When I read Blue Like Jazz years ago, I immediately formed a view of Donald Miller that was probably unfair. I had just spent a few months dealing with insecure male Christians, so to read an entire book about it was terrible timing. I pretty much boxed Miller into a specific category and forgot about him. Last year, a friend invited me to the Denver Prayer Breakfast where Miller was the keynote speaker. I went, curious to see how he would be in real life. He is an engaging, thought-provoking speaker and I was very impressed with all he’s done to build stories and mentoring. He has built a brand that is important and it helped me see beyond his early memoir.
In his newest book, Scary Close Donald Miller uses his gift of storytelling to take the reader through his journey into vulnerability. Using the pursuit and engagement of his now-wife as a framework, he tells small stories and moments from his life to build examples of ways he has found helpful in overcoming a fear of intimacy.
Scary Close is a fast, easy read. Even while battling a cold and with an active child, I managed to read it in a couple of days. While I don’t think the speed at which I read a book is telling of its quality, I will say Miller’s style is approachable and engaging. His stories follow a definite theme, but also stand alone, which makes the book easy to pick up.
This is the third book by Miller that I’ve read and each time I finish, I feel slightly disappointed. Yes, a good story has been told and I’ve found some connections to my own life through it. However, Miller always flirts with the idea of going deeper into his story, of making a broader connection to humanity, and of taking the book beyond a memoir. He just never does. I keep waiting for more depth and maturity in his writing, but it continues to feel just like a conversation. And not a particularly life-changing conversation, but just one I might have in passing with an acquaintance. For a book about vulnerability, I was hoping for Miller to be a bit more, well, vulnerable.
For fans of his work, Scary Close will deliver. It is true Donald Miller and he is very honest about his journey and process. This book is definitely geared for people who are in long-term relationships or are pursuing long-term relationships. Miller touches a bit on vulnerability within friendships, but I would imagine this book would fall a bit flat for a single person.
One thing that did stand out for me (and earned it an extra star in my rating) is that it prompted deeper conversation. As Frank and I processed themes in Scary Close, our own conversations went all over – from what intimacy looked like in the Garden of Eden to how vulnerability and intimacy differ between friendships and marriage relationships. Maybe this book would have been better suited to a book club environment rather than an individual reader.
How do you best connect with people? For me, it’s while I’m walking or hiking.
GIVEAWAY! I am giving away my copy of Scary Close. To enter, leave a comment about how you connect with others – do you like to be active, enjoy a cup of coffee, or have a shared experience? I’ll randomly select a winner on Friday, March 13, 2015. (United States addresses only.)