Book Review: Scary Close by Donald Miller

2015-04-26 22.50.13

Greetings friends!

Apologies for the extended absence – between work and studying I haven’t felt like I’ve had the headspace for writing anything other than coursework. But I’m back now and promise to continue to post infrequently until the end of June, when my course finishes for the summer. After that I will have lots more time for writing for fun and you may see a bit more of me… until the autumn when I will have to start studying again…

But that’s future Ceri’s problem. For now I bring you…. a book review!

Scary Close by Donald Miller

I read this book a few weeks ago whilst on holiday. It was a pleasant tonic to my usual diet of fiction, which can get a bit heavy and fantastical sometimes.

Donald Miller is easily one of my favourite non-fiction writers. Reading his books feels like you’re sitting down to a chat with him over coffee (or tea in my case). He is charming, calming and conversational as an author. It never feels like he is lecturing you, like he is an expert with knowledge to impart. He writes as someone struggling with the journey of life who wants to share the wisdom he has picked up along the way. This is the most personal of his books that I’ve read, which makes sense as it is about being more real with the people around you to build strong and deep relationships.

I needed to read this book. One of my words for this year is ‘relate’, and I am really trying to invest in my friendships. I drank this book up, I had to force myself to put it down a number of times so I could reflect on what I had just read. A number of times I was moved to read that someone else had felt and experienced similar things to me and could share them so openly and humbly. Other times I thought, ‘Huh. That’s why people act that way’ or ‘Maybe that’s why I do that too’. It was challenging and comforting all at the same time.

My only real criticism of the book is that I like narrative, and I sometimes struggled to identify the timeline of the events in the book – the chapters jump back and forth in Don’s life and it wasn’t always easy to work out how the different incidents fitted together. But I think that that was partly the nature of the book as a memoir and it didn’t detract from the book’s message.

I’ve browsed through some of the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and was surprised to see a common criticism was Don’s supposed ‘name-dropping’. Throughout the book he mentions conversations with different people who had given him advice on his journey, some of them I had heard of, more of them I hadn’t. This didn’t bother me because each of these friends gave good and helpful advice that furthered the message of the book. I saw it as a man thanking his friends for the wisdom they had shared with him.

One of my favourite things about the book, I must admit, is the accompanying soundtrack which can be downloaded for free from the scaryclose.com website (I’m not sure if you have to have bought the book to get the soundtrack but I expect that this is the case). Some of the songs are referenced in the book and it is helpful to be able to listen to them as Don explains why they meant something to him at that point in his life. There isn’t a song on the album I don’t like and some of them are fast becoming favourites.

If you ever feel like you are hiding your true self and want to be more real with people, read this book. If you are in a cycle of bad relationships, read this book. If you just want to be a better friend, read this book. You will be encouraged. You are good at relationships.

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