Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Book Hangovers:" What'll Cure What Ails Ya?

the morning after....mockingjay

I've been in a total reading funk for the past couple of days, you guys. You see, I managed to score an advanced copy of Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr (all thanks to Tara at Hobbitsies, who won a contest. And who is an angel, by the way. She knows how much I never shut up about the Wicked Lovely series.) I put off reading it for a few weeks, because a) I sometimes loathe the endings of series. I don't think I need to mention Twilight, because Breaking Dawn was a total disappointment, in my opinion. b) I didn't want it to end.

It is so very, very rare that I have such a strong emotional attachment to book characters. It's usually a small fling where I'm interested in the characters while I'm reading the book, but my rebound rate is pretty quickly. I can typically close a book, gaze at it fondly and thank it for the good times, then it's onto the next. In fact, I can only recall two other times when I've actually felt more than a brief sadness that the series had ended:

1. The Twilight Series...er "Saga."
Whatever. I was totally blinded by this series and didn't think that anything else out there would ever, EVER live up to the fierceness of Bella and Edward's relationship. Seriously. It was borderline sick. I would go back and read my favorite parts and smile to myself. I'd read the breakup scene in New Moon and tear up, then flip to the end and flail my arms and make high-pitched noises at the reunion scene. I'd shake my fist at Jacob in Eclipse for coming between my favorite couple and pound my fist on Bella's name when she kissed Jacob. And I'd read the wedding scene in Breaking Dawn and then close the book, pretending that the other 600 pages consisted of Bella and Edward "making up for lost time." The only thing I could do was re-read to take away the feeling that something was missing--kind of like chugging a beer the morning after an insane night of partying. It took me awhile to get over it, but thankfully I've moved on to bigger and better things. (I still smile coyly at the books on my shelf and sneak some quick reads in... you know, for old times sake.)

2. The Hunger Games Series.
I grew very attached to these characters based not on the love story, but because Katniss was such an incredible, capable, strong heroine. Totally the antithesis of Bella Swan. It was so refreshing to read a story where the MC could solve her OWN problems, without necessary male intervention. I mourned for every single one of Katniss' losses. More often than not, the turning of events in each book would leave me buzzing with adrenaline and slack-jawed. And, unlike Breaking Dawn where everything was tied up into a stupid carnation pink bow with babies and werewolves and no violence, there was loss in Mockingjay. There was sacrifice and pain. I stayed up until 3:00am to finish this book on a work night, shaking the bed with sobs and snot. This book destroyed me for a good period of time. I didn't want to read anything else. I needed an adequate mourning period. I couldn't fix this book hangover by re-reading. I just needed to let the pain run its course.

And now we have the The Wicked Lovely Series that have ended. Kind of a combination of both reactions. I will eventually re-read these.. but I still think that I need time to let it all marinate and sink in. I'm still drunk off those characters and that world. I MISS them. I did tweet a little with Melissa Marr about my feelings on the final book and that helped a bit (namedropping, sorry. But for real.. I felt like I was talking to an A-list celebrity!) It's been about a week and I've finally been able to divert my attention to another book, but it's still kind of hard when all I want to do is bribe someone to take a frying pan to my head and pray for temporary amnesia, so I can read the books like it's the first time.

Have YOU ever had a book hangover? Has there been a book/series that's had such a deep impact on you that you felt mildly depressed after the ending? And what do you do to help yourself get over it?


  1. My book hangovers usually come from realistic fiction books. One that comes to mind is Nineteen Minutes by Picoult. You know, those gut wrenching tales that take everything out of you and leave you empty for a while. I usually have to take a day or two off from reading, and then I have to pick something TOTALLY different to read. Light-hearted, or fantasy or something like that. Keep telling yourself -- there will be other books or series that make you feel this way. That's something to look forward to!

  2. oh man, totally with you on the Twilight hangover. but instead of just a typical hangover where you're like "oh man, that was SO fun (vomit)" i was more like "oh man, that was SO fun...wait...did that REALLY happen? (vomit) i'm SO BITTER". i'm still bitter about the ending of the series because it was so awesomely built up and then...BLAH. ugh.

    as for curing the hangover? ranting on the interwebs usually works. :)

  3. I definitely have them! I hate reading the last book in a series because I hate knowing that that is it. Hunger Games was definitely one of those for me also. The characters were so well written that I felt attached to them too!

  4. I'm having one right now! Every time I read a book by A.S. King I can't read anything else for at least a week. I don't know what it is, but she just floors me every time. I finished Please Ignore Vera Deitz 2 days ago and I'm still not over it. Also, the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness. I'm still raw from that series and I finished it months ago.

  5. Yes, I definitely understand where you're coming from! I get that kind of let-down feeling you get after a party or when a trip is over sometimes after I've finished a series or a book I really highly anticipated. The reading experience is never the same the second time, even though you can still re-read and enjoy (depending on the book).

