Scary Close by Donald Miller

From Goodreads: After decades of failed relationships and painful drama, Donald Miller decided he’d had enough. Impressing people wasn’t helping him connect with anyone. He’d built a life of public isolation, yet he dreamed of meaningful relationships. So at forty years old he made a scary decision: to be himself no matter what it cost.

I picked up Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Acquiring a Taste for True Intimacy, not for the title, but for the structure, as it was recommended for its structure by a memoir / non-fiction writing teacher.

The structure was good and made for an extremely easy read.

I note others have criticized this book for its name-dropping. In some respects I’d have to agree. The author tells us about a whole lot of other people’s advice. And he does attribute the advice accordingly. So, there is a bit of namedropping. It didn’t bother me too much, as the names weren’t familiar to me. I enjoyed the snippets.

“Remarkably, the most common regret of the dying was this: they wish they’d had the courage to live a life true to themselves and not the life others expected of them.”

Donald Miller, Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Acquiring a Taste for True Intimacy

Overall, there are many tidbits and takeaways that I gathered from this book. It was nice, as I was not expecting anything but an idea of how to structure an eminently readable teaching memoir. And I did find that, plus some relationship wisdom along the way.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Related Posts

They Called Us Enemy – Graphic Memoir Review

I am, or was, a big Star Trek fan. George Takei, aka Sulu, always seemed steady at the helm, even at warp speed. As a kid, I loved the crew operating the USS Enterprise. Boldly going where no one had gone before.

From Goodreads: Long before George Takei braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s — and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.

Graphic Memoir Cover

My Review: It took me awhile to read this graphic novel. And actually, I can usually read this type of novel in one sitting. This one was hard to get through. Perhaps because the artwork is black and white and the subject matter is upsetting. I was already familiar with the US Supreme Court’s Korematsu decision. A definite negative mark on United States history.

I found the last third of the book compelling, with the critical moments where Japanese Americans were forced into renouncing citizenship, the impacts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the good fight of some Americans to help the interred Japanese Americans retain their rights (or reacquire them, if more accurate).

It is a good introduction to that era of our history.

Generally, recommended. Four stars out of five.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Lori Gottlieb’s Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

From Goodreads: One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose office she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be anything but.

My Review of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

This is a fairly popular book and you’re likely to see it on a number of top booklists between 2019 (when published) and now. The title intrigued me. And someone who really liked this book prompted me to pick it up.

I really liked the intimacy of this book. Whenever there’s therapy involved, especially “authentic” therapy, it feels intimate. We become the “fly on the wall” observing someone else’s struggle.

I also enjoyed the insight into how therapists think and treat their patients.

And of course, the conclusion of the book was profound.

Recommended reading, but not light reading. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

From Goodreads: On a remote island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate the wedding of Jules Keegan and Will Slater…Everyone on the island has a secret. Everyone has a motive. And someone won’t leave this wedding alive.

My Review of The Guest List

Creepy. The story, that is. I started out reading this one a little slowly because it definitely set the tone for the mystery and the later scare. The perspective shifts from character to character were really quite masterful, and the story ended with a WOW.

Plot was intricate. Characters were sometimes larger than life, but also had twists of humanity that made the “bad” characters less unlikable.

Once I got about a third of the way in, I just kept going. Always a sign of a good story, and good writing.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

FREEDOM and Reflections on Pie

So what do you write to a stranger? Aside from starting the letter – Hey Stranger? Then you wax poetic about restaurants and food and lines for food. Because everyone can relate to a story about food, right? After all, food isn’t just fuel, it’s art; it’s a hobby –it’s war. Food is war.

Take Elijah, for example. He tells me, with his dark face and lips hardly moving, mumbling slightly—I lean in—Elijah says: take the pie. The pie? I ask. What about the pie? Well, he mumbles a little—I note the grey at his temples. He still keeps his hair short, military style.

“Y’all serve pie two times a day. Lunch and Dinner.”


Well, you know we have diabetics here, and they shouldn’t have pie served twice a day.

I sit back and look at him.

“No one makes you take the pie, Elijah. Really, you can choose to have pie if you want it. Once, twice a day. Or not at all.”

“You shouldn’t be serving it,” he responds.

“Elijah, it’s about self-determination. We give you the choice. Take a piece of pie or don’t.”

“No really, I think y’all should only serve it once a day.”

I sigh. I lean back and I tell him about my grandfather who was in a nursing home at the end of his life. His greatest joy those final days was the scoop of ice cream they offered him on special occasions. I sum it up with—So Elijah, there might be some guys who want pie at lunch or who want pie at dinner. Why should I take that away from them?

Food is war.

Elijah is battling with himself—he forgets to talk about how he wants to vary the menus, how he’s asked for field trips to the Culinary Academy so they can all try the gourmet eggs béarnaise.

[Food is love.]

Elijah is on a mission to save everyone from the very pie that he can’t resist. He’ll tell you he’s a diabetic. He’ll tell you he’s on dialysis. He’s fighting a fight to stay alive. What he won’t tell you is how often the pie has won. He won’t tell you how many times he’s given in to the pie. He just wants you to vanquish the enemy on his behalf.

Remove the pie.

What’s next? We serve yogurt. We serve ice cream. You can even get a decent cup of coffee or two or three. No one will force feed you—at least, not until you move to a higher level of care—and they won’t force-feed you there, either. Rather, you’ll have a nurse sit across from you, with a cup of applesauce, attempting to feed you so you don’t choke. And if you don’t like applesauce, they’ll try something else.
And if you are on chewing restrictions, which means your jaw no longer works the way it was designed, you don’t get a nice slice of pie. Ever again. You get pureed pie. Pureed meat. Pureed something. You don’t get to chew a piece of tangy apple, in its own juice, spiced with a little cinnamon, topped with a bit of tender flaky pastry. You won’t have the opportunity to let the butter crust melt on your tongue.
Why the hell would we stop serving pie to people who can still savor it?
Life’s too short to take away the pie.

Seriously, Elijah, what were you thinking?

This is a piece written in an Amherst Writers & Artists session. All works are deemed to be fiction. For more information about Pat Schneider’s non-profit arts organization, visit Amherst Writers & Artists.


On Libraries

“A library is a miracle. A place where you can learn just about anything, for free. A place where your mind can come alive.” Josh Hanagarne, The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and…

Keep reading

Shot At

The first time I was shot at was after I got out of uniform. I was at a bus stop in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after my closing shift at the chocolate shop. I can’t recall if it was late at night or still daylight. I was seated on the wooden bench and the shot entered the glass shelter, just above my head.

The glass shattered. My head didn’t.

Related Posts

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: