The Book Hangover

It’s 3:47 in the morning and physically, you feel terrible. Your head is pounding, your eyes are aching and strained from overuse, and you have an appalling knot on your lower back. The tea in front of you is disturbingly cold and maybe—just maybe—you forgot to drink anything at all in the last six to seven hours.

In fact, you had hardly moved since you sat down.  Your whole body is a little achy, and the world around you seems almost…fake, somehow. As though the place you really lived in was inside your book and not here, in this room. You look at a clock and decide to go to bed, knowing full well that you’ll be grouchy from a lack of sleep tomorrow.

So why on earth are you smiling?

Have you ever been so inspired by a book that you couldn’t help but think of it all day? Have you ever gotten so attached to a book’s characters that you couldn’t bring yourself to read a separate series without allowing yourself the time to let these characters go?

If so, you might be suffering from a “Book Hangover,” a very common experience for readers everywhere.

Of course, the term “Book Hangover” is relative to everyone—as it is stated on the Urban Dictionary. For some, it is the headache they acquire the morning after a late night of reading. For others, it is the inability to let go of the characters they grew to love. Book hangovers can be irritating, and may make you feel a variety of emotions:  from feeling spooked when you turn off the lights at night (what if there’s something there?)  to an incessant, day-long smile (as you think about a cute scene from a novel). You may even get a little cranky from staying up too late as you try to finish a chapter.

But that’s okay. It’s a good thing.

Because while you might be irritated by the fact that you just spent half the night reading the next installment, the authors can be proud of how much you were affected by their work.

Not being able to let go of characters, wanting more of the stories that you quickly grow to love—these are the things that made me want to write. If you’re reading a book and you get a reading hangover, it means that the author did a good job: they wrote in a way that was realistic enough to inspire you.

Because a good book isn’t just words on a page. It’s the feelings that those words give you: whether a little happy, a little grouchy, or a little inspired.

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