  6. Hahah awesome post! Especially love the picture you chose. Both Anna and the French Kiss & Delirium caused me to have book hang-overs. I was unable to stop thinking about the characters and in the case of Anna, I stayed up until 3am to finish it.

  7. Annette, I've never read any of Jodi's books, but I've heard amazing things. I'm all about "gut-wrenching," so maybe this is something I should check out. I LOVE IT when books make you FEEL.

    Lisa, YES. Bitter is definitely a great word to use to describe the post-BD feeling. Twilight will always be a 3.25 book series.

    Two Readers, wasn't Mockingjay just like... the end of your heart for a minute? It was so difficult getting over that one.

    Stephanie, I am SO glad to hear that about A.S King because I'm reading Vera Dietz RIGHT NOW and really, really liking it so far. Her voice is fabulous.

    Danya, I wish it was the same the second time. But there's no element of surprise like there was the first read-through. Luckily, in some books, there's always something new to find <3 that's what I'm banking on with the Wicked Lovely books.

    Kate, AGREED! Delirium was just...ugh, heartachey and Anna was freaking amazing. I cannot wait for more from BOTH of those authors.

  8. I totally agree with you! The Hunger Games and the Twilight Saga is the only books that have left me in a book hangover. Haven't read the Wicked Lovely series yet though, but they sound great!

  9. Yeah, it happens. For me, with Mockingjay, I just couldn't read for a few days. My head was still in that story (and honestly it never left. Just took a backseat so I could be sane again). And with Looking For Alaska, I just didn't feel like another book could ever live up to it, and I put off reading for a little while

    So, what I do: give myself time. Ending an amazing book is like breaking up. Takes time to heal.

  10. It's funny - my definition of a book hangover is slightly different. I think of a book hangover as the day after you stayed up till stupid o'clock in the morning just so you could finish it, cause you couldn't put it down... and then had to get up 2 hours later to go to school. I like your definition too though. It's been a long time since I had that reaction to anything (though I can see it coming on the Wicked Lovely series). I think the last one for me was Harry Potter and that was a combination of both kinds of hangover! Usually I just let it settle for a bit. Don't pick up anything that will be heavy reading for a while. In fact, read the nearest, fluffiest, absolutely light book you can find and read a few pages every day. When you're done you'll find you can read other, important, involved emotional books again.

    It's hard to go through this - as readers we love our books too much. But it does get better with time and less weighty subject matter to take your mind off of it.

  11. Mockingjay gave me a hangover for sure...I can't think of any other books that have left me feeling yucky because it's over. But for me, even though I might not want to, I have to jump into reading a book right away so I don't get too depressed, lol.

  12. Omg YES!! I get book hangovers more & more easily these days. I am not sure what the deal is. Are the stories getting better? or am I losing my tolerance? haha I was beyond sick after Twilight. I can't tell you how many times I read those books (1-3 respectively b/c I HATED book 4). That series is what got me hooked to YA in the first place! I guess you could say every other book after that.. and still continuing.. is my "cure" for Twilight.

    The most recent hangover: Delirium. OH MY GOD. If this is what the first book did to me, what in the world is coming with the next 2?! Holy crap. Someone get me an IV now!!

    I just purchased Wicked Lovely a few weeks ago & I am eager to read it soon. I still need to finish Vampire Academy too. But at the moment: I'm working my way through the Jessica Darling series. HOLY CRAP. Where's that IV?!

  13. Hahahahaha, I was OBSESSED with Twilight - the whole times I was reading, I was like, "This is crap and I LOVE IT!!" So, yeah, was stuck on them for a while and no other book would do.

    I get the hangover when I've read a book on a specific subject matter - if I love/adore/want to marry it, then no other book on the same subject can live up to it, and hence, it's crap.

    Great post!

  14. I have book hangovers ALL THE TIME. I had it when I finished Harry Potter, in a major way. Seriously, I was so depressed when I finished the Harry Potter series. I also had it after Anna and the French Kiss and the Hunger Games series.

    Normally what I end up doing is spending a restless several days trying to decide what I'm going to read next (and often picking up various books, reading the first paragraph, then throwig them aside, because they're nothing compared to whatever I just finished reading), dwelling on whatever book has given me a hangover, and wondering how I am possibly supposed to move on with my life. Then after a few days, I get bored and depressed with not having anything to read, so I force myself to read something, thus forcing myself to move on. . . though my thoughts will often return to whatever amazing book I read.

    Love this post!

  15. I have that feeling from time to time as well. Sometimes, it takes a few days to move on to a new book because the characters are still with me. Most recently, I had that happen with Delirium by Lauren Oliver, which officially comes out today. I need to read it again!

