The Sacrificial Lamb Book

You might call it something different but you KNOW the feeling.

You just read one of the BEST BOOKS OF YOUR LIFE. You are high on those feelings. You are tweeting incessantly and telling anyone who will listen…just BASKING in those OMG HOW HAVE I LIVED MY LIFE WITHOUT THIS BOOK feelings.

And then you realize you have to pick your next book…at some point.

You know you have a book hangover. And you know whatever you read MORE THAN LIKELY is not going to live up to what you just read (if it does, you might implode I think). In a lot of cases that next book might be really awesome but it’s not THAT book that you just read. It ends up paling in comparison even when we aren’t TRYING to be like this.

THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB BOOK. That is what I have dubbed it for the past couple years.

I don’t have a definition for it but essentially in my mind it is the book in which you pretty much are sacrificing to be the next book after A BEST BOOK EVER kind of book. There HAS to be a next book. You can’t ride on the book hangover forever. So you have to choose one book to be offered to the book gods for the greater good of your reading life. A book that unfortunately might not end well because of your crazy high expectations from your last book.

IT IS THE WORST. I can’t even look in the eyes of my books when I go about selecting the sacrificial lamb book KNOWING how it might end. I try to be strategic about it.

Basically my strategy is:

1. Pick something SOOOO different than what I just read. So if it was a contemporary I might pick a crazy fast paced thriller or fantasy or something.

2. Pick a book that wasn’t necessarily one I was SUPER looking forward to: If I already HAVE high expectations of it? I don’t want anything else to affect the reading experience. So I’ll try to pick up a review book that wasn’t SUPER high on my priority list or pick out a random book from the library I’ve never heard of.

3. Try not to cry: No but really. No matter how HARD I try not to let my book hangover from THE BEST BOOK EVER affect my next read…it’s SO hard for it not to. Sometimes I get lucky and my sacrificial lamb book turns out giving me pretty strong feelings and it isn’t affected by it but so often it really DOES affect my next read or two.

So what about you guys? Do you ever experience this “sacrificial lamb book”? Also, do you have a different name you use for it? What’s your strategy when picking out your next book after a reading experience like that??
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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. LOL I’M DYING WITH THIS, I know these kinds of books but never had put a name to it! I loved your first strategy of changing the gender, I never really though much about the sacrificial lamb books but I think I’ll try it next time!

  2. Hmmm I wonder if re-reading a book would do the trick. You already know you like the book so you aren’t really going to be super disappointed by it!

  3. Yes! I’ve never had a name for it, but I use a similar strategy. I definitely pick something very different, even a non-fiction book that I just want to learn something from and don’t expect to enjoy in even remotely the same way. Sometimes I’ll just spend a couple of days not reading anything because I don’t want to ruin a perfectly good book because of my high expectations.

  4. Yes!! Thus happened to me most recently after reading The Winner’s Crime (of course), and I couldn’t read anything for a week. I ended up just listening to an audiobook and something totally different (Rites of Passage) and it helped. Sometimes I’ll listen to an old favorite, like Seven Realms (READ THEM!) and that works too. Mostly I just sit there staring at the wal, rocking back and forth, thinking I’ll never find another book to love again. Hahaha.

  5. I always feel so bad starting that book after the best book ever! I love your name for it..I’ve called it my ‘rebound book’ I try the same-to pick something very different.

  6. I call mine the Rebound Book. After I finished Isla and the Happily Ever After something had to be next and unfortunately after getting out of that “emotional relationship” of the world of Stephanie Perkins, the Rebound Book just wasn’t enough for me.

  7. Oh my gosh, yes! I never really had a name for it, but I like your sacrificial lamb turn. I’m going to start calling it that. I do the same as you, try to pick a book that is completely different. Normally if it’s contemporary I go fantasy next or vice versa. But still, even doing that, that next book is always going to be somewhat of a disappointment.

  8. Hahaha, I LOVE this. It’s totally a sacrificial lamb.

    I have the exact same strategy – I like to go with something totally different; often a genre or age switch really helps. I also throw in re-reading, as another person said – then you’re never really disappointed because you know what happens. I did this right after reading I’ll Give You The Sun – I can actually track my listlessness by my Goodreads attempts to read other things…finally I just re-read the entire Harry Potter series. =P

    Great post – you’re hilarious – “I can’t even look my books in the eye” – it’s true. Sometimes I just avoid my bookshelf for a few days. =p

  9. I never had a name for it but I definitely find myself following that strategy of picking something wildly different from the “best book ever!!” so that I will find them harder to compare at least. It’s definitely no easy task picking the book after the really really awesome book. It makes it that much more depressing to finish a really great book knowing that regardless of its quality the poor next book will *seem* like a dud in comparison.

