When you invest all your dreams in writing a book, you never expect to receive the Ultimate Review—you know, the review of all reviews, the review that shows that the reviewer not only read every word, but that the reviewer understands the book, actually gets what you are trying to say.
I’m lucky to have received enthusiastic reviews from people I respect. They mean so much to me. Just a few of these folks: Ray Bradbury, Abigail van Buren (Dear Abby), John Shelby Spong, Fannie Flagg, Robert Inman, Charles Ghigna, Irene Latham, Howell Raines, Allen Johnson Jr., Martha Hunt Huie, Paul Zahl, Pat Bleicher…and on and on. I am grateful.
But I want to share with you the Dream Review, the review that is so honest, negative and positive at the same time, that it sweeps you off your feet. The review that indicates your book forced the reader to FEEL, to RISE UP, to REACT, to CHANGE DIRECTION. Here’s Kellye’s review (for my book, “How to Become Your Own Book”):
Dear Mr. Reed,
I have spent the afternoon contemplating the purpose of this letter, among distractions, and concluded that my true intent is simply to share with you the effect your book, “How to Become Your Own Book: the joy of writing for you and you alone” has had on my little world. I have read it, shut it, written in it, threatened to rip it to shreds, and cried into its pages. I guess I thought you should know.
I have experienced a roller coaster of emotions. I put in on the shelf for a while because there was an invisible shield that reflected a blinding light any time I saw a prompt about family secrets. Then one day, I opened it and discovered a light and whimsical side to it…I took colored magic marker pens and doodled on a few pages…I allowed myself to write outside of the provided boxes. There were times of laughter and color and music, there were times of bitter, painful remembering, when black ink spilled into the margins like ivy. I hate this book. I can’t wait to turn the page. I love that quote! I want to burn it…yet I am afraid of forever losing the previous parts of my life that seeped into the pages and hardened, past the point of no return, bled with ink confessions. So instead of torching it I throw it across the room, having to lunge across the room soon after to smooth out the bent and crinkled pages because that drives me crazy. So I put it on the coffee table and stack four or five books on top of it (also to help with the crinkled pages) and pull it out again only when I am compelled to. Like now…because I know there is a page inside where I can impeccably articulate the last few days, and all that I felt and remembered and smelled and tasted. Where I can describe how Birmingham has opened me up in indescribable ways. Birmingham Festival Theatre, Horse Pens 40, Lake Logan Martin, my little studio in Forest Park and under four books on my coffee table…Reed’s Book.
So here is my feedback: I love your book and I hate your book. I cherish it and I loathe it. I wonder if other purchasers have had similar feelings…the wretched torture of breaking through fear in writing…in an unassuming place. It has been a wonderful and horrible adventure. Thank you for sharing what you write and for sharing your charming store with me. Birmingham and I wouldn’t be the same without it.
Kellye Marie Whitmer
See what I mean? How can any review of any of my writings, past or future, compare to this outburst?
I’m a lucky writer

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