A Reading Hangover: The Day After a Reading Binge


Have you ever gotten one of these? I call it a “reading hangover”, although, luckily, the symptoms aren’t anything at all like a regular hangover.

Early yesterday afternoon, I opened up Sujata Massey’s Girl in a Box, which I’d started reading the previous night.

Time passed, and before I knew it, I’d finished the book. And without thinking, I reached, almost automatically, for the next book in my stack: Kelley Armstrong’s Exit Strategy.

I took a break to eat dinner, and then another break to put my son Dylan to bed. As soon as we finished with our reading (three picture books and Otteline at Sea, by Chris Riddell – a lovely, fun read), my husband took over (they make plays with the stuffed animals and record them on his iPhone) and I went right back to Nadia Stafford’s adventures in Exit Strategy.

I couldn’t tear myself away from the book; I read until 2:00 in the morning.

So this morning, as usually happens after I indulge in a reading binge, I woke up with a reading hangover.

What happens when I’m in such a state?

The world feels very dreamlike. Nothing seems very real, or maybe it’s more that I feel unreal myself. I’m not sure which. Perhaps surreal is the word I’m looking for.

It’s a strange feeling, and it can last for a while.

When I’m coping with a reading hangover, I do things I don’t normally do. Today, for example, I spent more than FIVE HOURS on Twitter. When life feels surreal, yes, I go directly to Twitter. (I do like to spend time on Twitter, but not normally five hours straight – in case you were wondering.)

Nothing else gets done. I didn’t even feel like finishing Exit Strategy.

Luckily, the hangover does eventually fade.

Of course, as soon as it faded, I grabbed Exit Strategy (I was about halfway done last night). And yes, I just finished it.

And now I’m writing this post so I won’t grab the next in the series, Made to Be Broken; I could, very easily, since it’s just sitting in the next room, waiting for me.

But I’m exercising restraint. Surreal is okay every once in a while; I wouldn’t like a daily diet of it.

Since it’s always nice to be able to blame these things on other people, I will now lay the blame on Jill, at Rhapsody in Books, whose review of Made to Be Broken was the reason why I ended up with Exit Strategy and Made to be Broken in the first place.

And I was going to lay the blame for Girl in a Box at Bernadette’s feet (Reactions to Reading); I could have sworn I remembered the Rei Shimura series as a result of one of her excellent and comprehensive, themed blog posts, like J is for Justice, but it appears my memory’s a bit rusty these days. So, to whoever you are (and I commented on the post in question, so there’s a record!), you wrote an enticing blog post which made me look up the Rei Shimura mysteries, so yes, you too are to blame.

See? It wasn’t my fault I went on a reading binge and then suffered a reading hangover.

I feel much better about the whole thing already.

Do you ever go on reading binges? And do you ever get these reading hangovers after going on a reading binge?

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18 thoughts on “A Reading Hangover: The Day After a Reading Binge

  1. jules

    I just read Something Blue, Emily Giffin, yesterday too. It felt like I’d just picked it up when, like you, before i knew it I’d turned the last page. The motivation was that I’d had it out on loan (and repeat) from the library, and it’s due back today.

    Sounds like fun, especially that dream-state :-)

    1. Belle

      It would be fun, if I could shake off the guilt! (That’s where it’s really similar to a regular hangover!)

  2. rhapsodyinbooks

    I actually went out and got Exit Strategy and started it today, because I have been thinking about Made to Be Broken, and liked it enough to read the first even though it will be reading it BACKWARDS! :–)

    1. Belle

      I actually read the Kindle sample of Made to Be Broken first, Jill – I downloaded it right after I read your review (see your influence on me??). I enjoyed the sample, and then when I went to the library the other day, both the books were in. I was going to read Made to Be Broken first, because I’d already started it! But then I decided to start Exit Strategy instead. Good, fun read.

        1. Belle

          I’d start it tonight, but I actually convinced Ward to read it (I think he’s reading it right now).

          The sample of Made to Be Broken was really good – I didn’t feel the same way about Exit Strategy after the first few chapters as I did after reading the sample – and I meant to buy it in Kindle format right then and there, but didn’t, and then next day saw it at the library! So I’ll probably enjoy it even more than Exit Strategy. Now I’m really looking forward to reading it!

  3. Vasilly

    It’s been such a long time since I’ve had a reading hangover but I know exactly what you’re talking about. I do expect to get a reading hangover during the read-a-thon. 😉

  4. Bernadette

    I have experienced a few reading hangovers myself and usually end mine by watching DVDs or – if the weather is good – going for a long walk. But I’m glad I wasn’t responsible for this one (though that does sound like a good book).

  5. Meg

    I get the worst reading hangovers when I’ve stayed up late to finish a book (around 2 a.m.-ish), gotten so amped up by the ending and then immediately started another novel. Since I didn’t give myself a break or, you know, actually try to sleep, I wake up feeling groggy and disoriented — and usually feel like I’m still “in” the books!

  6. Deborah

    No, not reading hangovers like that – but when I’m deep into the writing of a book, I do have the feeling in the evenings that it is just as real as normal life. There’s definitely a sense of parallel universe.

  7. Bonnie

    Oh my, a reading hangover! That explains everything last weekend! I did indeed experience a reading hangover on Sunday from a day and late, late night of reading on Saturday. Thanks for the insight!

  8. eowyn

    I’ve just finished a six day/8 book (one author) reading binge, and the hangover is here. It’s definitely a dream like state. I’m floating, but in a rather dispirited way.

  9. A

    Oh my gosh! This has happened to me my entire life. When I was little it was Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High (library only a block away) and as I’ve grown up it’s changed (kindle now). My mom used to have to force me to stop reading because I would get all–well I would say “wigged out”–but surreal is really the right word. Like a walking zombie. (My husband’s comment: no, mummy, because zombies eat people). I think my case is worse than yours, though. I will read an entire book even if it’s a weeknight and it takes until 5 a.m. because I am so swallowed up in it. (Regardless of the fact that I have work tomorrow.) If I get a chance to take a nap later, it’s not usually satisfying, or I have weird dreams. My books of choice are usually dystopian love stories or paranormal action/love stories, (ok well every book I read is a love story of some type). You would think this was funny if you knew how much school I’ve been through and what my job is — maybe I should be reading something intelligent and thought-provoking, but I go for the escapist romances all the time. I found this post by googling “reading hangover” because I wanted to know if I was the only one. I wish there was a support group for this!


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