In case you had any doubts, there is such a thing as a book hangover. Some people may have a different definition of it, but here’s how I see it.
When I was in junior high and high school I dove head first into novels. For the time I spent reading a book, I immersed myself in the fictionalized world created by the author. I would have my nose stuck between the pages as I walked the halls from class to class, during an entire study hall period, on the bus ride home, and even during class time (I got called out by my teachers on more than one occasion…). I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning sometimes just to finish a book I couldn’t bear to put down. Bookstores were my safe haven, a tranquil space where I was surrounded by possibility, a place to find a new world to dive into, away from the hurt and petty drama of the real world.
My obsession with stories and characters always lasted beyond the novel. When my brain finished processing the last phrase, I was still stuck in that world, wondering what would happen to the characters after those last words, what they, or the other characters around them, might become in the wake of what happened to them in the novel.
But isn’t that the beauty of a story? We can get a devastatingly beautiful description of humanity in realistic fiction, an amazing portrait of the possibilities of creativity in fantasy, real pieces of the past weaved into imagined lives in historical fiction… The list goes on. But we only get out of the story what the author allows us to know. They allow us to infer, assume, and wonder – to use our own imaginations to fill in the blanks.
So, yes, novels have endings. We read that concluding paragraph and close the book, but there is always more to the story.
And that, my friends, is where a book hangover comes from.
What is the last book that left you to wonder beyond its conclusion?