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Kelly’s Top 10 Books Of 2020

January 4, 2021

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Happy New Year!  We made it to 2021!  Let‘s face it, 2020 was an absolute doozy!  I personally had a difficult time focusing on reading and was in a perpetual state of ruffled feathers.  This year, quality over quantity was the name of the game and I found myself way more picky with my book selections.  If a book didn’t reel me in from page one or work with whatever my current mood was on that day (or hour 😂😂), I tossed it.  Definitely a bit harsh for me, but I truly needed books that distracted me from my distractions and took me somewhere outside of my quarantined mind.  Here are my Top 10 Books Of 2020 in random order!  Whether I laughed out loud or was completely moved, each one of these books spoke to me in a unique way! Click on the book pictures for their full synopsis or to purchase from your local bookstore.   Here we go….

His & Hers by Alice Feeney (Flatiron) ~ This book was sooooo good! I could not put this down.  I listened to this on audio and the narration was incredible.  This was the ultimate suspense/thriller.  Click here to read my past review.

Admission by Julie Buxbaum (Delacorte Press) ~ Can you say,  juicy tale?  I really enjoyed this behind the scene look at what it takes to get into college and how far families will go to ensure their kids receive the creme de la creme education. Buxbaum explored issues of wealth, race, white privilege and more in her latest book. Though this is a work of fiction, it was inspired by the recent admission scandal this past year. I love how the teenager’s point of view is so prevalent in this story. Admission is an eye-opening read that will have you glued to your seat. It is the perfect book club pick. Discussions galore will come out of it.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle (The Dial Press) ~ This book was hands down, the equivalent to a perfect cup of tea!  I am a huge Glennon fan and her book was the breath of fresh air I needed this year.  Click here to read my past review.  

Green Lights by Matthew McConaughey (Crown Publishing) ~ Such a fun read.  Though Matthew’s life is most definitely different than mine, I strangely found comfort and could even relate to some of his words. I love how green lights, yellow lights, and even red lights are all opportunities to halt what you are doing or move ahead.  It is like the universe is talking to us.  Maybe some things do happen for a reason. Nevertheless, I got quite a few laughs from this charmer. Wait until you read about all of his “dreams”!!

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (William Morrow)~ Why all the fuss about this book???? In short, it is the story of a fifteen year old girl and her relationship with her 42 year old HIgh School teacher. It is a book that shines light on things that are strenuous to acknowledge. It is a book that is easier to just not read. It is a book that had my mind twisted every which way. It is a book that never left me, even when my reading time was through. It is a book that made me feel terribly uncomfortable yet completely captivated. It is a book that made my stomach turn and my mind wander. It is a book filled with power. It is a book that is so beautifully written, my heart ached. 

The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Dare (Dutton)~ I do not think this book has a star rating less than 5+.  Adunni absolutely stole my heart.  I rooted for her with all my heart and soul throughout her journey.  Dare’s book was powerful and complete perfection! If you have not read this yet, make it happen ASAP.  You will have no regrets.  

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby (Flatiron)~  I am so glad I squeezed this book in before 2020 ended.  WOW……this was awesome! Robberies, car chases, drugs and family drama….this book was a 100 mph ride that kept my beating heart in business.  Cosby’s writing was colorful, sharp and seriously captivating.  Enjoy this high speed read!!

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez (Forever Publishing)~ Oh La La.  Sloan and Jason…need I say more.  This was the super fun and steamy read I needed this 2020. I loved Jimenez’s last book The Friend Zone, and her follow up was equally as fabulous!  Be prepared to swoon.  Consider yourself warned!

Master Class by Christina Dalcher (Berkley) ~ I am obsessed with this book. Dalcher’s contemporary dystopian tale incorporates contentious issues from the past and present into a fictional world where the unimaginable may not be far from the truth. This was a 5 star read for me.  Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood will be all over this one.  Click here for my past review.

The Roxy Letters by Mary Pauline Lowry (Simon &Schuster) ~ Take it from me, The Roxy Letters is the PERFECT book to slip in your bag when heading to the beach (or pool, or lake, or front porch).  With so many uncertainties in the world, why not escape for a few hours with some much needed laughter and a story that just makes you feel great.  I spent so much of my time reading this book giggling, while my cheeks turned uber pink.  With a heart of gold and a thirst for all things good, Roxy is one to root for. Click here for my past review.

Well my friend, that is a wrap!  Look out for all my bookish love coming your way this 2021.  Until next time…

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S.  Click here to read my last post in December.  If you love a good domestic suspense novel, I have got you covered.  

Guest Writer

Guest writer Amanda Benwell graphic

Amanda Benwell
Bookstagram Bonanza Edition

Guest writer Amanda Benwell graphic

October 28, 2020

Dear Book Worms,

Happy Wednesday! I am thrilled to share with you that Amanda Benwell is on the blog today writing to Mr. Hemingway about one of her favorite books of all time. Amanda is the creator of the wonderful Bookstagram account, @lilacsandliterature where she highlights her love of reading and all the books you can possibly imagine. If you need a book recommendation, Amanda will steer you in the right direction. If you don’t believe me, ask one of the 9,000+ followers she has. Amanda is the real deal!

