Books, Reading, & Libraries

Avoiding a Book Hangover

Avoiding a Book Hangover

You’ve probably heard people talk about their “book hangovers.” A book hangover arises when the book you just finished reading was so amazing that nothing else can even come close. There’s a fear of starting a new book and not giving it a reasonable chance to shine on its own. Some people wander around in a daze, unable to rejoin the real world because they’re stuck in that fabulous fictional world. There are plenty of articles on how to get over such a thing, but today I’m going to talk about avoiding a book hangover altogether.

Many people claim to get book hangovers. However, it’s not something that’s ever bothered me. When I told this to a friend, she said, “Well, you must not read much because that’s the only way to avoid a book hangover.”

Hah! I read all the time. And it’s not like I’m not invested in what I read. I laugh, I cry, and I cheer while I’m reading the book. But when it’s done, it’s done for me.

I think it’s this reading all the time that spares me the book hangover agony. I don’t understand the word “moderation” when it comes to reading. In fact, I’m closer to a chain smoker than a binge drinker when it comes to reading. There’s always another amazing book ready to go. As soon as one’s done, I’m on to the next. I’m not inclined to wallow in the dregs of past happiness. I’d rather just move on to the next fix. Just like any good addict…

Anyway…

“But,” I hear you say, “I read all the time, too, and I still get book hangovers. What do you do that I don’t?” Well, I don’t know if it helps, but here are my tips on avoiding a book hangover.

Keep a list of books you’re dying to read.

I always have a list of must-reads. These aren’t just books that I want to read, they’re books I’m dying to read. They’re sort of like my, “In Case of Emergency, Break Glass,” survival kit. Having something to look forward to alleviates the, “But what if I can’t find anything as good?” symptom of the book hangover. I always know there’s something amazing waiting.

Read multiple books at a time.

I’m always reading several books at a time. This way, I’m already invested in something else when another book ends. It stops the, “What do I read now?” pain.

Always have an unfinished series.

Whenever I find I series I love, I deliberately slow down. I don’t binge it. Instead, I stop after one or two books and save the rest for the day I need something to chase an amazing book. It’s hard to stop myself from plowing through, but the self-discipline pays off when I need an excellent transition book.

Don’t start a series until there are multiple books available.

For the above reason, I always wait to start a series until there are at least two books out. This way, if it ends on a cliffhanger or I need to save up books for later, I have that option. (Incidentally, this is also just good practice. If you’re buying books, it’s usually cheaper to wait for multiples to be released. You also have the luxury of bingeing the series if you want to. Plus, there will be plenty of reviews out so you’ll have a better idea if the series is truly something you want to invest time/money in. And don’t forget the joy of catching up on something older while everyone else is stuck in the cult of the new.)

Prepare ahead of time.

Whenever I’m reading a book that I feel is going to be mind-blowing, I make sure to go ahead and lay in a supply of “after” books. Maybe I’ll get books in the same genre, or by the same author. Or I’ll make sure my hold queue at the library is up to date so that something good should be rolling in any day. Don’t wait until the hangover hits to prepare. Get your meds lined up early so you avoid it altogether.

Read in multiple genres and formats.

A book hangover is usually related to limiting what one reads. If you only read fantasy, it’s natural to feel like you’ll never find another good one. Same with romance, biography, whatever. But when you read all kinds of things, it’s easy to jump from one amazing thing to another. You never feel like you’re searching for that one perfect book because you can be happy with so many different things. Be omnivorous!

Write about it in your reading journal.

If you have feelings to process about the book you just finished, write them down in your reading journal. Get it all out, pose your questions, speculate about the fate of the characters, and debate the ending. Then pick up another book and get reading.

Learn to “Let It Go.”

I guess the one thing I’ve learned is the subtle art of letting go. Now, I can’t let go of people, relationships, or pets, but I can let go of books. Somewhere along the line I learned to simply read, enjoy it, and then forget it. That doesn’t mean books don’t move me. They absolutely do. But I don’t get twisted up in the fictional world to the point where I feel like this is as good as it’s ever going to get. I know there’s always something just as good, if not better, out there and I’m more eager to find it than I am to wallow in what was.

(Photo courtesy of Pexels)

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