Top Ten Tuesday: Book Hangovers

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Previous Top Ten Tuesday Topics:


  • February 18: The Last Ten Books That Gave Me a Book Hangover (submitted by Deanna @ A Novel Glimpse)
  • February 25: Characters I’d Follow On Social Media (submitted by Tilly @thebiblioshelf)
  • March 3: Books With Single-Word Titles (submitted by Kitty from Kitty Marie’s Reading Corner)
  • March 10: Authors Who Have a Fun Social Media Presence
  • March 17: Spring 2020 TBR (or whichever season it is where you live)
  • March 24: Genre Freebie 

Ah the book hangover. They don’t happen often but when they do…! That feeling of disorientation and disconnect when that book comes to an end, the grief that you’re having to leave that fictional world, the gut-wrenching disappointment that the next book you pick up just isn’t the same

Pet, Akwaeke Emezi

Oh goodness, this was so good: such a compelling main character in Jam, an utterly convincing world, a wonderfully monstrous hunter in Pet – dragging itself from a picture into three dimensional corporeality through blood, moonlight and the scent of the hunt!

And, oh, the revelation of who the monster being hunted was!

The Starless Sea, Erin Morgenstern

I could have chosen this or the previous The Night Circus – God! I want to, need to read that again! Because Morgenstern is so wonderful at atmosphere and location: the circus and nor the underground library and repository of all the world’s stories.

Absolutely wonderful!

The beauty of her language and imagery where stories live on in food and drink, in clothes and shrouds is so compellingly gorgeous!

Blood Wedding, Pierre Lemaître

With Blood Wedding, it was the characters rather than the setting and world building that caused the book hangover: the flight of the apparent sociopath Sophie was gripping enough, but the revelation that all was not as it seemed and the stomach-wrenching twist – the terrifying incredible relentless pursuit of Sophie – was heart-racing, heart-stopping…

And the final chapters where we never knew who was playing whom… oh!

Deeplight, Frances Hardinge

Anything by Hardinge causes a book hangover for me: her mastery of the vivid compelling in depth world is exceptional. And Deeplight took us from the historical fantasy of Cuckoo Song, The Lie Tree and A Skinful of Shadows into a fully realised Lovecraftian fantasy world of monstrous gods beneath seas, now reduced to mere relics, and a sea punk aesthetic….

How hard to come back to the real world once you’ve visited this one?

Lanny, Max Porter

Being a village lad myself, with a penchant for the fairytale in his reading, Lanny was a perfect storm of all I love!

Dead Papa Toothwort, the personification of or genius loci of the village – or perhaps the Puckish hobgoblin of the village – bore echoes of every green man figure you might have ever come across: Herne the Hunter, Puck, Robin Goodfellow… and any number of created characters in the stories I make up for my daughter.

And, golly, Porter is so good at voices: the voices of the village, disembodied, mundane and lyrical, are done so wonderfully!

The Winternight Trilogy, Katherine Arden

This is one of my favourite fantasy series – as much as anything because it eschews the tired familiarity of Medieval Western European setting for a Russian mythology.

Set in a distant village, the daughter of the local boyar is caught between her nurse’s traditional fairytale and legends of ancient myths on one hand, and her Christian stepmother on the other. A world that is not quite Christianised in its heart, but does not quite remember or respect the ancient pagan ways.

Which turns out to be pretty important as two of those pagan mythological gods, the brothers Medved and Morozko, bring their conflict to Vasya’s doorstep.

An utterly compelling world and characters is introduced to us in The Bear and the Nightingale and is resolved wonderfully in The Winter of the Witch.

Life After Life, Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson appears on many of these lists, but she is such a great writer!

Life After Life creates an idyllic – and terribly English – home for the Todd family, weaving a wonderful tapestry of characters into its pages as we approach the horrors of World War Two.

And then twists it with a fantasy idea: the Ursula Todd we first meet dies in childbirth on her first incarnation, but survives her own birth in later iterations only to die repeatedly and be reborn on the same snow stormy night. Despite the numerous trials she puts Ursula through – and there are many! – the writing is humane, tender and gorgeous.

The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker

The Trojan War and The Iliad – the most masculine bastion of all masculine books and dripping with testosterone – is retold from Briseis’ point of view, giving a voice to the women that Homer silenced through it.

The language is beautiful and the depiction of the Greek war camps is simultaneously lyrical and brutal. But the characters leap out bright with new life: I have known Patroclus and Achilles since I was sixteen, but after reading this novel I felt I knew them.

Normal People, Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne’s one-and-off relationship – co-dependent and deeply troubled – is the core of the novel.

Whilst I found their relationship deeply uncomfortable to read in many places, there is no denying the power of Rooney’s writing and the vividness of her characters. From school into young adulthood, Connell and Marianne meet, date, split up, become friends, date other people, and get back together again repeatedy.

Rooney is so good, though, at writing relationships and however unhealthy their relationship was, it was utterly compellingly written.

Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel

Okay. I am cheating here: this is not one of my most recent book hangovers. But is was one of my biggest book hangovers ever!

And 2020 is a bitter sweet year! Sweet, because we only have a few weeks left before the next chance to visit Tudor England in company with Thomas Cromwell; bitter, because The Mirror and The Light will conclude the trilogy.

A little like The Silence of the Girls, Wolf Hall lets you really know the characters you have read about so many times.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about these books more than I enjoyed experiencing the hangovers! Let me know which books affected you in the same way!

Again, a David Mitchell book is an event, and a thing of beauty! But the music industry is not my natural setting and again I was caught between this and another book – Daisy Jones and the Six in this case – and Daisy Jones was read first. This time, because it was nominated on a book club I was part of.

Bonus: The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch

They say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. They say he’s part man, part myth, and mostly street-corner rumor. And they are wrong on every count.

Only averagely tall, slender, and god-awful with a sword, Locke Lamora is the fabled Thorn, and the greatest weapons at his disposal are his wit and cunning. He steals from the rich – they’re the only ones worth stealing from – but the poor can go steal for themselves. What Locke cons, wheedles and tricks into his possession is strictly for him and his band of fellow con-artists and thieves: the Gentleman Bastards.

This one has been on my TBR for years. Literally years. I have heard nothing but praise for it, but so far have never quite got around to reading it! Go figure!

So, there we go: a range of books that I got in 2020 – save for the Scott Lynch – and do regret not reading during the year. Is regret the right word? Probably not to be honest: I do not regret the reading that I did do last year at all. But these are books that I would like to find time to catch up with this year – before prize season hits us again!

Pop in the comments below your thoughts on these – maybe let me know which I should read first!

18 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Book Hangovers”

  1. So many of these books looks so good and quite a few of them are on my TBR too. Excited to see them on this list 😀 I had Normal People on my list for this week’s prompt as well. That book has continued to haunt my mind in regular intervals ever since I read it last year 😂 Such an emotionally hard hitting book for me. Great list!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I keep seeing The Starless Sea today. It’s making me want to pick that one back up. I tried listening to it and got so lost, I gave up. I think I need to pick up a physical copy and read it now.

    Liked by 1 person

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