Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Post Book Depression - A Survival Guide

Post Book Depression, PBD, is real and troubling syndrome that affects tens of thousands of people each day. Are you suffering from this debilitating condition? Read on to discover the stages of PBD and how to speed up recovery.


The problem with an excellent book is that it inevitably invokes the law of diminishing returns. When you’ve read a great book, one that drags you into its world, wraps you tight in its confines and leaves you utterly breathless and enthralled, your next book, no matter how intriguing, will fall flat. If you do happen to stumble across another fantastic book immediately after finishing the first, the Post Book Depression will be even worse when you finish the second. You have been taken to the the peak of a glorious mountain and now you are going to plummet.

PBD has several stages. Stage 1 begins before you’ve even finished the inciting book. When you are three quarters of the way through you begin to notice that the end is nigh. You are giddy with excitement at finishing the story and finding out how it all ends, but dread begins to tighten your stomach as well. Like the incline leading to the top of a roller coaster, it’s both thrilling and disturbingly scary.

Stage 2 occurs the moment you finish the book. Euphoria, grief, nostalgia, the pressing need to tell ALL your friends about this book immediately get together in your chest and throw a party. Grief, sneaky bastard that he is, will sabotage the party in short order and you can feel his creeping influence already.

Stage 3 begins when the party ends. This is the first moment you truly realize the book is over. You’ve read, you’ve conquered, you’ve been forever changed and now all of that is gone. You are aimless and dissatisfied, the magic of the book still lingering, but it’s like the smell of cake wafting after you when you’ve left the bakery — enticing and delicious but you know you’re not getting cake any time soon. Stage 3 is marked by the listless perusing of to-read lists, eliciting book recommendations from friends, hunting through bookshelves for a new read and generally trying to find something, anything that will satisfy.

Stage 4 is hiding inside the pages of the first book you pick up following PBD. It can take a perfectly nice book and turn it into unsatisfying drivel. The book may be well written, tightly plotted and, in ordinary circumstances, one you’d really enjoy. But in the throws of PBD all enjoyment is lost. This book just can’t measure up. It doesn’t have the amazing characters, the gorgeous scenes the fantastic plotting that made your last book so unforgettable. This book is just a book and so it becomes like eating plain toast after large slice of the best chocolate cake, bland and instantly forgotten.
Stage 5, recovery, is variable. It may take one book or it may take a half dozen, but eventually, eased by the lull of new words, you get back to your normal equilibrium and can once again enjoy random books.

If you’ve ever suffered from PBD you know how distressing it can be. There are a few tricks you can use to get to stage 5 more quickly, however.

First, when you realize you’re reading a truly excellent book, begin planning ahead. As soon as you finish the book write a review, even if it’s just for yourself to look back on later, detailing all the reasons you truly loved this book. This allows you to enjoy the euphoria a little longer and it helps get stage 2 under way with a bang.

Second, seek out friends who have also read the book and talk about it with them. You can share your enthusiasm for the book and get support from other PBD sufferers at the same time. You might even get some different perspectives on the book and get to enjoy it in an entirely different way. A good book discussion can do wonders to help find closure.

Third, ease back into reading with an old favorite. Rather than trying to find a new book that will leave you as breathlessly happy as the last, find a familiar book and curl up for a good read. It’s best if this book is in a completely different genre so you’re not tempted to compare. A favorite book is like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket. It’s expected and comforting and it will help build a buffer between new books you read and the fantastic book you just finished.

Finally, go forth and discover. Find new books and dive back into reading. Try something new, perhaps a genre you’ve been curious about and never tried before. And most importantly, share with as many people as possible how much you loved that first incredible book. Because while PBD may suck, think how amazing it felt when you began the story.  Sharing that with someone else is a wonderful gift for both of you. We are all ambassadors for the books we love.

1 comment:

  1. oh my gosh. I thought i was the only person who felt like this. I just feel sooooo much depression when i finish a good book or movie. Just finished a great movie/book series and I literally am so depressed.

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