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Elizabeth Strout, one of my favorite authors, reports that she never took a literature course and she never took a psychology course. Instead, she listens to people. “I have listened and listened and listened my whole life,” Strout says. “If you listen carefully enough, people will tell you exactly the kind of person they are.” […]

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No more secrets

“Secrets work on me like splinters. I like them out.” These words are from a delightful book by Michelle Huneven. It’s called Search, and it’s about a search committee looking for a new minister for a progressive California Universal Unitarian church.

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Her daughter’s secrets

Marilyn, a character in the book Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, had left her daughter, who was only 11 months old, playing on a quilt in the living room and gone into the kitchen to get a cup of tea. Marilyn was startled to find Lydia, who had taken her first steps, […]

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The effort to be normal

One of the important lessons that Harold Fry learns is that he’s not the only one with problems, that he has much in common with the people he meets. In The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce writes, “People were buying milk, or filling their cars with petrol, or even posting letters. And what […]

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More wisdom from Cheryl Strayed

What makes Cheryl Strayed, who wrote Wild about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, special? Her “ability to go to dark places that we don’t like to talk about,” writes Edward Nawotka in an article in the October 22, 2012, issue of the Dallas Morning News. “Urging people to do the same is something she returns […]

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Jeannette Walls shares her secrets

I recently heard Jeannette Walls tell the riveting story she uses in the opening of her best-selling book The Glass Castle. Walls spoke at a benefit luncheon for The Stewpot, which helps feed the homeless in Dallas. If you’ve read the book, you’ll remember that Walls, a New York reporter who was writing about the […]

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