What’s a Book Hangover?

Wrong question. What I’m really asking is if you’e ever experienced one. According to Urban Dictionary, the definition 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.”

Now consider if you’ve ever experienced one. If you have, you can call the following number because you likely need professional help. Just kidding. There is no number for you to call. Oh well. Good luck.

But really, I like books just as much as the next person. Actually, I probably like them more. I’ve talked about my future intention of getting multiple literary-inspired tattoos. I’ve posted on here around 500 times. I have my little library of books right here next to me. And I have a few series that I’ve loved just like any other person. With all that being said, I’ve never experienced this book hangover nonsense. It’s called being a mature individual, if you ask me. I can imagine a seven-year-old talking about a book hangover (in other terms, of course) or even a 12-year-old. But I can’t see an adult talking about being lost in the world of the book they just finished the night before. That’s what I call an excuse.

In the minutes immediately following the completion of a good book I might think to myself about how great it was or I might write a post on here it if it’s from the Amazon list, but that’s it. I usually forget about the books I read after a short time because I move on to read something else. I could maybe describe the plots of ten books I’ve read because the stories were that great, but I’d need a gentle reminder for just about everything else.

Have you ever experienced a book hangover? I’m seriously hoping this post gets 25 Likes and zero comments.

On this day in 2014 I published World’s Ten Bestselling Authors Since 2001.


79 thoughts on “What’s a Book Hangover?

  1. Oh John, it might just depend on the genre, you know. I read fantasy…. and it’s hard not be caught reeling after I just finished an epic. The real world can be sort of lame after you’ve just read Wheel of time or Stormlight archive, not to forget the lingering dissatisfaction some endings hand out.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes. I have definitely experienced a book hangover, both as a child and as an adult. They are the reason I read – I like to get lost, I like to escape reality occasionally – and I doubt I’m the only one.

    I’m sorry that you have not experienced a book that mesmerized and drew you in to this extent during your adult life. Hopefully, you will be lucky enough to do so soon.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Sci-Fi leaves me feeling like a caveman after finishing a book, but otherwise I can’t say I’ve had this book hangover business. I tend to regret finishing because I don’t know what to do with myself for a few days after I’m done, but that’s really it.


  4. If I’ve read a really great book, I want to stay in that world. It doesn’t matter if it’s dystopian fantasy (Hunger Games, Insurgent) or mystery thriller (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Kay Scarpetta series). And, hey, series are a plus because you can stay in that world longer.


    • That’s everyone. And has nothing to do with this hangover stuff everyone else is talking about. My favorite series (besides The Hunger Games) has more than 40 books in it. So I’m all set.


  5. Of course I’ve had book hang-overs! My first was as a teenager after reading the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy in one week. I was devastated. I get them especially after reading a series where I follow the main character through his or her life right up until death. I feel bereft!
    Try David Gemmel’s Troy trilogy and tell me you weren’t hung over.


  6. I used to as a kid, but now I’m just searching for a book that has that effect on me again. Reading several books in a series, back to back, in a short space of time has a similar effect…. but that might be the effect of caffeine and no natural light…


  7. I’ve read Lord of the Rings three of four times and I’ve never got to the end without immediately going back to Chapter Two just to keep the story going. Is that a hangover?


  8. Love this post! I get these after reading a great book or series. I wallow on my couch for days ruminating on how it ended, should of ended, and bemoaning how I’ll never see these characters again.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think that whether you experience a book hangover or not is directly related to your reading philosophy. Is reading a habit or passion? You might miss out on this phenomenon entirely. Is reading an adventure? You’ll probably need a little time to recalibrate your mind with the real world.
    Experiencing a book hangover, though?
    That’s how you know that reading has become your escape. When your life, or your perception of it has become so bad that you subconsciously place yourself within a fictional scene, it’s hard to move past that. When you have become emotionally invested in the characters because they are so much like you, but they can defeat their antagonist, it’s a kind of sheer torture to force yourself to admit that you don’t live in that world, and your monsters are still dominating the playing field.
    And yes, I experience book hangovers every time I read a good book, and maybe you’re right. Maybe I’m being too immature about this whole thing. My question, in reply to that, however, is “Can you blame me?” All I want to do is see myself succeed and overcome, and within the confines of a cleverly woven narrative, I did that. Can you blame me when my achievements are stripped away and reality forces me to take a step back? Is it unrealistic to fall when the stripping away of your courage throws you off balance?
    But what do I know? I’m just a kid, trying to survive in a world that I wish to God was fictional. So call it what you want, and disbelieve it if you have to.
    Just be glad you’ve never had to experience it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure if you’re actually asking me questions or if you’re just speaking to yourself or what. So this is me replying so you know I at least read what you said.