    I'm absolutely with you on Mockingjay. When you said,

    "There was sacrifice and pain. I stayed up until 3:00am to finish this book on a work night, shaking the bed with sobs and snot. This book destroyed me for a good period of time."

    It felt like you were summing up all that I felt. I absolutely fell into this camp. I LOVED the final novel and don't understand the people who hated it. To me, it worked, and the novel had to go on the path it did. There was no other way. Suzanne Collins never promised an ending with a pretty bow on it. The series was always dark and gritty. Why did anyone expect the final book to be light and fluffy? It didn't build up something huge and then snuff out its flame in order to tie up the story the way a couple other major series I can think of did. I loved it!!

  16. I was DEFINITELY in a funk after Twilight and The Hunger Games ended. With Twilight it was more of me being in denial, with me screaming, "Stephenie Meyer, HOW COULD YOU DO THIS?!" Honestly, I still haven't accepted Breaking Dawn yet...The Hunger Games was different: it was a deep bittersweet feeling and even now, when I think of specific parts of the book/series, all I want to do is cry.

    Great post! I'm now convinced that I HAVE to find time to read the Wicked Lovely series. I'll be curious to see if it can invoke the same feelings in me.

  17. I can't bring myself to read the last Vampire Academy book (even though I bought it the day it came out) because this is my favorite series of all time and I can't bear for it to end. I love with all of the characters and am sure that I will be very depressed for awhile once I'm done with the series for good.

  18. I feel that way after every series. It's so depressing when you're so invested and then it's just...OVER. Fun idea for a post, though just looking at your hangover girl picture gives me a pounding sympathy headache. Ow. Drunky.

  19. Amazing post and super timely for me... I just stayed up till 2AM (had to get up at 6 for work) reading Jellicoe Road... and then definitely cried myself to sleep - now nothing else looks as appealing!

    So glad you came up with a name for this :) Makes me feel like I'm not the only one!

  20. Oh, god, this was the same as me with the Twilight series back 07. I was SOSOSOSO absorbed and invested and guh... then that awful last book came out and everything was shattered. I don't own Breaking Dawn and I don't plan on ever reading it again as I'm still scratching it out of my mind. LOL. But, I still remember more fondly than any other series how Twilight made me feel and how it got me back into reading like a maniac.

  21. I TOTALLY agree with you on The Hunger Games. I just finished Mockingjay last week and still have not recovered. My mind will forever be blown by those books.
    I jumped into the 3rd Vampire Academy book hoping that would help, and it did...til the end, which slammed into me like a ton of bricks.
    And now I am right back where I was.

    When you find a way to cure this, let me know because I have yet to find something that works.

  22. For me it was The Stand by Stephen King. I know that is not really in your normal genre but I read it for the first time in 2010 and could did not read another book for almost 4 months. That is an eternity for me. I Mourned them as if they were real. That book was so all encompassing it was like I was there with them. My favorite book of all time! Also, I am going to have to add the Wicked Lovely series to my TBR pile, you made them sound great!

  23. Yes same for me with Mockingjay (though I reread) and Darkest Mercy! When series end, you just really need grieving time!

  24. Ugh, same with Mockingjay for me. I read all three in one go, and just felt so empty after I turned the last page. ;_; But I think my worst book hangover was Harry Potter. I still cry every time I turn the last page, and just have to hold my book for a while. Sad, I know. XD

  25. I feel this way so often after reading a series (Twilight, Hunger Games of course). Sometimes characters in books just touch my heart SO much that even after one book I feel I can't let go. One of the best examples that comes to mind is Jellicoe Road. Still makes me sad that it's over!

  26. I definitely had trouble reading anything after Twilight. I just re-read them again and again for awhile. On the bright side, the more I read and thought about Breaking Dawn, the more I decided I liked it. Or at least didn't hate the ending as much.

    Like the above poster, I also had trouble reading anything after Jellicoe Road. It was just so much better than other YA. I re-read it as soon as I finished it.

  27. Definitely after Mockingjay. Loved it, didn't want it to end, and was so sad over the end.

    I will say too that I loved Twilight. It took me a while to move on from those. I still listen to the audio when I don't have anything else.

    Just had to let everyone here understand that.
    Reading hangovers,hmmm.I have read books considered womens novels including the Mockingjay
    trilogy.Actually they were read to me in the audio format.I finished it in about two weeks.They caused no reading hangover.If any book caused me to read it well into the night it was my favorite book,"Ragtime" by E.L.Doctorow who is still writing.This is a novel that uses real people we know from history and Doctorow tells their story to point out what America was about in the early 20th century.Adding the fictional story about a family living in NYC as the historical events are taking place makes for a very fast read.I really did not want to put the book away causing a real reading hangover.Ger

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