Amanda is a born and raised Mainer, and shares a home with her husband of twelve years and their three sons (see why I like her)! When she is not spending time with all of the men in her life or quietly reading, she enjoys anything and everything true crime: podcasts, documentaries, etc. as well as bad reality TV and cooking! She lives for the nostalgia of growing up a 90s kid and is a huge fan of 70s soft rock, country music and CHRISTMAS! Amanda shared with me that she could never live without caffeine, comfy blankets, sarcasm and pasta! This my friends… is someone I can trust!

Though Amanda and I both live in Maine, we have never met in person (unless you count ZOOM). Did I mention that Maine is a really big state with slow moving “highways” and country roads? The minimum time it takes to get anywhere feels like 25 minutes, and Amanda and I live miles away from one another. I look forward to enjoying a cup of coffee or fabulous cocktail with this Bookstagram Treasure one of these days. I hope you enjoy her letter to the big guy and check out all of her bookish love over on instagram.

❤️❤️❤️

Kelly

P.S. The book Amanda eagerly chose to share today started from one small article in the New York Times in 1959 and resulted in an Edgar Award in1966 for best fact-crime novel and a Pulitzer Prize nomination that same year, not to mention multiple film adaptations as well (hmmm…have you guessed yet?)

___________________________

Dear Mr. H.,

Fall is here in Maine and as a lifelong resident I can easily say this is my favorite time of year. The leaves are changing, the weather is much cooler, the sky turns darker earlier, and there is nothing that says “reading time” to me more than a blanket and a cup of tea. In case you were wondering, decaf chai spice is my go to right now. And as I contemplated what book I would want to chat with you about, it really wasn’t very difficult to choose. When I was a high school student (I won’t date myself but it was roughly two decades ago – keep this between us?) I read a book that would forever change me. Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood shocked me and instantly made me a fanatic of all things true crime – documentaries, books, tv specials – you name it and I devoured it. And even now, in the age of podcasts and Netflix where true crime is a thriving brand, I’m still taken back to years ago when I first read the story of the Clutter family from Holcomb, Kansas.

I am by definition, not a re-reader. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have read a book more than once. I’m not sure exactly why that is. Part of it is because there are so many good books out there that I hesitate to choose something I’ve already read over the adventure of a new story. I am also a staunch anti-synopsis/spoiler reader which means I do not read the synopsis of a book before I dive in, as I do not even want the generic plot revealed. This is for a few reasons – I read many thrillers where there is often a “twist” in the book and even reading a synopsis has me guessing it all the way through and can easily ruin the excitement for myself. But there are a few books I’ve read over the course of my life as a reader – and one could argue I’ve been a reader since birth as books have always been my escape – that have been so powerful that I would read all over again. And this brings me to this amazing book. 

A note to readers: In Cold Blood is not for the faint of heart and deals with four savage murders so please continue reading with caution. 

In 1959 in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas lived four members of the Clutter Family – Herb, the patriarch, Bonnie, the timid “afflicted” mother, Kenyon, the high school son, and the teenage sweetheart Nancy, who was the town’s pride and joy. One Sunday morning, Nancy’s friend arrives at the Clutter’s house and finds it silent which is highly unusual. What follows is the discovery that the entire family has been murdered – and worst of all there is no apparent motive or any suspects to name. The Clutter family was widely known, very well liked, and not an overly wealthy family, although they did just fine on their sprawling ranch. But it doesn’t appear much was stolen from the house, and everyone knew Mr. Clutter never carried cash, choosing to pay for everything by check. So what happened here? Why did this horrific crime – shotgun blasts in close range to the entire family – happen? Was it personal? But why?

Capote’s writing is unlike anything that came before or after, and broke the true crime genre wide open. He interviewed absolutely everyone he could – from friends and family of the Clutters to people who knew the eventual suspects – and who of course turned out to be the perpetrators. But the most important aspect of the novel is not how much time and research was spent on the information, but how it was presented. In Cold Blood reads like a titillating crime novel, fictional in its appearance, but every word of it true. Capote was able to put you inside the Clutter home on the night of November 15, 1959 with the wind whistling across the plains and the silence of the country roads. You can taste the fear of the family, the shock and terror as they realize this isn’t your run of the mill robbery and that evilhad entered their home. 

As the entire town scrambles to understand this horrific crime, Capote not only takes us through the journey of law enforcement, but also takes us along for a ride with the two men who committed the crime. We learn everything about them, including their childhoods, what they ate after the brutal murders, and everything in between. It is an unprecedented look at both the victims and perpetrators that was unheard of at the time. No one writes with such amazing detail as Capote. He captured the emotions of all those around, not only the family, but the murderers as well. 

I cannot recommend this book enough, even for those who would not consider themselves interested in the true crime genre. This was written well before “click-bait” and the obsession with serial killers and every sensationalized detail. Capote wrote the truth, and it was more chilling than any horror movie or fictional verse. He also takes an approach to the death penalty that has much validity in the conversation even now. 

