366 Days of Writing · Discussions · Original Posts · Reflection

Day 112: Recovery: The Importance of Book Hangovers

Today I’d like to take a moment to talk about a perhaps unsold moment we all experience as bookworms: recovery from a really, really good book. We all have them- these are books that stay with us; they permeate the fabric of our hearts, leaving stains and rips and tears. It’s hard to pick up another book when you’re trying to get past the kinds of feelings such a book creates.

Many books have given me this feeling. The best way to describe how I experience a ‘book hangover’ is a kind of restlessness. No other book can hold my attention. I spend a lot of time on tumblr frantically searching for any kind of fandom. If it’s a series, I’m desperately looking for the next book or postulating wild theories about the events to come. I do tons of re-reading. I’ll reread sometimes the entire book, or just my favorite scenes. In series sometimes I go back and reread the whole series. I think rereads let a reader find new clues and details that enrich overall enjoyment of a series. I love to see the little foreshadowing moments or character development moments with a bit of retrospective. Creating a playlist of music to help relive those moments is always fun too.

Regardless of how we experience and handle these feelings,  I think it may be even more important to discuss why we have them in the first place. What are we searching for, exactly? The answer here is deceptively simple: we want stories that matter. Now, matter is a relative term, and not just because we each pull different meanings from every story. Each of us is also looking for a different meaning, and what we’re looking for varies based on what we need in our lives. I personally love themes involving family bonds between friends and epic good vs. evil struggles. Any story with a cast of characters in a squad that’s totally loyal to each other is going to suck me right in and not let me go. Why? These kinds of connections are among my greatest values in life. I believe absolutely in utmost importance of that type of love and pray to find it in my own life. Those stories matter to me. Some themes are common to people in general, like love or revenge, but others are more culturally or individually resonant.

Themes are the great secret to truly great writing, the kind that leaves your heart pounding long after you’ve turned the final page. As a writer, I aspire more than anything to write stories that will one day leave someone somewhere scouring the Internet for someone who understands, for fan art, for a playlist, for anything. It would be the greatest gift to render these ideas beautifully.

So, the next time you’ve got a book hangover, stop and think: what about this book spoke to me? Why is this an important story? Maybe you’ll learn something about yourself, too!

If you’re interested in further discussion of these ideas, check out these posts:

8 Tips for Developing a Strong Theme for Your Novel

Challenging Writers to Create Stories With Meaning

Both were written by the wonderful Hannah Heath, a blogger on her own and contributor at Constant Collectible. I may expand on this idea in future posts, so if there’s a particular aspect you would like me to address, tell me in the comments!

Okay, your turn! How do you get over a book hangover? What books give you book hangover? Which themes speak to you in literature?

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