Book Hangover: Real or Myth?

April 9, 2017

People talk about having a book hangover after reading a really good book. But what exactly does that mean?

What is a Book Hangover?

According to, a book hangover is “When you’ve finished a book and you suddenly return to the real world, but the real world feels incomplete or surreal because you’re still living in the world of the book.” In other words, it’s that feeling of emptiness you get when you leave something in which you’ve invested a part of yourself behind.

A Book Hangover. You’re kidding me, right?

Nope, not even close. The struggle is real. BuzzFeed even put together a list of 21 common signs to check if you think that you might be suffering from one. It includes things like developing feelings for the characters, or re-reading your favorite parts over and over because you’re just not ready to let go.

I’ve been an avid reader all my life, and as such, I’ve experienced many book hangovers. Books are, and always have been, an escape for me. As such, I tend to lose myself in them.  So much so, that when I finish a book, it takes me a while to readjust to everyday life. It can take hours – or, in the case of a really good book, sometimes days – for me to stop thinking about the characters, the plots, what was said and done and why. The more involved I am the story, the longer it takes to recover.

(That, by the way, is also why I only like reading HEAs (Happily Ever Afters) or HFNs (Happy For Nows), and avoid cliffhangers whenever possible. As bad as a book hangover is, it’s even worse for me if there’s no closure.)

I once read a 3-book series that ended badly. As a busy mom and wife with a job outside the home, it took me weeks of stealing precious minutes here and there to finish. During that time, I went where the characters went, felt what they felt, shared in their struggles. Eventually, good triumphed over evil, but it was a bittersweet victory. Despite their sacrifices, the hero and heroine didn’t end up together. I walked around depressed for days, because I so wanted everything to work out.

It’s not the same for everyone.

When I tell people that story, I usually get one of two reactions: either they look at me like I’m crazy and say ridiculous things like “But it’s just a book!”, or they nod sympathetically because they get it.

I’m not saying that series was bad, or that other people should feel the same way about it that I did. Reading is a very personal, subjective experience. Everyone likes (and is affected by) different things. We have our favorites and our triggers.  What I am saying is, someone who loves to escape into books – whatever world they choose – is going to sometimes feel disappointment when they’re forced to walk away.

So what can you do for a book hangover?

Like anything else, different readers have different ideas for how best to deal. Me? I give myself some time, maybe a day or two, before starting another book. Maybe I’ll work on building some of my own worlds for a while, or do something completely crazy, something non-book related, like house or yard work.

For more suggestions, check out Book Riot’s 7 Cures for Your Book Hangover. But if you ask me, the best way to get over a book hangover is with a little hair of the dog: find yourself another great book.

Happy Reading,