What's a book hangover? 3 Ways to get Over a Book Hangover

Woman with a sleep mask on her forehead looks tired against a pink background.

Yes, it’s true, you can get a book hangover! Have you ever found yourself wandering around aimlessly after finishing a fantastic novel? That abrupt feeling of being back in the real world without your latest friends and all the intrigue that has followed them can be rather disconcerting! It’s as if you can’t shake off the aftereffects of the story. Well, that’s called a book hangover and most avid readers experience it at one time or another.

On the upside, it shows how wonderful books are and the incredible impact they have on both our minds and emotions. But don’t stress, sit back, relax, and get ready—there is a cure! Here are our three ways to help you get over your book hangover!

Understanding the Book Hangover

What is a Book Hangover?

A book hangover happens when you finish a book that leaves such a strong impact on you that you find it hard to start reading something new, or if you’re really suffering, return to your daily routine. It can be characterized by a combination of longing, sadness, and in those severe cases, disorientation—it is as if you're mentally still living in the world created by the author. You might even catch yourself still thinking about the fate of the characters and the story's implications long after you have turned the last page.

The Symptoms

Just like anything in life, there are a few telltale signs that you need to be on the lookout for. These can include those persistent ongoing thoughts about the story—you just can’t seem to get it out of your mind. You may even struggle to start a new book and for some of you, that may be a first! Then there are the feelings of being emotionally drained and if you’re like us, we’ve even dreamt about the book.

Everyone’s book hangover may be slightly different, but we are all suffering from the same thing—we have become emotionally invested in the narrative and it is hard to let go!


Let’s have a look at the causes and to be honest, they can be due to a multitude of things. Perhaps it was the beautifully crafted narrative. Or maybe the relatable characters caught you and no one likes giving up their new best friends! For some of us, it can be put down to the immersive world-building—you just don’t want to leave! And then probably the most common cause is because the story resonated with us so deeply. But this is all the sign of a great book and its ability to connect with us on a deeper level, so much so that it has left a lasting impression.

Overcoming Book Hangover

While a book hangover is a sign of a great reading experience, you can’t linger too long in its grip. Here are three effective ways to overcome a book hangover:

Smiling woman with a book on her head and eyes closed in a meditative pose.

Tip 1: Give Yourself Time to Reflect

Embrace the Hangover

We recommend that initially, you simply allow yourself to fully experience the emotions and thoughts provoked by the book. Take the time to reflect on why the story impacted you deeply. Was it the characters, the themes, or perhaps the narrative style? We have found that understanding our emotional journey or connection with a particular book can provide closure while at the same time even enriching our reading experience.


Journaling is a great way to take those first steps forward! We have found that writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a therapeutic way to process the story and your reaction to it. You are bound to find that journaling will help your mind close this chapter in your reading journey!

Woman with stylish binoculars looking into the distance, holding a book.

Tip 2: Explore Related Content

Author's Other Works

Sometimes we fall in love with an author’s style. It can be the way they weave the story into our hearts, the way the characters develop and grow, and for some of us, it’s a new captivating world that we want to experience more. One of the easiest ways of transitioning gradually out of our book hangover can be to explore more of their works. It is so much better than just an abrupt end!

Fan Discussions and Reviews

Talking to others is often the best form of therapy. Just think of those fabulous girls' lunches which are so therapeutic. You may even find your fellow book club members are experiencing the exact same thing. You might all need that much-needed break accompanied by a great cup of coffee or glass of wine.

Another fabulous option is to meet up with other like-minded readers through forums or social media platforms (we have a fantastic Facebook community). Sharing your insights and hearing other people’s interpretations is the ideal way to not only deepen your understanding of the book but also help you move on.

Bookshelf adorned with hanging heart decorations in various colors.

Tip 3: Diversify Your Reading

Shift Genres

Sometimes we just need to go cold turkey! Reading a book of a completely different genre works well for a lot of people and it is the only way you will avoid those direct comparisons. We have found that when you read something similar to the book you are struggling to get over, those inevitable comparisons are bound to crop up and often they just don’t make the cut. If you've just finished a heavy historical drama, perhaps a romance or a mystery like The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James could be the answer!

Short Stories or Anthologies

Sometimes, diving into another lengthy novel might seem far too overwhelming and that’s when short stories or anthologies are the perfect alternative. We love reading short stories when we’re feeling drained—they definitely require less commitment and are brilliant in allowing you to slowly ease back into reading without the pressure of jumping into another deep novel.

Additional Tips for Avoiding Book Hangovers

While experiencing a book hangover is often inevitable, there are ways to manage the intensity!

Set Expectations

Be mindful of your emotional investment in a book. While losing yourself in a story is wonderful, maintaining a slight emotional distance can help mitigate the aftereffects. But that is often easier said than done.

Plan Your Reads

Planning your reading works super well. There is something about having your next book lined up before finishing the current one. We find it provides a sense of continuity and purpose, making the transition smoother. Our book subscription box is the perfect book hangover cure—you will love the anticipation and excitement of receiving your next box featuring the latest novel and those surprise gifts that bring any book to life!

Artist's desk with paintbrushes, a palette, and a wooden horse sculpture.

Balance Reading with Other Activities

Life is all about balance and that goes for reading as well. Why not try a new hobby, organize a craft day, or just take some time out and binge-watch the latest series?


We think Paul Sweeney captured it perfectly when he said, "You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend."

A book hangover is a bittersweet tribute to the power of books and their ability to move and affect us deeply. Remember, the goal isn't to avoid these profound connections with stories but to manage their impact on our lives!

The best thing about books is there are so many of them and there is always another one waiting to capture our hearts—sometimes we just need to breathe in between them! Wishing you a speedy recovery from all of us at Once Upon a Book Club!

PS: If you find yourself struggling to finish your latest read, make sure to check out our blog, Why do i struggle to finish books?

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