audiobooks would work for that

  5. Anatea

    OMG yes! Like my guilt is the worst! I usually never have time to read because of my too busy schedule and then I feel guilty for not reading. Then I find some time to read, but I don’t and watch TV instead or something and I feel guilty for not reading. And then finally before I go to bed, I settle to read just a few chapters and it just turns out that the book is amazing, so I have to finish it in one sitting, Then I feel guilty for reading so much and not getting any sleep. It’s like this crazy neverending circle of reading guilt!
    Anatea recently posted…Review ~ Beyond the Red by Ava Jae

    • Bec

      It is ridiculous! Really everyone should get an hour a day to read or something because it is so relaxing and then we wouldn’t have to stress about not having time.

      Sometimes I sit down in bed but am too exhausted from the day to even consider reading. It sucks :(

  6. scar

    I don’t think I’ve experienced the same kind of reading guilt. I have, however, often experienced guilt that I’m reading the wrong things. Sometimes I’ll have a pile of books I need to read for work, but I’ll spend some time reading novels in between, and it makes me feel guilty. Although I’m learning to just go along with it!
    scar recently posted…Interview: Scott Thompson, Author of Eight Days

    • Bec

      Yes I feel this too! There are so many books out there that I have to read for various reasons, but I keep neglecting them to read other ones. You do need to have a balance though. If you only read books you were required to read because of school/work you’d get sick of reading pretty quickly I think.
      Bec recently posted…February 2016 Wrap Up

    • Bec

      Reading is the BEST procrastination. The guilt definitely increases the more time that passes while not reading. Which is ridiculous because we should be able to do what we want, reading or not.

  7. Elizabeth @ Book Yabber

    I definitely deal with all kinds of reading guilt. I have a lot of hobbies outside of reading – knitting, scrapbooking, photography, etc. When I do those things, I’m happy I’m doing them, but in the back of my mind, I’m thinking about the book I should be reading because the blog has to maintain a schedule. It’s stressful.

    I also feel reading guilt about reading adult books. On my blog I review YA and MG, so when I read an adult book for pleasure, I feel guilty because I won’t be reviewing it on the blog and think that I just wasted time reading this while I could have read the YA/MG title, X. So for me, it seems that all my guilt is surrounded by blogging.

    Great discussion post, Bec!
    Elizabeth @ Book Yabber recently posted…Harper Summer 2016 Tour: WHAT THE DEAD WANT by Norah Olson

    • Bec

      Yes I get this! Mostly while watching youtube or tv shows. Blogging definitely increases the guilt.

      I think the way to go with the adult book guilt is to think/use adult novels as break books. If you read YA/MG all the time you’d get sick of it, and you can’t review every book you read for fear of burn out. At least that’s the way I go about it.

      Thanks :)

  8. GracieFM

    I always feel reading guilt, but mine stems from my university course. I’ve studying English Literature and I constantly feel guilty for not reading my university books, I feel like I can’t read my own books because I should be reading my university books, but then I end up not reading anything because I don’t want to read my university books! It’s a vicious cycle that I’m hoping to rectify this year because I miss reading my own books.

    • Bec

      I get that enough with my ARCs, I can’t imagine even more because I’m neglecting required reading! The schedule you need to read uni books in might make it hard to alternate uni book with pleasure book :/

    • Bec

      You can get through it! I struggle with the first a lot, so I try to get over it by using reading as a reward (though that’s easier said than done sometimes haha)

  9. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    TESTIFY^^ As a naturally anxious and easily guilt-ridden individual, I have struggled with both of these. And you’re right: the first version isn’t as terrible because well, we all shrink away from responsibilities sometimes. It’s not the best thing but reading is a escape. If I had kept reading for pleasure in Uni, I would have totally been guilty of avoiding studying to read! The second version is much more unfortunate. Sometimes the bf wants to watch something or go walking or just do something and I feel guilty because that’s time I could be reading. The books, the TBR pile, the ARCs…ALL of it weighs on me. Gah! Your advice at the end there is golden. No one is forcing us to read, we do it because we LOVE it…we should try to remember that more often :)
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday *124*

    • Bec

      Reading is very much an escape, and what an escape it is. Anxiety and blogging have definitely made it worse for me.

      It is something that is hard to remember, but if we could get it into our heads we’d feel a lot better about it.

  10. Anissa @ She Reads Too Much

    Ohhhh my gosh *collapses on sofa dramatically* this post is what I’ve been feeling lately. I’ve been feeling SEVERE lack of reading guilt because I haven’t been able to read as much as I want to, and the books I have read I can’t talk about them because they’re top secret so the struggle is real for me. xD I just need to separate my reading and work time better, I need to get rid of all this lack of reading guilt! Great post as always, Bec! :)
    Anissa @ She Reads Too Much recently posted…Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

    • Bec

      It’s a terrible feeling.

