Books That Gave Us the Best Hangovers


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Book hangovers, though rare, present a real problem for us. Whenever you do stumble upon that sparkly rainbow unicorn of a novel that makes the angels sing and causes you to skip several meals and an unhealthy amount of sleep to finish it, the resulting buzz can leave you unable to even look another book in the eye for days, even weeks. Once you've gotten that adrenaline rush of a truly exceptional novel, everything else you consider reading either seems hollow, or your brain is still too on fire to accept a new story, and you need to just sit with the magic for a little longer. 

Getting to have this experience, and getting to hold that glittering perfection inside you forever is one of the biggest perks of being a reader. We're sure all of you can conjure up a favorite book or two that make light you up like a Christmas tree inside. These are precious experiences, and we wouldn't trade them or lower their intensity level for anything, but the come down is so deliciously brutal. A few books spring to mind when we think about our best book hangovers, the ones that left behind that beautiful, beautiful ache...



The Secret History | Donna Tartt- This is the most unbelievably atmospheric book I've ever read, and I can't find anything that quite compares. I want to go get lost in the feeling of this book over and over again, and it always leaves me yearning for more. This is one of my very favorite re-reads and it gives me a hangover EVERY TIME.


Tigana | Guy Gavriel Kay- This is a slow build, with a complex, layered plot that delivers a HUGE payoff. The kind that has you scrambling through the last 50 pages and knocks you over so completely that you can't even deal. This is my all time favorite book for a reason, friends. 


I Am I Am I Am | Maggie O'Farrell- I was SHOCKED at how much I loved this book. I sat down to read a few pages and physically could not put it down until I finished. The last chapter is a gut punch that makes the entire book make sense. Ugh, so good. This book has flitted through my mind pretty much every single day since I read it. 


Uprooted | Naomi Novik- I really love fantasy, but a lot of the run of the mill stuff bores me at this point. Imagine my surprise when Uprooted came along and delivered the page turning yet deep fantasy novel of my dreams. I've been hard pressed to find anything that quite lives up to this one since then. 


My Brilliant Friend | Elena Ferrante- What can I even say about these books? After finishing one, I have taken several months before picking up the next one to just be able to sit and muse on the layers and characters. The series is genius, and demands time to unpack and savor.


East of Eden | John Steinbeck- We both love Steinbeck, carte blanche, but this one was on a whole other level. Gorgeous, wise, layered, and atmospheric, this multi generational story has everything you could ever want, and we both had to take a step back and breathe after finishing this stunning work. You can see our literary dinner for it right here!


The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet | Becky Chambers- This book represents the best of that "cozy" feeling books can give a sci fi novel. This is the book I pick up when my brain needs a safe space to live in for a while and it is just so, so comfortable to read. I've never read anything that makes me feel so wholly and delightfully at ease. 



The Giver | Lois Lowry - This book has stuck with me since I read it for class during 7th grade. It's a small, yet powerful story that makes you see individuality in a new light and want to fight for all that's right. I've loved all of Lowry's books, but this one has remained the best.


The Graveyard Book | Neil Gaiman - I'm still surprised at times how much this book has stuck with me over the years, but man, I still find my mind creeping back into this world. It's so immersive and seemingly real, that I won't ever be able to let it go. Aaah, so good.


The Smell of Other People's Houses | Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock - On display at my library for months before I finally caved and checked it out. And oh my gosh, I'm so glad I did. Four stories are woven together to create a powerful punch to the gut. I recommend this one ALL THE TIME.


Unbroken | Laura Hillenbrand - There was a time while immersed in this book that I actually had the brief feeling of being on a B-24 with Louis Zamperini. If there was ever a man I'd love to meet after reading about him, it's Louis. Laura is no exception, her story is just as phenomenal. She's a brilliant writer.


The Bridges of Madison County | Robert James Waller - Before you wonder what the heck I'm thinking and throw me out the window, let me explain. To me, this is NOT a romance story. Not at all. This is a story of two extraordinary people leading ordinary lives. You don't come across that often in a book. I resonated with so many of the emotions and conflicts in this story. Don't judge.


Ashley's War | Gayle Tzemach Lemmon - If you ever want to feel like where you come from means something, read Ashley's story. I served in the military alongside women like her, this book motivates me to no end, and my heart breaks every time I read it. Her story will haunt me forever.


The Glass Castle | Jeannette Walls - My childhood wasn't nearly as jarring as Jeannette's, but there was definitely some overlap in our stories. Scenes from the book pop into mind and remind me the beauty of simple things again, like connecting with your children and selfless service to those you love. 


So tell us, what was the last book that gave you a hangover?