So here we are, Mr. H. I hope you take my suggestion into consideration and pour yourself a cup of chai, wrap up in a nice cozy blanket and meet the Clutter family with me. Herb, Bonnie, Kenyon, and Nancy will stay with you. And you might just meet your new obsession: true crime and the desire to understand the darkest parts of humanity. It’s been 20 years and I’m still in deep.

Your true crime bookworm friend,

Amanda

P.S. Click on the book pic below to purchase!

Book cover of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

Guest Writer

Graphic for guest writer Carrie Torrisi

Carrie Torrisi

Bookstagram Bonanza Edition

Guest Writer, Carrie Torisi graphic

October 7, 2020

Dear Lovely Readers,

I am so excited to introduce you to today’s Guest Writer…Carrie Torrisi. Carrie is the mastermind behind the ever so popular Bookstagram (fancy name for Instagram for book lovers) page, @bostonbookfanatic. If you have never visited Carrie’s Instagram page, then HOP TO IT! She loves reading family dramas, particularly multigenerational and nonlinear/dual timeline stories. She does an impressive job highlighting the latest books, promoting authors, and featuring debut novels. Carrie is one of the creators of #thesixspotlight and a co-creator of the @mystery.book.club on Instagram.

Carrie’s book recommendations are a slam dunk. If you are looking for something to read, look no further. With over 42,000 followers (I am most definitely one of them), it is safe to say that this Boston Book Fanatic has got you covered. And guess what…this isn’t even her day job! A successful lawyer by day 😮 and respected book lover/book influencer by night, Carrie is awe-inspiring!!! How on earth she has time to ride her deeply loved Peloton bike is beyond me. I hope you enjoy her stellar letter to Mr. H. Its a keeper!

❤️❤️❤️

Kelly

P.S. Carrie’s coolness doesn’t stop there… she even has a cat named RBG. Can you say GIRL POWER!

______________________

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Perhaps a book that’s comprised of individuals sharing the darkest moments in their lives isn’t the best to recommend to someone whose tumultuous life was filled with mental health struggles and ended in suicide.  However, given that the biggest takeaway from everyone I’ve talked to about this book is that the stories made them feel less alone in their struggles, perhaps you would have found some comfort in it, as well.

I know not everyone wants to read an emotional book, but if you’re going to read just one this fall (hell, even this year), then make that one be Craigslist Confessional by Helena Dea Bala. Are you going to be sad?  Oh, most definitely.  But are you also going to feel connected to strangers and fellow readers in a way that you didn’t know possible?  Also yes.

Helena gave up her law career to follow her passion. That passion?  Listening to strangers share their problems.  What started as a conversation with a homeless man who panhandled near her office led Helena to place an ad on Craigslist (hm, how to explain Craigslist to you… or the internet…  This letter will be far too long so just imagine a huge billboard in the city square that anyone can see.) offering to meet with strangers and listen anonymously to them as they shared whatever they felt they couldn’t tell anyone else.  An offer to allow them to unburden themselves and ideally walk always feeling a bit emotionally lighter. She got thousands of responses, and Craigslist Confessional was born.

As a lawyer who sometimes gets caught up in the daily grind (we all know how that goes, right?), I so admire Helena’s decision to leave her unfulfilling legal career behind and choose a path that gave her a sense of purpose. Especially given how wild that path seemed and how it, um, didn’t seem like it could possibly lead to any kind of income. Thankfully, people saw the value in these stories and now not only do we all have an opportunity to read them, but hopefully Helena will have a long and prosperous writing career ahead of her.

This book is made up of 40 individual stories from people going through the gamut of personal problems.  It’s split into five categories:  Love, Regret, Loss, Identity, and Family. Some of the stories will break your heart, some of them will bring you bittersweet joy, some of them will open your eyes to different experiences, and some of them you’ll relate to on a deeply personal level.  ALL of them will make you feel like you’re less alone. And ALL of them will remind you that we can never truly know what is going on behind a person’s façade. 

I’ve listened to people discuss these stories and connect over some of the deepest and darkest moments in their lives.  I’ve watched friends discuss their failed pregnancies and lost babies and rather than being crushed by sorrow, they’re comforted by their solidarity.  I’ve listened to people reference a moment in one story or a particular chapter where they thought, “yes, I’ve been there,” or “whoa, that’s me.” I’ve heard others say that they found their pain and struggles validated within these pages.

If you’re looking for a book with a happy ending where everything is tied up in a neat little bow, then be warned that this isn’t it. These stories are captured from a single conversation that Helena had with these individuals and are focused on whatever they needed or wanted to share to unburden themselves, so we don’t find out how their lives or situations turned out. While that might be hard for some, I found that it allowed me to be hopeful for them even in what seemed like the most hopeless of circumstances.

Reading Craigslist Confessional has reminded me not to be so quick to judge others and that there isn’t a single person whose life is all happy all the time. It’s truly a must read.

All the best,

Carrie – Boston Book Fanatic 

P.S. Click on the pic below to purchase this book!