      You’re such a tease, mate, hinting at super secret books haha. You need to hunt down the others who have read them and freak out!

      Thanks :)

    • Bec

      I get this guilt a lot too! To get over it I try and read one ARC/review book then one book I purchased, but when I have little reading time and it takes longer the guilt intensifies.

      Thanks :D

  11. Maya @ Suddenly Inundated

    I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE! *flails* not sure why I am excited over the fact that others are suffering, but thats beside the point…. I experience this ALL THE TIME! It is not fun! Especially in these past few weeks when I have just been extremely lazy and unproductive, especially with reading… Is there such a thing as tv show guilt? Because I have not watched ANY of the new episodes of teen wolf and am feeling the same way *crumples*
    Maya @ Suddenly Inundated recently posted…How To Protect Yourself From The Beast. AKA Tips On Blocking The Feels

    • Bec

      It’s comforting to know your not alone! Especially the horrible guilt feelings.

      Yes I get tv show guilt too! I’ve started so many shows and not finished them yet for various reasons.

  12. Kyra @ Blog of a Bookaholic

    I’ve experienced this too! I’m studying for upcoming exams and a lot of the time I pick up a book and get totally caught up in it and then I feel so bad because I’m not studying. Even though I know it’s silly as we all need to take a break now and then, right?

    I can also definitely relate to the second guilt. A lot of time I spend my free time blogging or commenting on blogs or drawing/playing guitar/doing ballet and I feel bad because I have free time but I don’t always spend time reading., even though reading is my favorite thing ever there are also a lot of other hobbies I enjoy as well.

    Wonderful post!
    Kyra @ Blog of a Bookaholic recently posted…I found a new favorite book in the form of Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

    • Bec

      We definitely need a break while studying! Your brain needs refreshing frequently. The key is to pick a book that you like enough that the idea of it as a study break keeps you motivated, but not so good that you stop studying completely to finish it haha.

      It’s impossible to read every spare minute of the day, but our minds still think we can -_-


  13. ShootingStarsMag

    Great post! I have felt both of these. Probably more of the second, not reading when I feel like I should be reading, especially if it’s a review copy! I don’t feel guilt AS much when I’m reading and it takes away from other things, because I do get these things finished and it’s not like I’m always reading and doing nothing else.
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

    • Bec


      ARC guilt is a whole other post on its own (I should make that a draft before I forget). I feel that more intensely than just the general not reading at all.

  14. Lonna | FLYLēF

    That’s a lot of guilt. Here, let me shoulder some of that with you. :) No, I don’t feel guilty for not getting to my books. More accurately, I feel sadden. But, when I do finally pick up a book, it’s like I’ve stepped into a candy story. One soft butternut chew please…

    • Bec

      So much guilt! It is disappointing, and I get that along with the guilt. It disappears when you’re reading though which is nice!

  15. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    The last thing that you listed is probably the hardest thing that I came into terms with. But I just had a thought today, I mean publishers don’t expect us to read books in 1 day and then have the review up the next day~! Most of the population takes like a couple of months to read a book. So I’m sure they definitely understand!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little Review: In Which Lots of Camel References Are Made

    • Bec

      It is a big struggle! As bloggers we feel a big obligation to read the books immediately which is impossible. They do surely understand!

    • Bec

      Blogging comes with so much pressure and guilt. The obligation to review increases the guilt if we think we’re neglecting the book

    • Bec

      YES! I mean, we aren’t super human. We need a break from things sometimes to refresh ourselves, and most people won’t judge us if we do take a break. But I always feel like I’m letting people down.

  16. molly @ molly's book nook

    OH MY GOD yes! Mostly when I DON’T read. I am so behind on reading this year. According to Goodreads I am 11 books behind on my goal! It’s like “thanks goodreads, for making me feel like a shitty person”. Also, I read and review as I go. So, if I don’t read, there are no reviews for my blog. Which makes it worse. But I try to tell myself it’s not a big deal. I’ll get to the books eventually!
    molly @ molly’s book nook recently posted…Budgeting for your Blog

    • Bec

      11 books behind? The year has only just started! I’m sure you’ll make it up one day when you have free time and BINGE ALL THE BOOKS!

      I read and review the same way. I try and take a break by not reviewing a book every now, but not often. The pressure gets incredibly real when you’re busy with uni and stuff and worrying about not getting enough posts up.

