I’m cutting stuff out for brevity. I encourage you to read the context, that you may know that Ellen is spending an entire chapter of this book talking about the evils of reading fiction.
Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene
What shall our children read? It is a serious question, and demands a serious answer. I am troubled to see, in Christian families, periodicals and newspapers containing continued stories that leave no impress of good upon the mind.
I have watched those whose taste for fiction has been thus cultivated. They….live in an unreal world, and are unfitted for the practical duties of life. I have observed children allowed to come up in this way. Whether at home or abroad, they are either restless or dreamy, and are unable to converse, save upon the most common-place subjects. …
The mental food, for which he has acquired a relish, is contaminating in its effects, and leads to impure and sensual thoughts….
[The Youth] cannot be truly Christ-like, and continue to feed the mind upon this class of literature. Nor is the physical effect less disastrous. The nervous system is unnecessarily taxed by this passion for reading. In some cases, youth and even those of mature age, have been afflicted with paralysis from no other cause than excess in reading. The mind was kept under constant excitement, until the delicate machinery of the brain became so weakened that it could not act, and paralysis was the result.
When an appetite for exciting, sensational stories is cultivated, the moral taste becomes perverted, and the mind is unsatisfied unless constantly fed upon this trashy, unwholesome food.
I have seen young ladies…who were really unhappy unless they had on hand some new novel or story-paper. The mind craved stimulation, as the drunkard craves intoxicating drink….I am pained to see young men and women thus ruining their usefulness in this life, and failing to obtain an experience that will prepare them for an eternal life in heavenly society. We can find no more fit name for them than “mental inebriates.” Intemperate habits of reading exert a pernicious influence upon the brain as surely as does intemperance in eating or drinking.
Ellen then goes on for a while about the importance of Bible reading. It’s fairly standard Christianity, and thus we are skipping over it.