Author photo of Carrie Torisi
photo credit – Carrie Torrisi

How To Save A Life

The Beauty in Breaking Beauty shot

The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper (Riverhead Books)

The Beauty in Breaking Beauty shot

September 1, 2020

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Every time I read a memoir I say to myself, “ Kelly…..why don’t you do this more often?” I have always been fascinated by other people’s stories…. Sometimes it’s me being nosey 🤣🤣, but mostly I enjoy reading about someone else’s  journey and perspective on life.  Memoirs to me ignite empathy and understanding.  They often bring to the surface, unexplored feelings I never even knew I had. Whether I finish someone’s story feeling inspired, sad, horrified or utterly joyous, I am one step closer to understanding the human spirit. 

I recently read Dr. Michele Harper’s medical memoir, The Beauty in Breaking.  Dr. Harper is an African American, Harvard-educated ER doctor.  Mr. Hemingway… you could have easily swapped stories with this woman.  Like Dr. Harper,  I am sure you saw your share of emergencies while driving an ambulance for the American Red Cross in Italy during the first World War.  You even experienced your own traumas when you were hit with a mortar shell (I hear you even saved a piece of the shrapnel) and survived two consecutive plane crashes.  To say you cheated death a few times is an understatement.  From the war torn battlefields in the 1900s to the modern day ER battlefields, you and Dr. Harper could probably chit-chat all night long. I have digressed…once again. Lets get on with it.

In her memoir, Dr. Harper does a wonderful job weaving together her abusive childhood and past relationships with the wide variety of patients she has treated in the ER.   Her experience working as a physician in a hospital as a Black woman and the ethical boundaries that are pushed in such an intense setting was extremely eye opening.    Dr. Harper also brings to light the racism and sexism she experienced and witnessed in her career and reveals the flaws that exist in our healthcare systems today.  

What I truly loved about Dr. Harper’s memoir was how her encounters with patients helped her with understanding her own trauma and relationships.  At times,  I felt like I was in the middle of a Medical TV Drama. The intensity of waiting for your next patient to come crashing through the hospital door, to the painstakingly devastating outcomes that are often endured, Dr. Harper’s medical details are not for the faint hearted.  However, what her book offers that most medical dramas lack, is the human connection to her patients.  Day in and day out, Dr, Harper worked on healing her patients.  It was through this process of remedying and restoring health in others that she truly began to heal herself.   I love how she incorporates her yoga practice into her medical practice.  Like medicine, she believes that yoga too, needs to be practiced everyday for optimal gains. Through the patients she comes in contact with everyday and her selfcare journey, she taps into the value of truth and happiness.  Her writing is intellectual, thought provoking and filled with compassion. I am thrilled to have Dr. Harper’s book on my bookshelf.  

Until next time my friend!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S. I not only enjoyed reading this book, but I also enjoyed the audio version as well. If you are an audio book enthusiast, check out Libro.fm for all your listening needs. Your purchases support your local bookstore of choice 🤗🤗🤗.

Click on the book pic to purchase.

Cover of The Beauty in Breaking

Girls…Run The World

Untamed and Fierce, Free, Fire Beauty Shot

Untamed by Glennon Doyle (The Dial Press) &
Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire:  The Guide To Being Glorious You by Jen Hatmaker (Thomas Nelson)

August 24, 2020

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

I am coming at you today Mr. H. with a whole lot of girl power. I hope all your “masculinity” can handle it 😂. I am talking about the fabulous Glennon Doyle and Jen Hatmaker!  These two motivational ladies are the “QUEENS” of self love and all things good in the world.  They know how to navigate the murky waters of religion and sexual identity. With empathy, they champion those who struggle. They are “momming” hard with all the rest of us, sharing their triumphs and challenges with their kids every step of the way.  They believe in the power of relationships and the people around us. But most importantly, they want to live their most authentic lives.  Both women have the gift of connecting with their audience.  When I read their words or listen to them speak, it feels like I am in a room with one of my closest girlfriends. They are inspirational, compassionate, and downright hysterical. Let me move forward now and tell you about their latest books!

I have been following Glennon Doyle forever.  I have read her previous books, Carry on, Warrior:  The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, and Love Warrior:  A Memoir.  I have listened to many of her interviews and podcast appearances and basically feel like she could be my next-door neighbor.  In her latest book, Untamed, Glennon once again invites her readers into her life sharing intimate details of her family and her mission for equality and all things good in the world. She shares with us her divorce from her husband (and father to their three children) and her love story with her wife Abby (ummm…greatest woman soccer player ever….just saying).  She talks about the importance of knowing who you are and how the relationship you have with yourself is your foundation, your home base in the world.

What I love about Glennon is that she embraces the awkward questions revolving around sexual identity, politics, sobriety, parenting and more.  She understands that so many of us are trying to figure out the hard stuff.  Let’s face it, life can be messy at times.  It’s having the guts to ask edgy questions that bring clarity to oftentimes difficult issues that moves us closer to the truth.  Glennon welcomes these conversations and nourishes them with her heart and soul. She shows her readers how to take on the gritty issues…She firmly believes that “We Can Do Hard Things”. She is so right…We totally can do hard things.  I can do hard things and so can you.  I felt so well balanced after reading Untamed.  Such a much needed pick me up during these strange pandemic times.  I hope you enjoy Glennon’s book as much as I did.

