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I’m an Emotional Eater, I Mean, Reader

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I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m terrible at book reviews.

Sure I can read and locate the strengths and weaknesses in a piece of bound writing, but I mean more specifically that I’m completely untrustworthy.

For a while now I’ve been a part of Goodreads, a site that sends out nice, tidy emails full of book reviews from friends(and strangers).  I think I review 1 out of every 20 books I read.  Disadvantage one of adding me to your Goodreads team.

Around a year ago my mom mentioned she’d picked up a cooking memoir from Borders, based on my review.  I thought hard, I remembered the particular book, and then thought despairingly that it was probably the last book on my list I would have picked for her.

Another dear friend keeps reading books from my list and I cringe with each one, thinking, “Did I really like that one a lot? Would I ever read it again? Surely I would never pick any of those for her.”

Completely unreliable, that’s me.

Is it just that I’m so in love with the sound of myself as a composer of words that I make these reviews up for the sake of my own enjoyment, discarding truth for a better ebb and flow?

I pondered that one for a few days.

It was then that I realized my true diagnosis: emotional reader.

The cookbook memoir came into my life just after I began enjoying food after a five month alien baby pregnancy sickness, at the time I cared much less about the author’s personal life(affairs, shallowness, other sordid details) than her rapturous descriptions of entrees.

And in dark, more painful moments I vacillate between two extremes. During the first weeks of my Dad’s mental illness I read the entire Little House on the Prairie series, an antithesis of my own situation.  In other difficult seasons I’ve found solace(escape) in children’s science fiction and books like The Thirteenth Tale-a rather twisted story, dark keeping company with dark.  Most of the books that fall into the latter category were fitting and comfortable only for the briefest moment.

“I was really surprised you liked that book,” my friend and voracious consumer of books mentioned about my review of Wicked.  Was it a four(or five) star book in my review?  It’s only in context later that I remember again the five months of nausea that only paused for sleep(of which there was little), the me shaped cushions that now belonged on our couch while the kids expected normal things like food and water.  Wicked came in the middle of those months and dark as the book may be it was extremely light in my head because it wasn’t my life!  Since then it’s sat on the shelf and I haven’t had any desire to pick it up again.

That’s it, I’m an emotional, completely untrustworthy girl with a lot of opinions about books.  So I’ve pondered what books remain even when the drama in my life settles down?  What stays on my shelf past all of the trips to sell at the used bookstore?  A precious handful.

Non-fiction and fiction by Madeleine L’Engle, Tolkein, Jane Eyre, Gone with the Wind, and the most modern on the list, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

Their mine, excuses and apology free.

You might like them, but I wouldn’t take my word for it.

As to anything else I recommend, you might ask me what mood I was in before you try it.

2 comments

2 Comments so far

  1. Shannon AKA WordGirl January 1st, 2011 5:56 pm

    Yet another way that we are different. Or am I an emotional reader, too? Not sure. But I do think there’s a lot to be said for the right book at the right time… That said, I’ll keep writing reviews because they let me process what I thought and felt about the book before moving on to the next one.

  2. aimee January 1st, 2011 10:18 pm

    Well I say the “emotional reader” rather tongue and cheek. I don’t plan to change anything about my reading, or finding the book for the right season, I just think it was a good revelation to see how my emotional state plays into how I feel and relate to the book and it’s good to know before reviewing a book-maybe I can work on distancing a bit before I give a full appraisal.

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