The Book Hangover

It is two o’clock in the morning. You have work the next morning, and maybe kids that will be up in a few hours and need to get dressed and fed and sent off to school. You should have been asleep hours ago, but the “one more chapter” bug has hit and you have a book you can’t put down. Finally, around 4 am, the book is finished, you have a wad of used Kleenex on the nightstand, your eyes feel like sandpaper, but you have a sense of euphoria at the wonderful book that you have just read. Sounds great right? Yeah – all except for the hangover that you are sure to get the next morning.

The Book Hangover. Have you ever had it? What is it? It is more than just the exhaustion that you have the next day when you stayed up too late reading a good book. That is a part of it. But just like a regular hangover, the headache isn’t the whole package. There is more to the situation. Even two days later, when you are all caught up with sleep, you just can’t wind down and read another book. That is the kicker. The last book is still lingering with you and you just can’t get into anything else. You loved the book so much, but it makes it hard for the next one…how will it ever compare to the one that you are still lingering over emotionally? These treasures are few and far between, but when they hit, they are a force to be reckoned with.

When you have a great night partying, you pay for it the next day – but at least you had the fun to start with. The Book Hangover is the same. You read a great book – likely a DIK. It was a book where everything just seemed to hit the right note, the emotion was high, the characters became your buddies, and the plot was thick. You had a good run. But you pay for it later.

For me, the hangover could have one of two effects. Sometimes, I can’t get into another book because I am still lost in the world of the one I just finished. This is usually more common when I am reading Paranormal or Fantasy books. I can get lost in the world that the author created and start to expect the next set of characters to have the same skills or follow the same rules. After reading a series where the vamps can turn people, I expect the next set of vamps to have the same skill set and I get confused when that isn’t the answer to the couple’s dilemma. It sometimes takes a minute to remember that it is a different series with a different set of rules. Fear of this keeps me from jumping into the next book.

The other possible effect of the hangover for me is that I am just too emotionally wrung out to get invested again. I need to take a break. The characters took too much out of me and I can’t quite get to the point that I want to give my all to a whole new set. I find myself skimming important back story of the new book because I just am afraid that I will care too much. This often happens when glomming a new series. Since I loved the last set of characters, I assume the author is going to make me care about the next set just as much and I just don’t know if I can handle it! So something inside me resists and the new book sits unread.

I think the last Book Hangover I had was with Lover Reborn by JR Ward. In that one, I stayed up til it downloaded to my Kindle, read through the night, worked all day, repeated the stay up all night. Once I finished, there was a sense of – now what? I waited for this book for a year and the thought of a new book was far too overwhelming. But I didn’t want to let go of the euphoria either. I ended up rereading the whole thing, at a more leisurely pace, right away.

Just like a regular hangover, fortunately there are remedies. Taking a break before starting the next book. Rereading your favorite parts of the book that caused the hangover in the first place. A good night’s sleep. For some – the hair of the dog works best and jumping into a new book is the solution. Whatever the remedy, the important part is that it is all temporary. It is something that will go away.

Will I stay up again and read a great book? Of course. Just with the regular kind of hangover, I sometimes over indulge. But for that really great book, the hangover is worth it!

Have you experienced the Book Hangover? How do you deal with it? What book was the last one to give you a hangover?

– Louise VanderVliet

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21 Responses to “The Book Hangover”

  1. Maggie AAR says:

    My last book hangover was Aftershock by Jill Sorenson. I did not expect to get into it as much as I did and wound up doing the one more chapter thing a lot.

    My most memorable book hangover was probably Hunger Games. I just didn’t expect to get into it as much as I did or I would never have started it at night.

    I made sure to start the Bess Crawford novels during the day or they would have been book hangovers. I knew that from the sample chapter though and planned accordingly. :-)

    I haven’t found the perfect way to deal with those books that have you wanting to stay up all night reading them. I have gotten better about staying up late (1 or so) and then firmly telling myself finish it tomorrow. The hardest part is that the book stays in your head and you don’t always fall asleep right away.

