What’s there to do after you’ve just finished a great book? Sometimes it’s still too early to go to bed or can feel like it’s too late to try to do some more work. But you also can’t just simply pick up the next book. The words just don’t read right. Switching to someone else’s story doesn’t feel right either. It’s hard to get into the flow of their prose. But what else can you do but just sit there, now that the book you’re been attached to for hours is over? It seems like the feeling will last forever, but you also worry that it’ll go away soon. It’s an absence. The story is over. It ended. You can reread it, but it will never be like the first time. Well, not for a while it won’t.
This feeling of having a book hangover happened to me twice in a row recently. First with Jaqueline Susanne’s novel Valley of the Dolls. Then, the next day with David Margolick’s Strange Fruit: The Biography of a Song. Two days in a row I finished great books that left me internally speechless. I couldn’t move on. I couldn’t go back.
And, for Margolick’s book, I couldn’t get the song out of my head. It started just following me around. I had to stop reading a few times to listen to it because the book made the song to tempting. You start wanting to be reminded just how haunting the song really is. I played the song for my mother after she said she hadn’t heard it in a while. I recommended it to a guy I was talking to. I just couldn’t get it off my mind.
The ending of Susanne’s novel did the same thing the day before. I felt it physically. The cheating the coping the hiding. I was sad that that was Anne’s ending (I won’t say exactly what happened), but at the same time it’s the only ending that makes sense for her. It’s one of those books that are wrapped up nicely, but then there are fifty or so more pages to go. I wondered what was going to go wrong, and it just kept getting worse.
Getting over a book hangover really requires you to allow that awkward time to exist. I can’t rush into another book, but once I do, I have to kind of force myself to just stick with it. I have to be more patient in the first pages of the next book and just hope that it will end up giving me that same feeling all over again.
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