  17. Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight

    Yes! To both of these. I mean, I try to not let myself feel too bad if I read instead of doing other things since I feel that reading IS still a productive thing to do since I’m growing and learning and getting new perspectives and all that. But sometimes it’s hard not to feel a little guilty when you slack off of other things. I think my not-reading guilt is more like… maybe regret though? Like, I don’t really feel guilty since I’m not under any obligation to read, but I regret that I wasted my time doing other unproductive things when I could’ve been reading. I feel the worst about it when the reason I didn’t read was because I was too busy staring at my books unable to decide *what* to read. Like, if I had just chosen something I could’ve been halfway through it already!
    Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight recently posted…Book Review: Mud (Chronicles of the Third Realm War Book 1) by E.J. Wenstrom

    • Bec

      That is a good way to look at reading! I have learnt so much about different times, cultures, and people through reading.

      There is definitely a great deal of regret. Omg choosing what to read can take such a long time! Especially if you’re in a slump and it takes longer, and those slump feelings just amplify the guilt.

  18. irena_bookdustmagic

    Great post.
    I can relate, I do feel guilty when I read so much and think I should do something more productive.
    I also tend to feel guilty if I don’t manage to finish a book I have to review on time, and I review it few days later.
    I feel kind of embarrassing when sending my links to publishers if I didn’t review the book on the day I said I would.
    I know I shouldn’t feel that way, after all, we are doing the favour to them when reviewing, but somehow I can’t help it…
    irena_bookdustmagic recently posted…Bullet Short Stoy Review: The Summer I Met You by Victoria Walters

    • Bec


      I get that too, even if the only reason I haven’t written the review yet is because I don’t have the time. Usually to combat this I try and review ASAP after I finish. Usually late at night haha.

      I don’t normally select an actual date for a review unless it’s part of a book tour or something. Though I do feel super guilty if it’s an ARC I don’t get the chance to read and review it close to the release date.

      It’s a really hard thought pattern to get out of.

    • Bec

      Oh dear, such pressure! I hope you had luck finishing it/ figured out what to do with the review.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post

  19. peach @ rebelle reads

    1. y’all changed your blog. I was like, WHOA. omg I love it. that was some beyonce level secrecy. I love it, did I say that already? because I do. <3

    but reading guilt. OF COURSE. My TBR has started making me nervous every time I look at it, it has like 252 books and I have about $3, so yeah. I try to avoid looking at the number and admire the covers, instead. haha. This is so obviously true, though. Should I read this copy now? Should I have posted this review sooner? Later? All too relatable!
    peach @ rebelle reads recently posted…Review: Passenger

    • Bec

      We did! haha. Alise designed it all once again. It’s gorgeous.

      So many books! My TBR isn’t quite that big but I get guilt every time I look at it. Especially with review copies.
      Bec recently posted…February 2016 Wrap Up

  20. Wattle

    Oh yes, often. I’m neglecting a couple of NetGalley books at the moment, because I’m re-reading something instead (well, to be honest my reading has kind of stalled…I think I’ve hit a bit of a slump), and I’m feeling bad about it. But feeling bad doesn’t make me want to read them!

    I’ll probably start feeling guilty about reading when I should be studying soon, since uni has just started again. Ugh.
    Wattle recently posted…It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? #3

    • Bec

      I have NG books I haven’t read in like three years… I need to get on those and stop procrastinating haha.

      Slumps make the guilt feel even worse I swear! I’m already back at uni but haven’t felt that guilt yet (because I haven’t had time to even think about reading really)

  21. Olivia

    I don’t usually get guilt for not reading because I am pretty good at making reading time. Maybe a bit of guilt for not reading more of my physical books which is something I am working on changing this year xD But I do feel guilt sometimes when I spend a day reading and I have other stuff I should really be doing. Then again, I also remind myself that time to time, everyone deserves a lazy day and a break.
    Olivia recently posted…A Study in Charlotte (Review)

    • Bec

      Teach me your ways!

      I have the opposite guilt. I read more of my physical books than eARCs.

      Breaks are absolutely necessary for maintaining sanity.

  22. Annika

    Oh my gosh, yes! I used to feel so guilty all the time for saying no to dinner invites and other things in favour of staying home to read, but I’ve been trying really hard to learn to do what I enjoy and not what people expect me to enjoy, if that makes sense haha

    But I definitely feel guilt when I buy new books or request new ARCs and then look at all the books I haven’t read yet..! This is such a lovely post, Bec!
    Annika recently posted…A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

    • Bec

      It makes perfect sense! Why force yourself to do something you don’t want to do? I mean sometimes you have to go out for important things, but why go out more than you have to?

      I get that guilt a lot! It’s why I’m on a requesting and buying ban for the foreseeable future

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge