I took three books with me when I went backpacking last weekend.

When you're a backpacking novice like me, every ounce in your backpack matters; after the first mile, you are ready to toss everything except maybe a water bottle and M&Ms to keep you going. My friend and I debated leaving part of the tent behind, and discussed the merits of toilet paper, but I never considered leaving my books behind. And if I had left them, I would have been reading the backs of our dried fruit packages when we stopped for breaks.

I love to read.

I read War and Peace on a dare when I was 15, read the backs of cereal boxes and shampoo containers when I eat and shower, and rarely leave the house without a book.

So I identify very much with journalist Bibi van der Zee, who decided to go "cold turkey" from books for a week, and wrote on her experience in The Guardian earlier this month:

I am usually reading three, sometimes four books, with a pile of books waiting in case I run out. I never leave the house without my book, and if I'm taking a train I'll usually have a back-up book in case I finish the first one. I'd rather read than do housework or laundry, and sometimes I'd rather read than talk to friends or husband or family.

Van der Zee went on her "book fast" because, she says, she often senses that "books are eating you up instead of the other way round." I can identify. I try to read good literature, but even so, occasionally I find myself reading so much that I don't stop to process what I've read. I read the last page of Leif Enger's So Brave, Young and Handsome (a book I highly recommend) and proceeded on to an essay on terrorism I had been reading in The ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.