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By Midge Lyndee
Book Review 

Be my Valentine

The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment


January 30, 2021

Sometimes people are sad when Valentine’s Day comes around. Having no special sweetheart of their own, they don’t expect flowers or candy or a special gesture given from the heart. Don’t get me wrong. It is lovely to celebrate romantic love and have a special day set aside for cards and flowers and a delicious dinner out. It just seems that this year people from all over could use their own special gesture, to be told they are loved and appreciated, and not left out of the festivities.

I myself have set aside a special store of Valentine’s candy to share with family, the simple stuff from message hearts to pink foil wrapped kisses. I am also thinking of making a series of pink related cookies with cherries and icing. And recently I invested in some watercolor paints and will be making my own Valentine cards. I guess you could say I am making a Valentine for myself by working on giving to others. I also am giving my readers a Valentine with an assortment of books, though they are not romantic love stories they are stories from the heart and stories for everyone. These are stories of human interest, because love starts with our humanity, our creativity, our inner journeys and our reaching out.

One of my favorite writers is Alexander McCall Smith. I have mentioned him and his “No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series before. This month he has a new book out, a collection of short stories called, “Pianos and Flowers.” The concept is inventive. He viewed some random photos from the London Sunday Times archives and from the photos, has imagined stories of the people he sees posing.

This reminds me of prompts we used in my writing group. Someone would bring a picture or an object, or give us one single word, and we would let our imaginations bloom in all directions, writing quickly within a 10 minute limit. During that time I realized I imagined frequently in my personal life and continue to this day. During COVID I have watched the comings and goings of people in the park across the street and imagined all sorts of scenarios as they chased dogs and children, strolled or walked fast as if being chased. Smith takes the reader into his imagination while weaving human lives, loves, hopes and dreams, as well as loss and despair. Reading Smith’s new book is like looking out my window. But he is doing all the work.

The next book, “59 Memory Lane” by Celia Anderson, takes storytelling a bit further by bringing us into the home of May Rosevere who is 110 years old and strives to live to be 111 by means of a secret. This supercentenarian may be too feisty for you or just your cup of tea. Do you wonder if she makes it to 111? Visit her in a warm, sunny and cozy Cornwall English village. Enjoy the scenery. Enjoy the community of multiple characters, varied ages and circumstances. Life is surely a journey for all, 111 years or less, with a secret or no secret.

To put life and love in its simplest form, let’s go with “Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jane Dyer. I’ve never met a cookie that I didn’t like. Have you? So life lessons by cookie seems like a delightful endeavor. The author takes advantage by using cookies as a way of presenting themes of human kindness and cooperation, and how we are fair or unfair to others in our daily lives. Regret is defined and how we can be content within ourselves and with those around us.

We don’t need excuses to make cookies or stretch our imaginations or open ourselves up to new ideas. But books have a way of offering windows and giving us opportunity to do just that. To open up to ourselves and to others. I’m not sure if I will make it to my 111th birthday. However, no matter how many years I have left or how I live them is up to me. Outside our homes or inside them, we can explore our world, leave a Valentine at our neighbor’s doorstep, rev up our imaginations or get out a cookbook. Today I am going to start by baking cookies and while they are in the oven, I’ll keep reading, painting and watching out my windows. There is a lot of humanity out there to love!

Good books.

Good reading.

*Midge Lyn’dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.


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