Let’s move on to the lovely Jen Hatmaker.  So Jen is another powerhouse woman that I have also been following for many, many years.  I am a fan of her Podcast, For The Love and an even bigger fan of her personal journey as a woman of faith and a motivational speaker.  Here is the thing about Jen.  She does the work.  She doesn’t just talk, talk, talk.  She examines, explores and researches the tough topics.  She is not afraid to try new things and she embraces failure.  Her latest book, Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire has everything you need to know about owning your space and not having to justify to ANYONE who you are.  Jen encourages women to stop hiding, pretending or posing as someone else.  It is all just too exhausting.  Our one and only life is ours and we need to live it well and live it truthfully.  When we do that, guess what happens…we flourish.  One thing that is awesome about her book is that it is not preachy. Jen makes it very clear that even though our journey’s  may look similar, each of our endgames are different.

Jen is the best girlfriend to her readers.  She shares the importance of our friendships and “vibrant relationships” in our lives.  She shares her personal exploration with religion and God and all the hiccups along the way.  She shows her readers how to examine their own faith (if they want to…again, no pressure) and figure out what is right for them.  Jen speaks about her friendships and faith with absolute honesty. That is what makes her shine.

Jen is no stranger to the everyday challenges of being a woman. Weight issues, self-esteem, wrinkles, loneliness and raising kids…Jen dives right into these issues with experience and of course, a whole lot of humor. Her book inspires me to be the best version of myself.  While I continue to nourish my relationships with my friends and family, I will most importantly be taking care of my one true self.  That feels pretty incredible to me.  Enjoy this treasure during these unprecedented times.  

Well my friends, Glennon Doyle and Jen Hatmaker are two women that not only speak their truth, but are vibrant with fantastic wisdom that so many of us women can truly appreciate. There is something for everyone in their books. Whether all or even just parts of their writing resonate with you, I hope you embrace their positivity and love yourself.  

Until next time!

Your Biggest Fan!

Kelly

P.S.  I did a combination of reading both books and listening to them on audio.  I am not going to lie,  both authors narrate their respective books so it is almost like listening to a super long fabulous podcast.  I loved both books on audio.  Jen adds extra commentary and clips from relevant podcasts, which enhance your listening experience of her book.  If you are an audio lover, be sure to check out Libro.fm.  I am a huge fan.  Your purchases go directly to the local bookstore of your choice.  How cool is that?

Click on the Book Pics below to purchase.

“Ernest”Chitter Chatter

Ernest Chitter Chatter collage with Abdi Nor Iftin

The Dear Mr. Hemingway Book Discussion Group You All Have Been Waiting For…

 

July 10, 2020

Dear Lovely Readers,

I am excited to announce The Dear Mr. Hemingway Book Discussion Group….”Ernest” Chitter-Chatter With Kelly & Friends.  My goal is to connect all of my readers (and me too) with a wide variety of fabulous books and incredible authors.  Not only will you have the chance to discuss a monthly book with other book lovers from around the world, but you also will have the opportunity to connect with the author as well. All your burning questions can finally be answered by authors you know and love.  Not too shabby.

As of right now, there are two parts to this group.  You can choose to be in one or both parts.  Part one is a private group chat on instagram with our DMH community on a specific date about one of the monthly book choices.  The second part is a ZOOM with you, me and the author.  Talk about fun!!!!!

𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞-𝐮𝐩 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐚𝐥𝐥⁣:

𝐉𝐮𝐥𝐲 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟎 (Still time to join for final conversation and ZOOM)⁣

𝘊𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘔𝘦 𝘈𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘯 by Abdi Nor Iftin⁣

Private Instagram Chat on July 9th & July 23rd⁣

ZOOM~End of July…TBA⁣

𝐀𝐮𝐠𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟎⁣

𝘛𝘪𝘯𝘺 𝘐𝘮𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 by Alli Frank and Asha Youmans⁣

Private Instagram Chat on August 20th⁣

ZOOM~ 7pm August 24th⁣

𝐒𝐞𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟎⁣

𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘓𝘪𝘰𝘯’𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘍𝘪𝘧𝘵𝘩 𝘈𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘶𝘦 by Fiona Davis⁣

Private Instagram Chat September 24th⁣

ZOOM~End of September TBA⁣

𝐎𝐜𝐭𝐨𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟎⁣

𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘞𝘪𝘧𝘦 𝘞𝘩𝘰 𝘒𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘛𝘰𝘰 𝘔𝘶𝘤𝘩 by Michele Campbell⁣

Private Instagram Chat October 22nd⁣

ZOOM~End of October TBA⁣

𝐑𝐄𝐒𝐄𝐑𝐕𝐄 𝐘𝐎𝐔𝐑 𝐒𝐏𝐎𝐓 𝐅𝐎𝐑 𝐎𝐍𝐄 𝐎𝐑 𝐌𝐎𝐑𝐄 𝐎𝐅 𝐓𝐇𝐄𝐒𝐄 𝐁𝐎𝐎𝐊 𝐂𝐇𝐀𝐓𝐒

👇👇👇👇👇

dearmrhemingway@gmail.com⁣

or DM me on Instagram @dearmrhemingway

Look forward to chatting with all of you

Kelly

P.S.

