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February 25, 2016


Four ways to cure a book hangover

by Leanne Howard


For all you book lovers, I’m sure it’s a familiar sensation: when you turn the last page, close the book, remember that there is a world beyond the cramped and uncomfortable circle of your reading space, and then instantly wish to forget that one and return to the one in your book instead. The Book Hangover.

I have suffered from many Book Hangovers of varying severity in my life. Unlike real hangovers, which make me want to curl up and forget how to move, Book Hangovers fill me with an unsettling, restless energy. They make me want to Do Something, capital D capital S, but they often neglect to supply me with exactly what I’m meant to do. They leave that bit for me to discover on my own, which is why frustration is another common symptom.

My current Book Hangover comes courtesy of the Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson. (This has been a warning. And also a recommendation. Go read them. Now.)

I’ve tried a few treatments for the Book Hangover:

  1. Read the next book in the series, if available. 
    Okay, this is the most obvious medicine. If you’re a responsible reader, you’ll have that book queued up and ready to go. (Also, if you’re taking my advice re: Shades of London, this is particularly important with Books 2 and 3. DO NOT READ SEPARATELY. Trust me on this.) However, these things aren’t always within our control. See my Shades of London example above – no Book 4 available yet. (Alas.)
  2. Read a new book.
    A less elegant but admittedly effective solution. Warning: side effects include a Book Hangover spiral that gradually increases in intensity and desperation until you have read ALL THE BOOKS and they start to blend together in your memories like a fever dream. Or is that just me?
  3. Join a fandom.
    Ooh, my child. My sweet summer child. Your situation is grave indeed if it has brought you to this. Before you walk down this road, just know you can never look back. Not at all. Not even once. If you try to turn your face to the land of the living, your soul will be left behind forever in the spirit world of the fandom.

Yep, I’m already several leagues down the Soulless Road due to my frequent partaking of #3, but that’s for a different post. My main purpose today is to discuss the possibility of a fourth option, one which I’ve only just discovered:

4. Fuel your creativity.
Remember that restless, frustrating feeling I mentioned above? Well, I’ve lately discovered another word for that, which is inspiration. Whatever you just read got under your skin so much that it stretched you out a bit, re-molded you, settled you back into your normal spaces with a little bit of difference. The key to re-orienting yourself is to find that difference and figure out why it matters to much to you. Can’t stop thinking about that one scene where the characters are facing down a wall of fog-monsters in The Shadow Cabinet? Yeah, me neither. I’ll probably see it in my dreams tonight. That’s because it’s so gorgeously unsettling, both creepy and real, in a way that my own battle sequences and fictional monsters could only hope to be. Keep thinking about it. Decode what makes it so good. Apply those qualities to your own work. Repeat.

This isn’t just a lesson for writers. Every bit of entertainment that lingers with us can be the fuel for some other aspect of our lives, whether it’s art, music, dancing, crafting, knitting, baking, or socializing.

Yes, that’s right, I said socializing. Socializing is this new thing I’m trying out. It means two or more people talk or do things together in the same place at the same time. It’s pretty all right sometimes. It gets even better when you can talk about the book that gave you a hangover, or the show that you can’t stop thinking about, or the movie that made you question who you are. Once you get going, it’s hard to stop, and then more and more people are reading things or watching things and wanting to talk about them with you. It’s great.

I highly recommend it.

But first, I have to dash back to the Spirit Realm. The fandoms are calling. Shades of London fans – where my shippers at?


1 Comment Post a comment
  1. JD
    Mar 26 2016

    Can definitely relate to the book hangover. One of the things that helps me with a book hangover is to journal about it. To write about how it affected me, what I loved about it, etc. Then if that isn’t enough, writing a book review can help. Also sharing the book with the world is good.


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