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read what you love • love what you read

Guest Writer

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

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