Top 5 Books that Caused a Major Hangover

It’s Tuesday, so it’s time for another Top 5 post! Thanks again to Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm for the topics.

We all know what a book hangover is. It’s the emotional devastation that sets in after you’ve read a particularly good book, when you realize it’s all over and you can never experience it again for the first time. It’s the inability to function the next day after you’ve spent the whole night devouring the book. It’s the physical pain of having to choose another book to read because you’re afraid nothing will compare to what you’ve just read.

It’s both the worst and best feeling in the world, if you’re one of those readers that look for complete emotional devastation and mild functional impairment in their reading experience.

Recently, though, I realized that I don’t get to experience this as much anymore, but that I’m likely to get hangovers from series. So, in this post, I included both series and individual books (also because I can’t choose just any one book in the series – that’s not cheating, is it?). Anywaaay, let’s get right to it.

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

I know this was published like, two decades ago, and the hype went up again about a decade ago, but then again, I’m unfortunately quite oblivious to hypes. So when I binged this series in the span of a week last 2018, I had no one to spazz about it with – and the one person I could spazz about it with could barely remember any of the details. Oh, well.

I really should have read it sooner, though, because practically everything about this book appealed to me – the hybrid steampunk-fantasy world, the theological elements (isn’t this like a retelling of Adam and Eve? Bible fanfiction, anyone?), parallel universes!, armored polar bears!, DÆMONS!, and so on. (Sorry, I just put exclamation points on everything while explaining nothing, but I’m hoping my enthusiasm can substitute for actual plot, since it’s terribly difficult to explain. Besides, I’m sure everyone but my grandma already knows what those are.)

In short, this was really more of a “where have you been all my life” sort of series, and one I’m sure to reread again in the future.

The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

This is one of those rare series that actually gets better with each book. Also, it’s a LOT less girly and romantic than the covers would have you believe. It’s off to a bit of a rocky start with the first book, though, because it revolves around the budding romance between a rich girl and her slave. (Yes, it’s as problematic as it sounds.) But towards the end of the first book, an uprising happens, and the power relations shift between the protagonists, especially when they find themselves in the middle of a war. This raises the question of whether romance is possible in the first place between people who aren’t equals, and the tension of this is further explored in the next two books.

That being said, there’s hardly any romance in The Winner’s Crime and The Winner’s Kiss, but they were astonishingly well-plotted, with each side deliberate in their choice of strategies. Kestrel, the female lead, is cool and clever and has a knack for strategy and mind games; Arin is more emotional, but has an unwavering sense of justice; and neither will back down from their side. All this angst makes the resolution in the third book very rewarding, even as I suffered from the fact that it ended. I read interviews with Marie Rutkoski for days afterwards, and I will read anything she writes after this series. In short, if you’re a YA fantasy fan, READ IT. You’ll loose a few days’ worth of sleep, but you won’t regret it.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway

I absolutely LOVED whole “dark fairytale” vibe in this one, which inclined me to forgive its criminally short length and the rushed world-building. The story is premised on the idea that there are portals to parallel universes that children can enter, but unfortunately not all of them can stay forever, and find that they have to come back to the real world – our world – where they have to learn to adjust to this new reality again, without knowing whether or not another portal to their world will appear. The longing of these children to return to their world is so palpable, and it’s emotion at the heart of the entire story. Also, it features a ragtag bunch of weird kids who become friends and stick together, which is one of my favorite tropes.

Luckily, this book is the first in a series called Wayward Children, and I am SO glad that I have four other novellas to devour before I have to say goodbye to it. Now, on to the next one…

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle

This was the book that made me fall in love with Murakami. It’s always hard to explain what his novels are about, but basically, this starts out with your basic everyman Murakami hero, Toru Okada, trying to find his wife’s cat. From there, weird things start to happen, and the next thing you know, you’re wading in a dream-like world that’s a strange amalgam of the present and the past, and Toru’s history and the fraught history of Japan as a nation. After reading this book, I literally had dreams that featured the house and the yard of the protagonist. I guess that was my unconscious’s way of coping with the hangover.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

I don’t know how to explain my attraction to this novel – I’ve read this at least thrice now – and it’s just as lovely each time. There is a surgical precision and detachment to Kundera’s writing, since he comments on his characters rather than letting us immerse ourselves in their experiences, but he makes sharp and beautiful observations about love, and about the political realities of the Soviet occupation in Prague. After reading this, I always feel like a beautiful sort of sadness descending on me. It’s different from the usual sort of book hangover I experience, but I consider it a hangover just the same.

Topics for Top 5 Tuesdays this February

That’s it for this post! What books gave you a major hangover? Let me know in the comments!


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