What’s Your Dream Reaction?

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

20 Responses to “What’s Your Dream Reaction?”

  1. DabneyAAR says:

    Now we are all dying to know–what was the book?

  2. louiseaar says:

    I second that!! What was the book? :) You can’t leave us hanging this way!

  3. WendyL says:

    My favorites make me sigh and, with tears in my eyes, hug the book to my chest.

    Me three. What’s your book?

  4. Katja says:

    My favourite books are the ones that stay with me, where I have problem resurfacing to the real world. Whether they make me cry or have me loughing out loud or just lead to a contented sigh is actually secondary. As long as they’re more real to me than reality …
    oh yes, and I fourth the motion: What was the book

  5. Pamela says:

    No kidding, what was the book?

  6. Tracy says:

    The Book Thief did that for me. Soooo now your turn.

  7. TrishJ says:

    When I immediately want to open the book and read it again. I want to stay in their world longer. And yeah .. what was the book?????

  8. leslie says:

    I remember sobbing my heart out after finishing “Simply Love” by Mary Balogh. It was such an emotional journey, so beautifully touching.
    What were you reading?

  9. Eggletina says:

    I’m not a crier, but I love language, especially when it has a flow or rhythm to it. My favorite books have a current. I dive in and am carried away in the flow. I savor each and every word and have no desire to rush to the end of my destination.

  10. Elaine C. says:

    I read “Maisie Dobbs” by Jacqueline Winspear two weeks ago and cried in several parts. It was a “mystery”, but more deeply felt than most romances I’ve read. I wondered why I hadn’t read it before, as it had been in my TBR shelves for more than two years and had been recommended by dear friends. AAR reviewed it in 2011 and rated it a “Desert Island Keeper”.
    After finishing it, I not only wanted to read it again, I wanted my husband to read it and I wanted to read the rest of the books in the series. I’ve gotten the second already. While this book spans from 1910 to 1929 and Maisie was a nurse at the front in France, there are no horrific war scenes. The focus is kept on the people in the war theatre. I can’t imagine ever forgetting this moving story.

    • maggie b. says:

      Elaine C.: I read “Maisie Dobbs” by Jacqueline Winspear two weeks ago and cried in several parts. It was a “mystery”, but more deeply felt than most romances I’ve read. I wondered why I hadn’t read it before, as it had been in my TBR shelves for more than two years and had been recommended by dear friends. AAR reviewed it in 2011 and rated it a “Desert Island Keeper”.
      After finishing it, I not only wanted to read it again, I wanted my husband to read it and I wanted to read the rest of the books in the series. I’ve gotten the second already. While this book spans from 1910 to 1929 and Maisie was a nurse at the front in France, there are no horrific war scenes. The focus is kept on the people in the war theatre. I can’t imagine ever forgetting this moving story.

      I read the entire series in one weekend. I would read one, order another for my kindle and so on. They are great books. Loved the newest one.

  11. willaful says:

    I also sigh and hug the book. Sadly, then I often say, “they just don’t write them like that any more.”

  12. nicole1000 says:

    My dream reaction is to have a huge smile when I am done and then immediately start the book again (or at least the highlights). I love it when I really am excited about the ending (i.e. the couple getting together; a twist that really worked in the end) and don’t start immediately thinking about another book I want to read. When i finish a book happy for the couple or loving what the author did with the book, i know i had a great read.

  13. bungluna says:

    My dream reaction is to immediately start the book again. Then I glom the author, if it’s someone new to me. If I have their back list, I go back and re-read their work. Then I rush to my computer to find a kindred soul who will squee about the great experience I’ve just had with me.

  14. Beautifully said! It sounds like you read as much as I do, and every book I read begins with the hope that I’ll experience such extreme satisfaction at the end. And when I do, I’m desolate that I don’t get to spend more time with those characters with whom I’ve become so unexpectedly involved. Oh no, it’s the last page! I treasure each read on many levels, but when a book attains that time-stopping moment, the smile certainly lingers.

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  16. Eliza says:

    I too am a literal sigher and a metaphorical book hugger. The kind of book that evokes those reactions usually coincides with an author’s talent at creating visuals and images that stay with me, which in turn call forth my original love of the book and its characters for a long time afterwards.

    I also second what Eggletina said (as I often find myself doing):
    “I’m not a crier, but I love language, especially when it has a flow or rhythm to it. My favorite books have a current. I dive in and am carried away in the flow. I savor each and every word and have no desire to rush to the end of my destination.”

  17. leslie says:

    Pat!!!! What is the book!!!!!

  18. CJ says:

    Pat! The book!!!!! I would also love to know what book made you sob your heart out :)

    I had that experience while/after reading:
    1. Simple Jess by Pamela Morsi – the scene after the secondary characters Maeve and Eben made love and Maeve said something like “now we’re even”
    2. A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught – when the heroine chose Royce Westmoreland over her family
    3. Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught – the epilogue did it for me

    I think the crying was due to being so into the story that I was not an observer but one of the characters as well. I think only a few guys can understand that. My husband saw me red-eyed after reading something by Iris Johansen once and when I tried to explain, he just couldn’t get it. Oh well …

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