I don’t drink very often, and it’s been well over a decade since I drank so heavily that I even felt the slightest hint of a hangover, but that doesn’t mean I don’t remember. I won’t get into details, but lets just say there was a lot of red velvet cupcakes and Midori Sours and and it took me many years to want to have either again.
Books, on the other hand, have left me feeling hungover many times since my 23rd birthday. As far as I’m concerned there are two types of literary hangovers- there’s the good ones that leave you feeling weary at heart, but changed for the better. The ones that alter your perspective and weigh on your thoughts for weeks afterward.
Then there’s the books that give you a splitting headache. The ones that leave you slightly ill. The ones that make you cry out in anguish and hurl them against the wall.
Let’s take a look at both, starting with the good, and ending with the bad.
Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you by That Artsy Reader Girl.
(Apparently Urban Dictionary has a definition for the term “book hangover”, ignore this)
Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir: A tense story, followed by an explosive final battle and concluded with a bittersweet ending is absolutely a recipe for a book hangover. I felt drained after finishing this, but also glowing, like I had just run a mile after being forced to stay in a small, dark room for days on end. My full review can be found here.
The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern: I never wanted this story to end, but all good things must do so at some point, and The Night Circus left me concerned for the fate of it’s characters (as well as the titular circus) until the last handful of pages. The mystery of The Competition and how Marco and Celia chose to deal with it was fascinating, even as the effects of their struggle ripple outward and begin to unravel the lives of those around them, as well as their own. I’ve never wanted to be able to step inside a book more than I did with this one, and it left me feeling as though the real world was a flat, grey scale mimicry of the one I had just closed the pages on.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things, by Patrick Rothfuss: Not only did this change how I felt about Auri and the entire King Killer universe, it changed how I looked at myself and the world. It was surreal seeing myself reflected so brightly back from the pages, reading entire pages that made sense in a way that is very specific to people who are… well…
“She felt the panic rising in her then. She knew. She knew how quickly things could break. You did the things you could. You tended to the world for the world’s sake. You hoped you would be safe. But still she knew. It could come crashing down and there was nothing you could do. And yes, she knew she wasn’t right. She knew her everything was canted wrong. She knew her head was all unkilter. She knew she wasn’t true inside. She knew.”
I know too.
My full review can be found here.
Tempests and Slaughter, by Tamora Pierce: How many years? How many years Tamora?! Or should I be pointing my steel eyed gaze at your editors and publishers, who apparently dictate what you write and when you write it? Sure I enjoyed the Magic Circle series when I was young, but now I’ve tried rereading it and I realize that besides Daja and Briar there’s really not a lot going for me there. You know what I do care about? Numair. AKA Arram. AKA I give me the sequel to this so I can stop feeling hungover every time I look at my book shelf. My full review can be found here.
Red, White and Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston: Ignoring the complete lack of an Oxford Comma, this book left me hungover in a way that has more in common with crashing after eating too much cake. Your laughing and excited and happy one hour, then the next you realize that the world isn’t a frosting covered party made of funfetti and gay boys and you’re being forced to interact with it. Disappointment is the most real hangover of adulthood. My full review can be found here.
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, by Natasha Pulley: Ugh. AARGH. This book hurt me so bad I couldn’t even finish it. The historical inaccuracies, the out of place dialogue, the stereotypical cast, all of it combined to make me give up at 100 pages. There was no tension, no compelling story to carry you forward. The characters were either flat and grey or completely insufferable, and as far as I can tell, there’s no reason for anyone to even interact with each other. A beautiful cover wasted on boring book.
Amberlough, by Lara Elena Donnelly: While I managed to drag myself to the end of this story, I did not enjoy it. What I thought was going to a be a glamorous and seductive spy thriller turned out to be a conflagration of suicide, betrayal, alcoholism, physical abuse, and manipulation. There was no one I could cheer for, nothing to look forward to, and it became so much like Nazi occupied Paris that I began to doubt I was reading a work of fantsy-fiction at all. Another book I finished with a massive headache that ibuprofen simply had no effect on.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow: More aptly named the Four and a Half Doors of Indecision; a cast of cardboard characters going through more and more predictable motions and take a very long time to do absolutely nothing. Think you’re signing up for a portal fantasy? Think again, my friends, because what you’re really signing up for is a slog thought a murky bog of self harm, classicism, and racism, riddled with historical inaccuracies and abuse of the Italian language. You can read my full review here.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, by MacKenzie Lee: I should have been warned off by this Anikan Skywalker lookalike on the cover. But the lady working at the book store had so much love for this book and it had a promise of boys going on adventures and falling in love, so of course I took the plunge and bought it. Gods only knows how I managed to finish this, as being constantly stuck in the main characters head was also being stuck in the company of an entitled, selfish, ignorant white boy who didn’t deserve the friends he had. Add that to a long list of other problems; unbelievable plot devices, a poorly realized antagonist, an awkward and painfully developed romance, and glaring historical inaccuracies, just to name a few. This is probably the most disappointing book I’ve ever read. And considering I used to read Anne Rice, that’s saying a lot. You can read my full review here.