Book Addiction & Book Withdrawal Syndromes AKA Book Hangover

Imagine, Gentle Reader, a young Gail, sort of Sophronia-like, with a predilection for Goth wear (but too cheerful a personality to carry it off).

Imagine, her as an avid reader bonding with other readers and developing the following philosophical concepts:

Book Addiction Syndrome

Book Addiction is when you read a book, or a series of books, and like them so much you simply just start reading the same thing all over again from the beginning.

You’d rather not read any other books but just keep reading the same ones over and over again. The only way to stop is to physically deny yourself the book of addiction.

This happened to me with the Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce. For several months around age 11 or so, sometime after the last book in the series was released, I just could not stop reading that series over and over again. My dear friend Phrannish once told me this happened to her with Anne Rice. To this day if I pick up Alanna I have to finish the entire series, no stopping, no pause, start to finish.

I’m wondering if the is an age thing. It came up in conversation recently with a friend who has a daughter reader about the age I was when this first occurred.

Book Withdrawal Syndrome

The other end of that spectrum is Book Withdrawal Syndrome. I’ve seen this also called Book Hangover.


For me it’s the sensation after you have finished a book or a series of a sort of pensive ennui. Almost an old fashioned Victorian insipid depression like The Sorrows of Young Werther.

I’m not talking about the normal sadness that the book has ended, but this weird almost loss of childhood feeling. The certain knowledge that while you will get to reread that book again you will never get to read it for the first time again.

I still get this one from time to time. When I find a new book I really love.

I never experience either of these sensations with movies or TV shows or any other media really, just books.

The Psychology of a Book Hangover

{Gail’s monthly read along for September 2015 is Court of Fives by Kate Elliott}


Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Sneaky Octopus Tricks Prey Into Thinking It’s Behind Them

Book News:
Braine of  TalkSupeBlog says:

“I hope you get my gist, I love this series and I find WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY an amazing addition to the series and a pivotal one at that. To reiterate, Finishing School’s strongest suit right now is it’s development in general, the characters are growing up as well as the tone and feel of the stories.”


Quote of the Day:

“She’s not very ladylike.”
“I don’t think that is necessarily a character flaw. Some of the most disagreeable people I know are the most ladylike.”

~ Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott and Sophronia Temminnick Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

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Posted by Gail Carriger

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  1. Deense said:

    Yes! Both of these. I think the Night Circus was a recentish book withdrawl for me. That I couldn't read it over for the first time left me strangely bereft. How would I experience that wonder again.

    As for addiction… Hero and the Sword and the Blue Crown did that to me for years. And

  2. nonie said:

    Yes, here too! I still remember the horrors of book withdrawals after reading back to back a. Proulx's Shipwreck News and Odaatje's The English Patient. I was disatisfied with everything after for a few months. Also S.Hamilton's The Lock Artist.

  3. Karen said:

    Oh yes. That sorrow can be strong. I experienced it strongly after finishing Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen Mystery series.

  4. K-Dee said:

    As a young pre-teen I found the book the Outsiders lent itself to Book Addiction quite well. I remember finishing the last line only to turn back to the front and rereading it more than once in a single day.

  5. Fractal said:

    The first time Book Addiction hit me was actually with the Parasol Protectorate books. Thank God you had finished the series by the time I found it, so I could just cycle through all five.

    I have Book Withdrawal much more often. I get to a place where I don't want to read anything else because I savor the melancholy for a while. I had it with The Night Circus, and Anathem, and several of Wodehouse's stories, just to name the recent ones.

  6. Valerie Hernandez said:

    Oh yes! A Well-Timed Enchantment by Vivian Vande Velde and the Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke are both addicting and the cause of book withdrawal for me!

  7. Unknown said:

    All the time. Years ago while in a terrible relationship books were my escape. Problem is behavior you use for survival in a bad situation can be difficult to change when you are out. I still "fell into" books, not caring about the world around me. I had to quit cold turkey for a year which sucked as I had been an avid reader from childhood. Now I can manage it but still get depressed when I finish a great book. Linesman and Vision in Silver were the last two.

  8. Susan Pola Staples said:

    Yes, I am afflicted with Book Addiction, of which I am so glad. The authors who cause this are Tamora Pierce in ALL her Tortall books, Gail Carriger, Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar, Elizabeth Peters and other authors. I like nothing better to reread a series from the beginning when the next book is out.

  9. Wheelingalong said:

    I totally get the book addiction thing. I think the first series I did this for was the Kate Daniels series when I was in my early teens & I got stuck every time a new book came out in the series. I hadn't done it in a while but recently I listened to the audiobooks of 'A series of the others' by Anne Bishop & I listened to them on a loop for weeks….

  10. Kevin Tanner said:

    Major book withdrawal was after Philip Pullman's Northern Lights trilogy, just magical writing
    Addiction is trying to find all of Robert Rankins novels!

  11. Anony said:

    My first book addiction was also around age 11, with Little Woman. It evidently was so bad my mom got worried and hid my copy of the book in a closet to keep me from reading it a 5th time. More recently, I've found the Parasol Protectorate and Miss Fisher mysteries to be very book-addicting. And the wrist book withdrawal I've had is with Tamora Pierce's Wild Magic series and The Lord of the Rings – the days my first readings of those ended were very sad ones.

  12. Corinne said:

    Very very much so. I think reading Pat Wrede's Dealing with Dragons in elementary school was the first time I felt book withdrawal, and then imagine my delight a few years later when I found Talking with Dragons at the library, and then discovered the two middle books! It was actually rather delightful to read Talking with Dragons not having read Searching or Calling, because it was as much a mystery to me as it was to Daystar! All of Tamora Pierces books start the addiction/withdrawal cycle for me. If I pick up Alanna to re-read (for the what, 20th time?) I have to go through all three quartets and the Trickster duo, and then I start suffering from withdrawal and have to then go immediately to the Circle books and read all of them as well. I'm in the midst of some serious addiction with Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings books. I'm reading them for the first time, in the middle of the second set of Fitz books. I don't ever want to stop reading, which is not making me well rested, a good parent, or at all productive on my dissertation or job applications. And there are so many more to read after (which is both wonderful and terrible because I'm never ever going to finish this dissertation). I've read the Parasol books about 6 times all the way through, but although I'm always left wanting more (which has resulted in finding some other lovely books to read) I'm usually not terribly depressed. I cannot stop between Changeless and Blameless though. I had just had a baby the first time I read Changeless and I was just sitting up in the middle of the night sobbing while nursing because Alexia was pregnant and alone and her husband didn't believe her, and then I couldn't go back to sleep after I finished, because I had to immediately buy Blameless for my kindle app to make sure it ended up okay. And it took the whole book to make it okay!!!!!!

  13. Rawnaeris Lcee said:

    I get book addiction each time I start a new series. I can't not finish every book that's available as fast as possible. As far as "I must reread these" that's really only happened with the Dresden files and the Kingkiller chronicles, though I tend to skip around in the latter.

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