There is still time to join in on our July book pick. It is an awesome read with so much to talk about! Join in the fun!

Click the book pics below to purchase

July Discussion Read

Ernest Chitter Chatter Collage with Call Me American with Abdi Nor Iftin

Call Me American by Abdi Nor Iftin

June 29, 2020

Hello Lovely Readers,

I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to their summer. Over here at Dear Mr. Hemingway, I am constantly developing new bookish ways we can all connect over our love of reading. This month, I am hosting a book discussion on an extraordinary memoir by Abdi Nor Iftin…Call me American. Abdi was born in Somalia and shares his story from living in war torn Mogadishu to becoming an American citizen. What’s even better, Abdi lives here in Maine very close to me 🤗!

For the month of July, The Dear Mr. Hemingway community will be reading Call Me American. On July 9th and July 23rd, I will be facilitating a private group discussion on this memoir over on Instagram. To participate, all you need is an instagram handle. It is super easy and really fun. BONUS……….At the end of July, I am hosting a ZOOM Session with Abdi with everyone who is in our book group (Date TBA).

Here is what you need to do to participate……

  1. If you have an Instagram account, simply DM me on there @dearmrhemingway, and I will add you to the group. You will automatically be alerted to the Zoom Session.
  2. If you do not have Instagram, but would like to join in on the Zoom Session with Abdi to ask all of your questions, please email me dearmrhemingway@gmail.com, writing BOOK DISCUSSION in the subject line. I will add you in.

Check out the Synopsis in the postscript!

I look forward to our discussion.

❤️❤️❤️

Kelly

P.S.

Synopsis

“Abdi Nor Iftin first fell in love with America from afar. As a child, he learned English by listening to American pop and watching action films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. When U.S. marines landed in Mogadishu to take on the warlords, Abdi cheered the arrival of these Americans, who seemed as heroic as those of the movies.Sporting American clothes and dance moves, he became known around Mogadishu as Abdi American, but when the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab rose to power in 2006, it became dangerous to celebrate Western culture. Desperate to make a living, Abdi used his language skills to post secret dispatches, which found an audience of worldwide listeners. Eventually, though, Abdi was forced to flee to Kenya.In an amazing stroke of luck, Abdi won entrance to the U.S. in the annual visa lottery, though his route to America did not come easily. Parts of his story were first heard on the BBC World Service and This American Life. Now a proud resident of Maine, on the path to citizenship, Abdi Nor Iftin’s dramatic, deeply stirring memoir is truly a story for our time: a vivid reminder of why America still beckons to those looking to make a better life.”

Click On the book pic below to purchase!

I Support You

Note taped to barn door that says "I Support You"

June 4, 2020

Dear Readers,

It has been a horrible week in the United States. With so many people hurting, I would like to especially acknowledge all of my Black readers and followers. I will never understand the pain you are going through, but I support you. With that said, my heart is broken. This week I have been quietly reflecting and listening. I am taking time to sort through everything. I am having difficult conversations with family and friends, reading more, and understanding more. All, so I can do more. Today I am sharing with you a few things that I am doing to not only educate myself but lend support to those who need it most.

As a community of book lovers, here is one thing we can all do today to show our support for the Black community.

The next time you order a book, order from one of these Black-owned local bookstores.

 

❤️❤️❤️

Kelly

P.S. Here is what I am reading.

#boymom #boydad

Decoding Boys Beauty Shot

Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Sons

By Cara Natterson, M.D.

(Ballantine Books)

April 20, 2020

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

As you may know, I am a mom to three boys, ages 10, 12, and 14. I grew up with all sisters, so having a group of boys living in my house is quite foreign to me. As I adapt to the newfound smells in my house, the pee on my toilet seats, and the overall surge of testosterone all around me, I am constantly trying to figure out how to raise these boys in a world much different than when I was their age. Dr. Cara Natterson’s latest book, Decoding Boys, has been an incredible resource. She is a pediatrician, speaker, consultant,  New York Times best-selling author of several health and parenting books, and most of all….a boy mom.  Dr. Natterson takes her readers on a journey into the world of boys. It turns out, there is actually a method to their madness.  Let’s get to it.

To start off, Dr. Natterson’s book tackles puberty, brain development and the importance of communicating with our sons.  It is the perfect read for parents with boys about to enter this wild world of change (8 years old and up) and for those in the throws of it as well.  To begin, Dr. Natterson explains the physiology of puberty and the timeline of maturation. She discusses how brain development is not directly related to puberty and that even though our boys may look older, their brains are many steps behind (that actually makes sense to me as I say the same thing over and over again to my boys).  On top of all the science behind a boy’s brain and development, Dr. Natterson debunks the notion of leaving a quiet boy alone. So many boys appear to be “men of few words”, especially when compared to girls. However, prompting and engaging in conversations with our boys is absolutely critical during this adolescent journey.

