Why I Love Being a Book Reviewer for Portland Book Review
By Fran Byram

When I retired, I knew I would never get bored because of all the hobbies I enjoy. An entertaining way to spend my free time is to read, which I love. For a long time, I was going to my local used book store and buying books by the bagful. I would read them and sell them back, but it was still costing me between $40 and $60 a month. Then something wonderful came into my life. I was honored to be asked to be a Reviewer for Portland Book Review.

Now, when I need something to read, I go online and pull up a long, generous list of books. I pick out several that sound good, and e-mail my wish-list to Chris Johnson, the charming creator of Portland Book Review. I don’t even have to leave home (unless I get my books by having lunch with the above-mentioned charmer). Oh, and all the books are FREE! These are brand new, shiny books that (unlike those from the used book store) have no dribbles of unknown substances on them and no musty smell. I love getting these wonderful new books of my own choosing to read, and most are first edition hard-cover novels by some of my favorite authors!

Mysteries are my favorite for the most part, but perusing the list is like being hungry at a sumptuous buffet. There are so many categories to choose from: crime/mystery/thriller (my favorite), science fiction, romance, children’s books, cookbooks, gardening, historical fiction, humor fiction, popular fiction, young adult, and modern literature just to name a few. There are hundreds of titles from which to choose. I have trouble narrowing down my choices to a manageable list.

At first, when I agreed to be a Reviewer, I wondered if I would be able to write a review that would be acceptable. I needn’t have worried. We were given clear instructions about what a review should contain and the best format to use. Portland Book Review has editors that go through each submitted review and correct any silly mistake I (or other reviewers) may make. They want honest reviews, and never ask us to compromise our opinions of a book. I have never felt any pressure to hurry up or to review more books. I am able to set my own pace, leaving me plenty of time for my many other pursuits of enjoyment.

On occasion, a special opportunity comes up where we have the chance to receive compensation for reviewing a particular book. However, for the most part, aside from free books, there is no pay unless you count the fact that we can sell the books we have reviewed on Amazon.com. Speaking for myself, I don’t need pay…I am saving money by not buying books, and I am very happy to have piles of wonderful free books coming to me when I want them.

I feel so lucky to be a member of the impressive list of reviewers for Portland Book Review. If all the above is not enough, I love to see the awed expressions on the faces of people when I tell them I am a book reviewer for Portland Book Review. Sometimes I use the term “literary critic” if I really want to impress. Ooooh, what fun! Not only that, my friends and family love the fact that I prefer to just give away the books when I’m finished with them. I’m too lazy to deal with selling them online, and they can really pile up if I don’t give them away. Even though I did not pay for any book, I feel quite generous giving a book or two to any and all who dare venture in to our book-loving home.

Fran Byram attended the University of Idaho, and a few years ago completed a course in art from Clackamas Community College. Her career was mostly spent as a 911 operator and dispatcher for police and fire departments. After escaping that stressful job she spent several years working as a graphic artist, designing everything from catalogs to food labels. Having raised four children as a single parent while working full time, she is more than delighted to have time to read and review books for Portland Book Review. Fran is now happily retired, and besides being an avid reader, she is also loves gardening, oil painting, camping, and playing poker with friends. When not engaged in those pursuits, she enjoys her dozen grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.