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Fear of Books


Updated July 17, 2014

Bibliophobia is a reasonably unusual phobia. It can be broadly defined as the fear of books. Many people suffer 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.

Although this phobia is rather unusual, it makes an excellent backdrop for certain Halloween events, such as Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 2008. 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.

The Phobia

If you suffer from bibliophobia, you may have difficulty when forced or encouraged to read. You may fear the stories themselves, or even the simple act of reading. If you suffer from learning disabilities or difficulty with reading, then it is natural to be nervous, particularly when reading out loud. It is therefore important to determine and treat the root cause of the phobia.

If you have bibliophobia, you may shake, sweat or cry when reading. You might go out of your way to avoid reading out loud, sitting in the back of a classroom or even skipping classes. You may try to convince others to read important information to you.

The Treatment

Bibliophobia can be extremely life-limiting, causing problems at work and school as well as in personal life. Therefore, if you suspect that you have bibliophobia, it is important to seek treatment right away. 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.


American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

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