Into a Book—Heart First
Seasoned Lightly is on hiatus for a short time when Anne Michael, who is taking a break, will return to BiblioBuffet. In the meantime, we invite you to revisit some of her early pieces.
I am not a book reviewer. I have no interest in being one. That said, I do admire the style and grace of a skilled reviewer. Just how Henry Carrigan knows the perfect line to use, I’ve no idea. How Nicki Leone can carve out the quintessential description of a book without giving the plot away in the review is beyond my comprehension. What they do is sheer art. It gives me goose bumps because I cannot do it no matter how I try.
And try I did. Through grammar and junior high schools, I was required to review books even though back then they were called book reports. Picture in your mind’s eye, if you will, a painting by Pablo Picasso done in paint-by-number fashion. It would be lumpy, bumpy and definitely not in the lines. If you can picture that then you can understand just how grossly bad my book reviews were. Picasso would sue!
Don’t get me wrong. I love to read, I always have but I simply do not have the skill to analyze a book. I don’t have the interest either, but even if I did the craftsmanship would be horrible. It is sheer delight to immerse myself in a book, to get lost in the main character or in all the characters, to feel what they feel, to see what they see, and to put myself in another place or time. To me, the best testament to a good book is feeling how my spirit soars with joy or how I find myself laughing aloud by myself in the lunchroom or among strangers in the doctor’s office, or weeping because what was written affected me deeply or expressed an emotion I understand intrinsically.
Were I to write a review, I could describe the feelings the book or its characters evoked in me yet I would never be able to describe what it was about without getting lost in a field of adjectives blooming like sunflowers in summer. I would lose the point as quickly as a newly sharpened pencil, frustrating the reader. So worry not, my fellow bookies, you’ll never have to worry about getting a book review out of me.
I know I am not the only one out there who feels this way. I don’t read (and don’t have to read) a book to dissect it the way I did a frog in science class by describing its various parts. If I enjoy a book, I’ll pass it to a friend or buy a second copy to give as a gift if I like mine well enough to keep it.
Sometimes I’ll read just to relax and fill my mind with things that have nothing to do with bills or the broken washer or the latest project at the office. I read for the sheer joy of it, like taking a dip into a refreshing pool on a summer’s day. I’ll read a book that I’ve read before and enjoy its company again, especially when I am feeling lonely for a faraway friend. Sometimes I’m even so hungry for a good read, I’ll take whatever I can find and devour it with the same intensity that fresh-from-the-oven bread, slathered with creamy butter entices my stomach and tongue to gorge to excess.
Whether you find what you like to read by reading a review or whether you like to take your chances with whatever you come across (as I do) I hope you will enjoy your books. If you like the book, share it. And if you are as fond of book reports now as you were in the third grade, sit down and write a letter to an old friend, telling her about the book you’d like her to read. Because part of the pleasure of reading is to pass the pleasure on.
At age 10, Anne realized she was never going to get to be Miss America since reading a book was not an acceptable talent. So she went on to get a job and raise a family. Along the way, she fixed meals, picked up toys, helped with homework, and collected a drawer full of rejection slips for her “great American novel.” It was not all bad, however, since she ended up wallpapering a closet with them. She currently designs and creates greeting cards for her tiny company, The Frog Prints, LLC, and also works full-time as a Training Specialist. Anne is currently tethered to reality by a loving spouse, two dogs and the occasional hurricane that blows through Florida, although falling headlong and happily into a book is still her favorite “talent.” Contact Anne.