  10. I’ve definitely had book hangovers! Not very frequently, but usually after books I really, really loved. I tend to go into a book slump and can’t find anything to read afterwards, so end up re-reading the book I loved.
    I believe that a book “hangover” only happens when you’re so absorbed into a world that you begin to feel a part of it. I tend to get very emotionally attached to characters. I go so deep into that world that it’s hard to extricate myself. That, to me, is the mark of a very good book…. a life changing book, even. Definitely not some run of the mill throwaway affair.


  11. I’ve never felt the phenomenon that you describe here, but I can say, as a writer, whenever I finish a great book or see a fantastic film, I’m usually inspired to write, wishing I had actually written it, or had been a part of it someway, and wondering if I can even accomplish that level of greatness (and needing to push myself to do it). So for me, it’s not about wanting to stay in that world because the real world sucks, it’s being able to capture that feeling in my own work. If that makes any sense whatsoever!


  12. I had this as a kid and young adult, but not since. Most books I read I think are okay, some I love, some I loathe, some I think about for a bit after, most I forget.
    I did go through a nasty habit of writing something like the book I’d just read – something Victorian set after Dickens, something spooky after reading Neil Gaiman. I think I’m past that now!


    • Exactly. Even after the crap I’ve gotten for this, I just can’t see an adult experiencing these things. Well, I think that’s basically what I’ve done and likely will do in the future. I’m not trying to directly copy anyone, but I’d like to think I’m gathering information every time I read a crime novel.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Exactly. I feel like I’m saying good-bye to a friend if I’ve really connected with a character. I’m not saying it well. But there is a quote from “Catcher in the Rye” which, of course, I can’t remember verbatim, (okay now I’m going to look it up). “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.” So I stay in that world a bit and then want to know the author.


  14. BAHAHAHA!!! Did you honestly expect no comments? That would be like when you posted about the smell of books. People are so opinionated on these matters, there’s no way you won’t have a bajillion comments.
    As for me, this definition: “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.” is not what a book hangover is. There are books that I’ve loved and sometimes wish I lived in that world, but that’s most readers. I mean, who wouldn’t want to go to Hogwarts? Or Narnia? Or Middle Earth? (For me, anyways). We all want an escape at times, but for me, a book hangover is something that is experienced when a book impacts you more than another. When a character stays with you longer, or a plot that makes you think more about the world. Or you have a hard time moving on to another book because you’re still digesting the last one. I’ve never looked at the world afterwards and thought it was surreal or incomplete. How can it be? The world is the world. Whether we like it or not, it is very real and absolutely complete (insomuch that it is the world). Is that too philosophical?
    For me, the only real book hangover I can remember is after I finished The Hunger Games trilogy. Actually, it was only after the third book. To me, the first half of the book is filled with political slowness, but after that, it’s ACTION ACTION ACTION ACTION ACTION and them, BAM! It’s over. Not much of a wind-down at all. And since the end of the book was unexpected and traumatic and I didn’t get that sense of resolution, I had a hard time moving on to another book for about a week. But then I got over it.
    Sorry for the long comment.


  15. I don’t ever want to *be* in the world of a book, because most worlds I read about are dystopian and terrible. Nor do I ever want the characters to be friends of mine.

    However, I guess I’ve had a “book hangover” and “movie hangovers” and even “video game hangovers” before if by that we mean “constantly being invaded by thoughts of that book/movie/show for days after completing it.” I know something is good if I can’t get it out of my head. And if I immediately want to go back and read/watch/play it again to pick up on stuff I missed the first go round, or just to relive some of the brilliant moments. I don’t really think that’s the same thing you’re talking about though – I’ve never had the real world feel inadequate because of fiction, I’ve just really LOVED some stuff I’ve read before and it made me really happy for a short while after.


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