I Finished Reading a Book and I’m Heartbroken–But Smiling?

Agh. I don’t know if there’s a way to summarize the overwhelming emotion that comes over me when I finish a fantastic book. I’m happy yet heartbroken, I’m satisfied yet upset, and I’m pleased yet frustrated.

Plus, I’m hungry (but that’s not something the book can take responsibility for–I guess my leftover Chipotle wasn’t enough substance for dinner this evening). Looks like I’ll be heartily digging into Halloween candy tonight.

There’s a term that the book community uses to attempt to describe the combined feeling of joy and heartache that follows finishing a phenomenal read. That term, ladies and gentlemen, is a “book hangover”.

The seconds, minutes, and hours after I finish a book that has consumed me wholeheartedly for days (or maybe just a really late evening, depending on the read) are HEART WRENCHING. For a while, I feel as though I’ve lost my balance. I’m unable to think about anything beyond that one book and any attempt to balance more than one thought in my brain is completely lost.

The best way for me to deal with a book hangover is to not dwell for very long on the perfection of one book and to dive headfirst into another.

In any instance where I don’t do this, I become way too hung up on one story. (This happened to an extreme with A Court of Mist and Fury and I have still not recovered).

However, the time spent between finishing one book and starting another is an essential time in my reading experience. It’s a time for reflection and a time where I finally sit and let what I’ve read sink in.

I don’t think we as readers allow ourselves enough of this time. It’s so important to reflect on and respond emotionally to what you read. To question it, critique it, and appreciate it and all of its beauty. So, despite the inconvenience of a book hangover, I enjoy the feeling.

Book hangovers leave me feeling content because I only get them following astounding reads. It satisfies me even knowing that I’ve experienced a book hangover before, because that means that great literature is out there. And I have found it. And I will continue to do so, eagerly anticipating my next wonderfully excruciating book hangover.


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