Book Addiction & Book Withdrawal Syndromes
An Essay by Gail Carriger
When I first found my reader tribe, those girls who shared my taste in books, we discovered a mutual suffering. A burden, if you will. A torture. We discovered that we were all prone to suffering under the curse of both book addiction and book withdrawal syndromes.
OK, OK, perhaps suffering is too strong a word. But here's the idea...
Book Addiction is when you read a book (or a series of books) and like it so much you simply start reading it all over again from the beginning. You'd rather not read any other book, but just keep reading the same one over and over forever. The only way to stop is to physically deny yourself that 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 could not stop reading that series. A dear friend confided that 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.
The other end of that spectrum is Book Withdrawal Syndrome. That's the overwhelming sensation of pensive ennui liable to hit right after finishing a really good book. I imagine book withdrawal comparable to an old-fashioned Victorian aura of insipid depression. I'm not talking about the normal sadness that the book has ended, but this weird loss of innocence sensation. It's the certain knowledge that while you will get to reread that book again, you will never again get to read it for the first time.
I've never experienced either of these sensations with movies or TV shows or any other media... only with books. And despite the suffering, I keep reading and chasing both syndromes, because it's a glorious suffering that only a good book can cause.