  10. I do tend to read books outside of my preferred genre to only help spark my reading again. Switching it up a little really does help.

  11. Oh my goodness this happens to me SO much. Recently with Attachments. I LOVED that book so much. It gave me so many feelings and emotions and it was the WORST book hangover to recover from. I secretly think that I just recently recovered from it. I tried to bounce back with another Rainbow Rowell book, and though I really liked Landline I feel like I didn’t love it as much because it was after what I felt was one of the best books I read. I think I need to adopt your first strategy for sure. I tend to pick a book that is similar to the one I just read because I think that I NEED to feel that feeling again. It’s like I tend to forget that books in other genres could also give me that feeling. I also make the mistake of picking something I’ve been super excited for. Stupid, stupid mistake. Clearly I just like to torture myself and wreck perfectly good books. Thankfully the Throne of Glass series got me out of this recent book hangover. But then there’s the Heir of Fire hangover…

  12. These are excellent points! I don’t usually pick something completely different though, such is the downfall of doing themed months on my blog. But that may be part of my problem as to why I unfairly judge a book after I loved the previous book. If anything I feel like I try to do the opposite. I try to find something that I am excited about because then I keep excitement high. But then I sometimes crash even harder. Like I followed Heir of Fire with The Raven Boys but a review book after that made me want to Hulk Smash and it was hard to come back out of that valley of sad!

    I think my way to avoid book hangovers is to start the next book right away. I try really hard not to stay up late to finish a book because then I won’t be able to start something else and stewing on the book, especially if I love it, only leads to the book hangover. But maybe I will try this “sacrificial lamb book” out! Thanks for the idea. Great post!

  13. This totally just happened to me. After I finished I WAS HERE (Gayle, why do you do this to me???) I would not pick up a book for the rest of the day. The next day I picked up another contemporary (I’m so stupid), when I should’ve gone with something totally different. Thankfully, my unhappiness only lasted a few chapters, because the next book I picked up wound up being good too. But yes, I am a total believer in the sacrificial lamb book.

  14. I’m there right now. I read We Were Liars..which was life flippin changing. It was an emotional ride that i am still recovering from. I am not TRYING to read Enders by Lissa Price, but I am not that into it. It sucks.

  15. OMG I am going through that RIGHT NOW! I read Revival by King yesterday and now I am afraid to read anything.

  16. I call them palate cleansers. Usually after a really great book or one that was really emotional/heavy, I’ll read a light Harlequin romance or a cozy mystery. Not highbrow, but I still enjoy them!

  17. Well now I guess I have a name for this too πŸ˜› I had to to do the same thing when I finished Allegiant earlier this year – I went on a two month contemporary binge. Kind of a strong reaction, but the hangover was SO BIG that I had to avoid any and all sci-fi or fantasy.

    Switching genres seems to work the best for me. If I read one that I’m only “kind of” looking forward too, I’ll end up having no patience for it and probably DNFing. I can’t handle mediocrity when I just read THE BEST BOOK EVER, haha.

  18. After I read a super good I book I pretty much always read a contemporary romance because A. I don’t read many of those and B. They don’t seemed to be affected as much by the sacrificial lamb thing? I don’t totally know why, but it works for me.

  19. I haven’t given much thought to this, but I was kind of curious about how I rate my sacrificial lamb books. It seems I either follow a 5 star book with something below average (2 or 2.5 stars) or I get super lucky and get two awesome books in a row (part of this is I like to read AWESOME series books back to back). I am not really sure how I pick the next book after a good one. I tend to want to read something exactly like it so I like to go on series or author binges. Earlier this year I got such a bad hangover, I just reread the same book I’d just finished (but that’s never happened before or since). Not a good solution to the problem other than for my favorite writers to write unlimited awesome books. Not too much to ask or anything.

  20. The Book Hanover. I hate them and love them all at the same time. I have been going through the worst book slump THIS YEAR to date! I don’t know if it’s because I know I’m so close to my goal that I feel like slacking or if it’s because I’ve been so awfully busy with moving and work. I will get over it I hope! I just have to read 9 more books!

