Don Quijote read so many novels about knights and dragons and fair damsels in distress that it unsettled his mind. In his famous book Cervantes shows great familiarity with those libros de caballerías, as they were called: he had fallen for them too. He wasn’t the only Spaniard in sixteenth-century Spain that got hooked on them. Another was Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. And another was Teresa of Avila, the great mystic.
Teresa was afterwards very sorry she had wasted so much time on them. Her mother read them too but was able to put them down when it was time to work. Not so Teresa: “I fell into the habit of reading them…and it didn’t seem at all bad to spend many hours of the day and night on such a frivolous activity, without my father’s knowing it. This love became so extreme that if I didn’t have a new book I didn’t feel happy…”