According to History, Reading in Bed Makes Me Evil

Kristen Twardowski

Joseph_Caraud_Am_Morgen_1865.jpg Joseph Caraud, “Am Morgen”, Öl auf Holz, 1865, via Wikimedia.

Reading is more dangerous than I thought. Not only is reading while walking cause for concern, but reading in bed may also be a problem. At least people who lived during the 1800’s thought it was.

Like cigarettes are today, reading in bed was a fire hazard. People needed candlelight to see. If they drifted off to sleep while reading with a candle burning at their bedside, there was always a chance that the house could catch fire.

The Atlantic recently published an article that details how the British came to connect reading in bed first to fire and then to an immoral spirit. People who read this way were considered to be “insolent child[ren]” prone to crime. This kind of commentary seems like an overreaction, but the disapproval of reading stemmed from broader changes to society. By the…

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