  2. Judy says:

    Really agree with all stated in this post Louise.
    When characters come to life and the scenery makes you feel like you are there, how can you not become invested in the book?
    I just finished The Siren by Tiffany Reisz. All I can say is double WOW. what an emotional rollercoaster she took me on and I used a few tissues in the process. This is book one and two more follow. I had to take a break before ordering the second book mainly because the book left me in a sad state.
    For me this is a sign of an excellent writer who is good at her/his craft as they pull you into the story.

  3. Leigh says:

    The best and worst of times!

    • Leigh says:

      Leigh: The best and worst of times!

      I wasn’t finished and my post got sent. I think that this can be a big issues with series books, expecially if you have been anxiously awaiting a certain character’s story. I know that when I was reading a certain series, the author would always give glimpses of potential conflicts and then after finishing the book, I would imagine different scenarios. Is this going to happen? Or what is next?

      Some author just have the knack of pulling you into their world. And then it is very difficult to leave it.

      I suspect all of us have had the book hangover.

  4. Lynnd says:

    My last book hangover came from The Prince by Tiffany Reisz. Her books are like onions, so many layers (allegorical, philisophical) and she carries all of those layers throughout all of the books in this series. After I finished, I spent days in my own mind working out those layers and going back to previous books to figure out what clues I may have missed. I could not get into any other book for at least a week For me, the best medicine for the book hangover is to just take a break from reading anything new and savour the delight. Luckily for me, Courtney Milan’s latest came out just when I was ready to start reading again and even a few chapters in, I can tell that I will soon have another book hangover to contend with :-) .

  5. Louise says:

    Two of you say you get them from the same author… I think that is a sign I need to check her out! What type of books does Reisz write? I am up for a good hangover – it has been a few months! :)

    • Judy says:

      Louise:
      Tiffany Reisz writes BDSM theme. To tell you the truth I was not offended in the least reading about Nora and Sorens lifestyle. Don’t want to give any spoilers. Trust me, you need to check her out, but start with first book The Siren.
      Two thumbs up!

    • Lynnd says:

      I agree with Louise that you must read these books in order. Nothing in these books offended or bothered me and, in fact, there was much that made me re-examine some of my own beliefs about some of the issues dealt with on the book. I would suggest that you read Courtney Milan’s review of The Siren (on Goodreads) – it gives a pretty good idea of what the book is about. I will also caution that it is NOT a romance.

  6. NBLibGirl says:

    I like this idea! I’ve never been one to over indulge in alcohol but books and I go way back.

    My first major hangover was caused by Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged when I was about 16 . . . fortunately it was summer vacation and I think I read around the clock with only short naps to sustain me for what seemed like 3 days . . . and then moped for the rest of the summer because nothing else could duplicate the experience. I’ll never forget what it was like to read that book.

    There have been many since: Diana Galbadon, JR Ward, Sara Donati, Sharon Kay Penman, Harry Potter . . . Interesting to note that most of my hangovers are from books with a certain heft to them . . . I guess a two or three hour read – no matter how good – just doesn’t have the same impact as the ones that last long enough to keep one up all night.

    My most recent hangover occurred with Josh Lanyon’s Adrien English series . . . it would be interesting to know if I would have the same reaction if only the first book/novella had been available. But the first two stories came packaged together. It was the first time I’d ever used my Kindle for traveling and it was about 2 in the morning, in the middle of nowhere, my husband and son asleep in the travel motel room beside me and I absolutely couldn’t not go get the 3rd book right then! To be quickly followed up by books 4 and 5 in rapid succession. All together, the 5 novellas/novels make up one of the best romances I’ve ever read. recently.

  7. farmwifetwo says:

    Mine was The Discovery of Witches. I had to read it… I’ve gotten too use to reading quickly and bought book 2 when I was half way through the first which I got from the library.

    It doesn’t happen often enough.

    • Lynnd says:

      What did you think of Book 2? I really liked A Discovery of Witches (it was a stay up late but not a hangover read for me), but I could not finish book 2.

  8. Cindy says:

    What a gift when a book is so well done that it can move you to give yourself a hangover! My most recent one was J. A. Redmerski’s The Edge of Never. I enjoyed it so completely I had trouble moving on and did return to reread a lot of it. Also have been playing The Rolling Stones’ “Laugh, I Nearly Died” which was new to me and the author used in a scene that particularly appealed to me. *sigh* Now I’m ready for Tiffany Reisz!

