crying-womanSo it was a half hour before my husband got home from work, and I was sitting in the living room sobbing. Huge tears running down my face. You know the expression, I’m so happy I could cry?  I was. Both.

He walked in and like many men was immediately concerned and wondering what to do. When he’d left home that morning, he’d left a wife who was cheerfully reading her review book and ready to embark on a number of non-threatening chores: Go to the grocery store, return books to the library, nothing that should make someone cry.

What he didn’t know is that I’d just finished reading the review book and was feeling, no actually wallowing in the moment.

This is a luxury for a book reviewer. Finishing a book for a reviewer often means immediately writing a review and then starting to read the next book in the review pile. Pausing means thinking about what to say in the review, not usually letting the moment linger.

The “moment” is when everything comes together and a feeling of peace rains over the reader. It’s a sigh that makes the heart ache, a moment that can’t be replicated by chocolate or a good meal or even a kiss. It’s a unique reader moment when whatever chaos in the reader’s life or the world in general she is experiencing is forgotten. It’s the minutes between seconds that readers let themselves breathe.

I enjoyed my cry, and I enjoyed my husband’s hug. But they were two entirely different experiences—the cry brought on by nothing but black splotches on a white background, the hug by reality. I cried for no reason at all and for every reason. All was right in a world. And it wasn’t at all important that I didn’t actually live in that world.

The cry was my dream reaction. I cried because I was more than happy. I cried because the magic of reading had lifted me from my hum-drum life, carried me somewhere I’d never imagined before, and then gently returned me. The trip fulfilled me, made me ready to tackle any worries I had, and let me embrace my humanity.

What is your dream reaction? And how do you want the perfect book to affect you?

—Pat Henshaw

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