When You're Afraid Of Books: Understanding Bibliophobia

20 October 2015
 Categories: , Blog


From birth through old age, books can be influential and life changing for those who read them. Children and adults often use reading as a way to relax and escape the difficulties of life. Being exposed to books is certainly good for academic and personal growth. However, if you suffer from bibliophobia, being exposed to books or being expected to read can cause extreme anxiety and fear. 

What is bibliophobia?

While uncommon, bibliophobia is defined as a fear of books. The condition is extremely distressing for those who suffer with it. If untreated, it can cause problems at school and at work.

There are different subsets of bibliophobia. Some people may only be afraid of certain types of literature. For instance, mythophobia is a fear of legends. Metrophobia is a fear of poetry. Some may only fear fairy tales. Other sufferers may only fear textbooks.

Children who suffer from bibliophobia may do poorly in school or even skip school at times to avoid the stress of reading. They may choose to sit in the back of the room for fear of being called on to read out loud.

Adults with the disorder may feel embarrassed in the workplace. They may accept lower-paying jobs that don't require reading or studying. They may be fearful of furthering their education.

Bibliophobia can also affect an adult's social life and personal relationships. A task as simple as reading a menu in a restaurant may be a daunting task for someone who suffers from a fear of reading or books.

The condition can be so distressing that it causes a person to shake, cry, or break out in a sweat when faced with reading tasks.

What causes it?

People who have learning disabilities may be more prone to developing bibliophobia. A person who struggles to read often becomes frustrated and will dislike any activity that involves reading.

If you have difficulty learning to read when you are a child, you may develop an anxiety regarding reading that will follow you into adulthood.

Like other phobias, being afraid of something makes you want to avoid the cause of your fear. Sufferers of the condition are likely to avoid any situation where reading is required.

Treating bibliophobia

If you feel you may be suffering from bibliophobia, you should seek help from an adult counselor. Your counselor will determine if there is an underlying cause for the condition. A treatment plan will be established to help you overcome your fear of books or reading.

If you are a parent and feel your child may have the condition, meeting with a child counselor is best. Getting the proper treatment now can help your child live a normal life in adulthood.

While in counseling, you will likely be taught different ways to view books and reading. You may also be asked to read with your counselor. Reading in a safe environment, under the guidance of your counselor, is often helpful. You will progress at a pace that feels safe and comfortable for you.

Seeking help for bibliophobia is the first step to taking control of your life. Books and reading can become an important part of your life with the proper guidance and help a professional counselor can provide.