How To

7 Cures for Your Book Hangover

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Emma Nichols

Staff Writer

Emma Nichols is a career bookseller. Though she expected to grow up to be a librarian, or a witch, she's quite happy with how things are working out. Officially, she specializes in children's books and manages their book fairs; unofficially, she is passionate about short stories and spreadsheets. When not evangelizing her favorite books to unsuspecting customers, she can be heard discussing books and bookselling on her podcast Drunk Booksellers. Her other hobbies include organizing her books, taking pictures of her cat, and binge-re-watching her favorite TV shows. Blog: The Bibliot Twitter: @thebibliot

A friend of mine recently finished Uprooted by Naomi Novik, which I’d given her for her birthday. She texted me after finishing the book, delighted but also bereft at its end—not because she was unsatisfied with it, but because she was utterly taken with it. She mourned the book and worried over what to read next—what wouldn’t pale in comparison?

Ah. Classic book hangover. And, as it was my fault she was experiencing such bookish anguish, I feel it’s my duty to give her (and readers like her) some tips for overcoming the awesome but dreaded book hangover.

  1. Hair of the dog: re-read a book you already love (my go-to is The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Cat Valente; it’s fairly short and my love for it grows with every read).
  • Go the opposite direction and watch some excellent TV/movies—again, something you know you’ll enjoy to keep those good vibes going (I tend towards funnier TV shows like Community, Gilmore Girls, and Adventure Time; for movies, my go-to rewatch is Pride & Prejudice [the one with Keira Knightly. Siiiiiigh]).
  • If the book was a novel, read comics or a graphic novel. This new format will engage totally different parts of your brain (right? because pictures…) while still being intensely engaging (I recommend Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, Lumberjanes, and Saga). Panels writer Andi Miller has comic recs for getting over a book slump (which can be caused by a book hangover) and there are many other recs to be found in what the Panelteers are currently reading.
  • Ask a bookseller or librarian to recommend a few of their favorites—most of us have go-to recommendations that probably gave us our own book hangovers. Don’t tell them what you like first; to cure a book hangover you may need to step out of your own wheelhouse and into someone else’s (currently I’m recommending Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood, The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove, and Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link).
  • Not near a bookstore or library? Ask the internet! Bookish twitter is one of my favorite places to find book recs, and Book Riot has a handy list of Rioters on Twitter that I’m sure would be happy to recommend you one or two or five books.
  • Read a little bit of a lot of books, say the first chapter or just the first page, until something sticks.
  • Take a break. Go for a walk, go to the bar with some friends, play pinball, whatever. Sometimes you just need to let that book grab hold of you and not let go for a little while. Embrace the hangover; you just read an amazing book. Just appreciate it for a bit.

    And hey, you’re not alone. This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about book hangovers, and it won’t be the last. There’s even a whole Dear Book Nerd episode dedicated to the problem. And I’d love to hear what all ya’ll have done to get over your book hangovers (and what books have caused them)!