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

Lynn Spencer
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I enjoy spending as much time as I can between the covers of a book, traveling through time and around the world. When I'm not having adventures with fictional characters, I'm an attorney in Virginia and I love just hanging out with my husband, little man, and the cat who rules our house.