Bibliophobia is an unusual phobia of books. It can be broadly defined as the fear of books, but it also refers to a fear of reading or reading out loud or in public. Many people have only a subset of this phobia, fearing textbooks or historical novels or children’s stories, rather than a fear of all books. Mythophobia, or the fear of legends, can be considered a subtype of bibliophobia if the fear is of those legends that are written down. Metrophobia, or fear of poetry, is another subtype of bibliophobia.
If you experience bibliophobia, you may have difficulty when forced or encouraged to read. You may fear the stories themselves. Or, even the simple act of reading, holding a book, or being in a library may cause anxious behavior associated with your phobia. If you have learning disabilities or difficulty with reading, then it is natural to be nervous, particularly when reading out loud. It is important to determine and treat the root cause of the phobia. You may have been ostracized in childhood for not reading adequately or forced to read before you were proficient, so the fear is associated with a lack of control over reading material which has created your aversion and resulted in anxiety surrounding books.
Because bibliophobia can be extremely life-limiting, causing problems at work and school as well as in personal life, it’s important that you seek proper treatment. Your doctor or mental health professional will work with you to develop a treatment plan that fits your needs. You will likely be taught new ways of thinking about books, and encouraged to read a few pages at a time within the safety of your therapist’s office. At no time will you be forced to progress at a faster pace than you feel comfortable with.
Bibliophobia in Popular Culture
Although this phobia is rather unusual, it makes an excellent backdrop for certain Halloween events, such as Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights. In Universal’s scenario, for example, a female drama voice coach develops both bibliophobia and metrophobia, making it difficult or impossible to do her job. The treatment, in horror movie style, is to force the woman to face horrific images contained in a series of twisted fairy tales. This may be a comic way of showing people who are afraid of scary stories, but the fear should be taken seriously because of the consequences of this particular fear.