Have you ever suffered from Post-Literature Mood syndrome? I have!Maybe it is just me, but every time I read fiction that is very engaging I get in the mood of the story for as far as a WEEK after...

Have you ever suffered from Post-Literature Mood syndrome? I have!

Maybe it is just me, but every time I read fiction that is very engaging I get in the mood of the story for as far as a WEEK after reading it! When I read The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton and then The Awakening, I could not stop connecting myself to it and feeling almost as dreadful as Lily Bart and Edna Pontellier. If I read Animal Farm I get on war mode. I may need help. That's why I ask you if you ever experience such intense emotions with literature.

Expert Answers
creativethinking eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I actually became literally depressed during an intense period of my undergrad study because I was reading so many (AMAZING) depressing books. Among them: Beloved, The Art Lover, The Handmaid's Tale, The Things They Carried, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Ariel, The Year of Magical Thinking, Shame of the Nation. It was literally having an affecting effect on my real life mood. I would just read and read and cry my eyes out! ...And then write about how incredible these authors were to write the things that they did. But, man, was that emotionally strenuous! War, injustice, suicide, grief, terrorism, AIDS, poverty, abuse... You start to lose your faith in humanity when you consider all of these realities deeply and simultaneously.

Your Appleness, I don't think you need help. I think this phenomenon is a product of two things. (1) Savvy, sensitive reading. Good readers can enter the emotional world of the characters within a book and connect it to their own joy or pain. You are clearly one of these people! (2) Magnificent writing. It can squeeze blood from a stone. If someone were able to read the list I mentioned above and jog off, smiling, as happy as a clam, I'd argue that it's THAT guy who truly needs help. Great literature can and should make us feel, and make us want to change and participate in our world!

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The reality is that when we immerse ourselves in something like literature, especially that which is expertly written, we create new brain dendrite pathways and synapse neuro-connectors. Thus we start to dream the thing we are exposing ourselves to, then begin to feel the thing we are exposing ourselves to. Further, thanks to Dr. Peter Kramer's research and book, Against Depression, we know (1) the mechanism of negative depressive feelings and that (2) they represent organic pathology. It is no laughing matter that negative books affect us negatively and the affect is far from merely subjective--it is objective. [Ever wonder why the moral and spiritual condition of the world has continually declined at an alarming rate since the changes in direction in philosophy and art following World War II?] Similarly, positive books perform the same brain/dendrite/synapse function but with the opposite affect. The remedy, if one is wanted, to the affect of negative literature, is to stop every 15 minutes and read something funny! By this interruption, you will circumvent the dendrite/synapse process and build a whole different set of dendrites and synapses that will be beneficial and afford your some sort of protection, as it were, from the purely negative affect: you'll be synthesizing the harmful with the beneficial.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Emily Dickinson wrote "There is no frigate like a book/ To take us lands away" and she was so right.  There is a sentimental and regretful parting always as the reader finishes the last page of a novel and returns to the quotidien.  Indeed, it is the memory of a friend or friends that readers carry in spirit after reading great literature.  Who can forget poor Tess of Hardy's Tess of the d'Ubervilles or Catherine and Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights?

Readers are always the richer for having joined into the world of literary characters.  Moved greatly at times, the reader carries them in his/heart long afterward.  Some novels even move people to taking action in their own lives--or not.  "I won't think about that today.  I'll think about that tomorrow." (Scarlett O'Hara of Gone With the Wind)

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I sympathize completely, having also experienced the syndrome (and by the way, I love the diagnosis title)!

For me, the most "dangerous" books to read are travel narratives or stories set in other parts of the world; I am guaranteed to have the atlas out shortly thereafter, dreaming of all the places I would like to visit but probably will never see. It doesn't even need to be all pleasant company, beautiful scenery and comfortable accommodations for me to get wanderlust. As educators, any of you who have similar cravings and have not yet read "Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace With Education in Afghanistan and Pakistan" by Greg Mortenson need to do so sometime this summer! What an inspiring effort!!!

larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think anyone who enjoys and becomes truly engaged in a work of fiction becomes part of it for a time afterward. It's like the memory of how delicious a good meal tasted; you enjoy it even after the fact. I felt the same way after reading A Separate Peace many years ago; and after reading Hawaii by James Michener, I found myself humming Aloha Oe for weeks. I think it is an indication of the effectiveness of the novel when one can become so engaged that one becomes part of the novel for a time afterwards. I think that is one reason I always look for a long novel (at least 400 pages) I know that way I can "live in it" a while longer. If it's a syndrome, it's one I'll gladly own.

Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think your description of "Post-Literature Mood Syndrome" is the reason why I only "like" literature with lots of happiness in it (not that I don't appreciate Faulkner and Joyce).  Not to say said literature needs to have a happy ending, per se.  It doesn't.

In short, yes, I experience the same phenomenon.

Here is my example:  The Great Gastby. (Big surprise.)  I ADORE getting swept up in chapter 3, ... the recklessness of the Roaring Twenties.  I love teaching the Charleston, ... I love DANCING the Charleston.  I could remain in that "pre-crash" mood forever!

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hurrah to all of us who immerse ourselves to (almost) drowning in a book! I find I have to keep more than one text on the go if there is going to be too much angst. I have Othello (again!) The Adoration of Jenna Fox, The Hunger Games and Death of a Salesman rotating at teh moment. On reflection, not a particularly uplifting combination but the variety stops me sobbing in the bath (no thanks to Jodi Picoult and Susan Hill in my last selection). I love the intensity of fiction, or in fact any good writing, that grips me so its almost physical!

clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes!  I know exactly how this feels.  It is that feeling that you can't stop reading, but you don't want the book to end.  I feel that way whenever I can identify directly with the author.  It seems like it has been a while since I've read a book that had me feeling this way, but Gone With the Wind was definitely one such book for me.  I also got that feeling with Middlesex.  I just couldn't get the main character, Cal, out of my head.  Holden Caulfield frequently brings me into his angst as well.

whatever1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I read Animal Farm shortly after 9/11 and found so many correlations between the corrupt actions of the Bush administration and the pigs' corruption of the principles of Animalism that I was gripped by a sense of outrage and disillusionment.  I was driven into a creative maelstrom by Orwell's masterpiece, writing scathing songs and poetry criticizing the Bush administration, but utilizing the characters of Animal farm as an allegory, much like Orwell used his characters to criticize Communism.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I was actually glad I am not the only one! There have been times when I have finished a book, and turned back to the first page and started over again immediately. Sometimes I do that because I really love the book, and sometimes because I feel like I have a better grasp of it and will get more out of it the second time. I feel sad when I finish a good book. Usually, I combat this by reading another book by the same author. It helps, but it's really frustrating when there are no others to read!
scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I certainly have experienced those same emotions. As others have said, if I am reading a particularly poignant and interesting book, I am often a little depressed after completing it and wish that I had slowed down a little in my pace.

If a work is extremely moving such as Of Mice and Men or Othello, it does not matter how many times I have read or taught it, I still take a couple of days to get over the angst I feel for the tragic fates of the work's characters.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You should have seen me after reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy! Not a pretty sight! I think that books that have the power to engage us, and in particular books that resonate with our particular situation are definitely going to impact our moods and emotions. That is one of the things I love about reading personally, because I know that while the novel lasts, I am going to be impacted by it personally and the fate of the characters become incredibly important to me.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I feel your pain as well. Sometimes I actually slow down my reading of a particularly enthralling novel just to stretch out the enjoyment and anticipation for a few more days. I was so glad that I had waited to read Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner until just several years ago; when I finished it, at least I was able to run out and buy A Thousand Splendid Suns to continue the mood.

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I read all 7 of the Harry Potter novels back to back and was in such mourning for those characters and their world that I literally couldn't read anything else. I am an avid reader, but it took me weeks before I could really engage in another novel.  It still makes me sad that there is no more new Harry Potter!

ocean | Student


In my opinion it is a good feature of literary works to engross the readers both in pain or joy. When I read a novel I feel that I'm living with the characters, and it really is a trip for me. When I read Around The World In Eighty Days I did not want it to be finished I still wanted to be in those situations and when I read Tess of the d'Urbervilles I sympathized for Tess. I think it is very natural for human beings to feel like this.


ocean | Student

In my opinion it is a good feature of literary works to engross the readers both in pain or joy. When I read a novel I feel that I'm living with the characters, and it really is a trip for me. When I read Around The World In Eighty Days I did not want it to be finished I still wanted to be in those situations and when I read Tess of the d'Urbervilles I sympathized for Tess. I think it is very natural for human beings to feel like this.