  21. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever really put into words this problem. But as I read what you wrote here, I realized that’s exactly what it is – a problem. A major one too. I wonder how often it happens though that you get back to back wins with books. I mean, I primarily use the library so when I finish one, I pick up the next one on my stack and I can’t really recall any time when I’ve absolutely gone 2 for 2 but it’s bound to happen sometime, right?

  22. I know exactly what you mean.

    First, I wait forever to start another book, because I know there’s no way it’ll even compare.

    Then, if the book of amazingness is huge, I go out looking for fanfiction online. This is nearly never as good as the original, but it means more time with the characters, so Yay!

    Then I finally give in and start another book, one eye closed, and brace myself for disappointment.

  23. So glad I have something to call this book now! πŸ™‚

  24. I am actually so thankful I stumbled across your blog at the start of this year. You make me realise that I am not crazy, but am actually completely normal (right!?)
    I have recently experienced the biggest book hangover thanks to Station Eleven NOTHING has lived up to it, I loved that book (and ranted about that book) way too much…I went through a book slump, picked up three different books that I couldn’t finish because they weren’t satisfying me. I finally picked up ‘Fragile Things’ by Neil Gaiman (one of my all time favourite authors)…it’s a book of short stories, so I figured I couldn’t compare too much, but it really did experience the wrath of book hangover…despite being by Neil Gaiman I didn’t love it, buuut I finished it, and it has helped me through this tough time πŸ˜‰

  25. This is the worst bookish feeling. I just finished Crown of Midnight and then I didn’t want to read anything else because I just knew it wouldn’t be as good and so I just had to pick something to get me out of the Chaol Daze I was in. I went for Jodi Lynn Anderson’s Tiger Lily and I’m not really loving it. I picked it because I figured as a kids book it would be super different from Crown of Midnight so I could read it quick and not compare the two. Sadly I still don’t really like it. I guess I could have moved on to Heir of Fire but it just felt too soon. I love your name for it though, I might adopt it.

  26. Oooh I totally know the feeling! After I finished reading The Fault in Our Stars I started reading The Perks of Being A Wallflower, which everyone was raving about. I liked it, but I didn’t think it was *that* good, probably because of what I read before that. Maybe I should try reading it again… πŸ™‚

  27. I don’t necessarily go through this with books, but I remember powering through all seven (at that point) series of Supernatural so that I could finally watch episodes live and, like, crying and feeling so sad and just wanting to lie in bed and wallow (which I did) – I couldn’t even fathom starting a new series so I put it off by catching up on my DVR’d shows. Only then, when I’d fully decompressed from being totally invested in a series, could I think about starting something new.

    However! I know that you read at a much faster pace than I do, so I would suggest not only reading a different genre but possibly thinking about mixing in a non-fiction book after something that just, like, MADE YOU FEEL ALL THE FEELS. No matter what you read, non-fiction is just so different from fiction that you don’t even think about comparing the two.

  28. I totally understand how you feel on this! I (like other commenters) have this issue with TV shows as well as books. However, with books, if I read something amazing and worry that nothing will measure up, I’ll usually go to something I KNOW can hold up – so, a re-read. A lot of times, this is Harry Potter, but a lot of times I choose other stuff (Gayle Foreman books, the Graceling books, etc.) Books I know I’ll always love and usually I choose a favorite of a different genre so I don’t have a lot of room for comparison. πŸ™‚

  29. I’ve definitely experienced this before but I’ve never had a name for it. Sometimes my solution is to just reread the book I just finished, lol.

  30. YOU FINALLY GAVE IT A NAME. This is totally a thing I go through! After I read a bunch of other raving reviews that agree with what I think of the book (but say it way better) and then recommend it to all my friends I’m kind of at a loss cause it’s not like I can just pick up another book…
    You have good tips although what usually happens is that I don’t read for while to keep that euphoric feeling.

    • I think we need to petition for this to be the official name!! πŸ˜› Haha I like your process bc I do the same. Read other reviews and nod and say YES ABSOLUTELY like a madwoman (I’ve been prone to tear up if they say something super eloquent). and then start book pushing like it is my job (Why can’t it be my job!!?)

      Yeah, I also tend to take a little break for a day or two!


  1. […] Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner talks about the next book that she reads after one that wrecks her; she calls itΒ The Sacrificial Lamb Book […]

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