“Ultimately, I have come to believe that in order to parent our boys best, we must get over the notion that silence is golden.  We wouldn’t – we don’t – tolerate our girls shutting their doors and shutting us out, because she needs to know.  Well, it’s time to start raising our boys more like we raise our girls.  If there’s one thing you will realize while reading this book, I hope it’s that he needs to know, too.”

Dr. Natterson does an excellent job of presenting the physical process of growing boys.  She also makes it very clear that the consequences of parents not talking to their sons is growing more severe each day.  She then jumps right into the nitty gritty of what is to come for so many of us parents. She goes into great detail about the importance of talking to boys about sex.  She offers tips and strategies on how to get the conversations started in an organic way. Now if this makes you uncomfortable, then buckle up quickly. Dr. Natterson dives right into the pool of the 97 billion dollar online industry called PORN.  Yes, you may actually sweat reading this section. It is hard to imagine our sweet boys anywhere near this stuff. But guess what, 97% of boys will see porn before they are twenty. The birds and the bees “talk” is no longer a one and done conversation anymore. It now involves ongoing dialogue about  porn, “sexting”, consent, and so much more. They definitely did not warn us parents of this in the What to Expect While Expecting pregnancy books.  Who would have thought that all of this was a part of having a cute little baby boy?

Brain development, puberty and sex is what we expected, right (ok…not the porn part though)?  However, parenting boys in the 21st century is HARD! In addition to all of the above, we now have to be on top of our game when it comes to body image (not just a girl issue), addiction, gaming and gun violence.  Is your heart rate up yet? Mine surely is! This is why I love this book. Dr. Natterson ties in all of these current issues with what is going on with our developing boys. Her facts and trends are coupled with strategies that will put your mind at ease.   You can now exhale!!!  

Through the years, I have read and thumbed through numerous books on raising boys. None of them came close to offering me insight into this unfamiliar gender than Decoding Boys.  Dr. Natterson’s book is based on science, facts and experience.   What sets this book apart is its contemporary information and relevant game plans for navigating these uncharted waters.  Raising “masculine” boys that do not need to talk about things because it isn’t considered “manly” is a thing of the past. Raising boys who are encouraged to communicate their feelings and talk about uncomfortable issues is what is going to help keep them safe and guide them in future decision making.  It is NEVER too early to start talking to your boys. I highly recommend that all parents of boys have this book on their bookshelves. Let the convos begin!

Happy talking!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S. “A boy’s story is the best that is ever told.”

Charles Dickens

Click on the book pic below to purchase.

Listen Up

Kelly with her chicken and the book "You're Not Listening"

You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy (Celadon)

February 18, 2020

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Earlier this month, I led a discussion group on Instagram with my friend Sue on Kate Murphy’s new book, You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters. As promised, I am sharing some of the conversations we had on this extremely relevant book and URGING you to read it. Our discussion covered some of the highlights in the book but certainly did not cover everything. Let’s jump right in!

Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel here, I am going to share with you the publisher’s synopsis.

“Despite living in a world where technology allows constant digital communication and opportunities to connect, it seems no one is really listening or even knows how. And it’s making us lonelier, more isolated, and less tolerant than ever before. A listener by trade, New York Times contributor Kate Murphy wanted to know how we got here.

In this always illuminating and often humorous deep dive, Murphy explains why we’re not listening, what it’s doing to us, and how we can reverse the trend. She makes accessible the psychology, neuroscience, and sociology of listening while also introducing us to some of the best listeners out there (including a CIA agent, focus group moderator, bartender, radio producer, and top furniture salesman). Equal parts cultural observation, scientific exploration, and rousing call to action that’s full of practical advice, You’re Not Listening is to listening what Susan Cain’s Quiet was to introversion. It’s time to stop talking and start listening.”

I can’t reiterate enough the importance of this book. Murphy says, “You learn when you listen.” Yes, this is true in class or with an audio book, but are we really learning about one another in our conversations? How much can we learn from a text, email or social media account? True listening occurs, face to face…..the old fashioned way. Back in the day (not that long ago), we hung out with our friends/family on the front porch, over long Sunday dinners and even at more frequent social gatherings. We talked, we connected, we actually listened to one another and knew one another. I am old enough to remember those days. Long phone calls from my land line (I still do that….EVERYONE KNOWS THAT I LOVE LONG PHONE CALLS), car rides that included conversations (is that possible?), and lastly… LESS DISTRACTIONS. There is no doubt that technology plays a huge role in this drama. But is it all technology’s fault???

First of all, technology is a double edged sword. I think everyone agrees on this. It distracts us, distorts reality and takes away from meaningful conversations. It also informs us, connects us to friends and family far away and makes things in our lives so much easier. And guess what…… it is here to stay. Because of this, we need to figure out a way to cohabitate together. I sometimes think (others agreed as well) it is more obvious to those of us that have lived with it and without its extreme presence, to see the huge impact this technological era has made. Whether I am wrong in my assumption or not, listen to what this author is saying. Murphy talks about the increase in loneliness, depression, and even suicide (up 30% since 1999). Generation Z (our kids) are the first generation to be truly raised on “screens”. iPads and iPhones were not out right when I had my boys so I lucked out with not having the option to hand them one of those devices from the start. However, it is a big part of their lives now, even if I do not always like it. EVERYTHING is done via text, email, google calendars, etc. Social media is everywhere as well, no matter how hard you try to keep your kids off of it. Where I do see kids/teens using these platforms appropriately, I also see a lot of negativity a damaging behavior. Murphy talks about how loneliness and depression is high among 8th graders. I can totally see how this is possible (having an 8th grader myself). If your head is buried in a phone or on a device, you are not making meaningful connections. You are isolating yourself from human contact. I try so hard to model and teach my boys the importance of friendships and relationships. You need to put work into them to keep them strong. Go bowling, bike riding, skiing, shoot some hoops, etc. Do activities that help connect people. Good old fashioned fun works (easier said than done). I think we all agreed in the discussion that finding a balance is a real struggle. Like many, I do not want to give up the beauty of technology. It’s fun, it’s convenient and it is part of life. I do continue to work on boundaries and the personal impact it has on me, my family and the relationships we have. Sifting out only what serves me in a positive way is my goal. Not only is this an evolving skill, but it will be different for everyone!

We can’t blame technology for everything though. Another topic discussed by Murphy is our eagerness to get to know new people, a stranger if you will. Our heads are constantly down, eye contact is a lost skill and our desire to really get to know other people is lacking. Why? Murphy talks about how when we meet new people, it is common to mentally put someone in a category….almost prejudging. Whether it’s by skin color, activity, sexual preference, homeless, billionaire….you get my drift. By doing this, we are “selectively “ listening to what our preconceived notions are. I hate that this is true. Whether we are the ones prejudging or receiving the prejudgment, it doesn’t feel very great! Everyone has a story to tell and everyone’s story is NEVER what we presume. “You can’t judge a book by its cover” will always be true!

Busy lives have taken over. Overbooking ourselves, having kids with unbelievable schedules, work lives being our only lives…. who has time to connect with friends and family? Robin Dunbar, a British anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist said, “a primary way we maintain friendships is through “everyday talk”. This seems so obvious, but difficult to achieve. During our instagram discussion, many who have kids agreed that their social lives were more abundant when their children were younger. They had time for more playdates and adult time. They claimed that as their children got older and had more school/sport activities, their friendships took a back seat and free time to spend with friends became more of a luxury. Sadly, some relationships fizzled due to lack of engagement 😢. Whether you have kids or not, there is no arguing that the pace of life is too FAST.

One part of Murphy’s book that the discussion group found particularly interesting talked about how GOSSIP has a positive social function and makes up “60%” of adult conversations 😯😯🤔🤔! Murphy mentions how gossip helps us decide who is trustworthy. “Listening to gossip contributes to our development as ethical, moral members of society”. If you really stop to think about this, it makes sense. Think about how hard you listen and absorb information from another person when they are “talking” about another person of interest. You can use this information many ways. You can hear what is being said to learn information about another person (true/untrue) or understand the person who is talking (hmmmm). Nevertheless, pay attention to what is being said. Do you see this percentage accurately reflected in your own conversations?

There will never be a “lastly” to this post, because in all honesty, we can talk about it all day. However…Lastly, I was fascinated by Murphy’s information regarding confident people and listening to opposing views. Whether we express them or not, most of us have an opinion or a view on something in life. From book club, to the political arena, to a conversation with a spouse, conversing with someone who has an opposing view happens ALL the time. In Murphy’s book, a Harvard law professor’s students said “they worry that if they really pay attention or really understand the other side’s point of view, they will lose sight of what matters to them”. What I personally found telling was the nationwide survey of college and university students conducted by the Brookings Institution. Listen to how alarming this is. Student protestors often times feel “unsafe” when listening to an opposing view. “Fifty-one percent think it is “acceptable” to shout down a speaker with whom they disagreed and a disturbing 20 percent supported violence to prevent a speaker from delivering an address.” Wow! Murphy said, “we only become secure in our convictions by allowing them to be challenged. Confident people don’t get riled by opinions different from their own, nor do they spew bile online by way of refutation.” Think about all of the online debates, etc. People who lack confidence can seek their own point of view and ignore what they don’t want to hear online. An easy way out. This chapter in Murphy’s book also draws attention to the political world. Is anyone really listening to one another? Think of all the chaos our world has faced through the decades, centuries. Have you ever listened closely to a presidential debate? Does any of this ring true? Yup….it sure does. It is kind of scary at the end of the day. If you “feel” strongly about something, but put up a defense when challenged, something is not lining up correctly. Becoming a better listener will help people stay informed so they can express their own opinions with confidence. I am pretty sure the people running our world need to take a page from this chapter…..don’t you think?

Well readers….I hope you enjoyed that chaotic summary of our Instagram discussion. I hope it prompts you to read this book and have your own book club discussions. Everyone wants to be heard. Let’s start Listening!

All my best to you Mr. H.

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S. “Listening is essential to being funny. A vast body of evidence indicates humor is an asset in forming and maintaining relationships both professionally and personally”. The friends that make you laugh…………are listening ❤️❤️

Click here to purchase You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy

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