Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Magic of a Book Hangover

There’s no more bitter-sweet a feeling than a book hangover: the emptiness that echoes in your body after finishing a book and are jerked back into the harsh reality of the real world.

On one hand, there’s a sense of accomplishment: I did it. I finished the journey. I travelled the pages of this book, navigated between the words, lived and breathed with these characters. It’s truly like being Bilbo Baggins, arriving in the Shire after traveling with the company of dwarves. You know you will never be the same again, and there’s a sense of magic in that revelation.

But there’s also a twinge of melancholy because you know you will never be the same again; a part of you still belongs in the book world. The characters you journeyed with seem more real than your friends and family. A book hangover is like culture shock, being torn from one land into another before you were ready to say goodbye.

I can think of many occasions where a book has wrecked and ruined me for the real world, from the sporadic crying fits that wracked me for the next three days after finished Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass to the emptiness of leaving Middle-earth behind after my father read out the last words from Return of the King. And even though I’m back in the real world, I feel a small part of me remains in those books too.

And there is the sweetness: knowing a part of you stays with the magic forever. What books have given you a book hangover? Let me know in the comments!

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