  9. Caryl says:

    My first book hangover was with Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett which I read when the series came out in paperback in the early 80s. I had to go into the bathroom to read so the light wouldn’t bother my roommates. I read right through to 7AM, got dressed and went to work, where, needless to say, I didn’t perform optimally. I got home and immediately re-read it (although more slowly that time, but still finished in 2 days) and then went through the entire series from Checkmate on.

    If there had been a Dungeon and Dragons version of the Lymond Chronicles I would have left this world behind.

    Happy memories.

  10. Tahyun says:

    I have had that problem but right now I am having a different problem. I have been reading this really great trilogy and I finished the first two books, but I can’t bring myself to read the third one. I just don’t want it to end. The world is too cool and I am probably more than half in love with the main character and I know people are going to die in the end and I just don’t want it to happen and I just can’t do it. My mother (we read the same fantasy novels) finished it like a year ago and can’t understand why I won’t just read it, especially since I love the series so much. But alas, I still haven’t brought myself to do it. I think it does not help that there is a second trilogy based in the same world, but it got excessively poor ratings because it just could not compete with this one.

    Has this ever happened to any of you? Is this like… Reverse Book Hangover? Not quite… Book Hangover Paranoia? Is there a Book Hangover phobia word…? If there isn’t, I think perhaps someone should invent it.

    • marilyn s. says:

      What is the name of the trilogy? I’ve been looking for something to really grab my attention.

      • Tahyun says:

        Like I said, it’s Fantasy (not romance) although there is a little romance in it. It is called the Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey. I am a bit 50/50 on the author, although she is quite renowned, but for some reason, I really got into this story.

    • Panalopy says:

      I have been known to do this. I can go through a trilogy in a day or two so I’ll drag it out, rereading the first two, reading something else until I just can’t wait anymore. I will also wait until the last book is published to start reading a series if I discover it towards the end. Readers can be a strange bunch :)

  11. VictoriaS says:

    I must be all kind of multiple-personality-disordered, because not only do I get Book Hangover, I also suffer from Tahyun’s described disorder, the-”I-can’t-read-anymore-’cause-I-don’t-want-this-book-to-end syndrome. I have also stopped reading in the middle of a book (’cause I can’t stand to get to the end0, only to pick it up ’cause I can’t stand not reading what happens next, only to put it back yeah, you get the picture(CRAZY).

    I have found that re-reading the book I just finished helps me get over Book Hangover. I read Courtney Milan’s “Unlocked” 3 times before I could move on. I also re-read old faves until the Hangover passes. I have learned NOT to try anything new while in the throes of a Hangover, because I will judge the new book unfairly.
    Sherry Thomas is another author who gives good Book Hangover. Her last three;”Beguiling the Beauty” ,”Tempting the Bride” and “Ravishing the Heiress” all ,made me so mad, I had to calm down before I could read anything else. In the case of all three,I had to go back and re-read also before I could move on.

    Joanna Bourne’s Spymaster series was positively gut-wrenching and caused some major Book Hangover. They have now become some of my go-to books I re-read recovering from Book Hangover.

  12. [...] When was the last time you had a book hangover? [...]

  13. Judith says:

    I must have the same personality disorder as VictoriaS, because I also get book hangovers and “I can’t bear to finish because then it will be OVER!” syndrome.
    I think my first hangover was Gone with the Wind – read it in three days (I was 12), even while riding my bike to school. I got in sooo much trouble for reading an outside book in English class! Most recently, I read all of Sherry Thomas’ recent trilogy starting late on a Saturday night – “Oh, I am too up from a lovely party to go right to sleep – I’ll just read a while.” Big mistake! I was totally useless at work on Monday.
    My solution for the hangover is to switch to a completely different genre for the next book, hoping to avoid comparisons. Doesn’t always work, in which case I reread both the hangover book, and other favorites, until I feel ready to try again.

  14. Panalopy says:

    My first book hangover was from the Trixie Belden series when I was 9, I read the first 10 books over course of a weekend. I was completely useless in school on Monday, it was great.

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