Review: “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story by Donald Miller. Thomas Nelson. 257 pages.

I really like Donald Miller’s writing. I like his philosophy and his approach toward life and Christianity. I first came in contact with him several years ago when I read his book, Blue Like Jazz, which was another memoir (all of his books are memoirs). I compare his writing to Anne LaMott: that frank, casual, realistic, in-your-face relationship-with-God Christianity and writing that gets rid of all the stained glass language that turns a lot of nonbelievers off from Christian authors. It’s been a few years, and I wasn’t sure what I would get from this book, but I read it anyway. I wasn’t disappointed. Here is the Amazon summary:

After writing a successful memoir, Donald Miller’s life stalled. During what should have been the height of his success, he found himself unwilling to get out of bed, avoiding responsibility, even questioning the meaning of life. But when two movie producers proposed turning his memoir into a movie, he found himself launched into a new story filled with risk, possibility, beauty, and meaning.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years chronicles Miller’s rare opportunity to edit his life into a great story, to reinvent himself so nobody shrugs their shoulders when the credits roll. Through heart-wrenching honesty and hilarious self-inspection, Donald Miller takes readers through the life that emerges when it turns from boring reality into meaningful narrative.

Miller goes from sleeping all day to riding his bike across America, from living in romantic daydreams to fearful encounters with love, from wasting his money to founding a nonprofit with a passionate cause. Guided by a host of outlandish but very real characters, Miller shows us how to get a second chance at life the first time around. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is a rare celebration of the beauty of life.

The crux of the story is that he was floundering in his life when two movie producers showed up at his doorstep and wanted to make Blue Like Jazz into a movie. The book goes through that process, especially the painful way they turned a thoughtful, meditative book into something entirely different for cinema. And more importantly, he realizes that life is a story. If you don’t like the story you are living, it is up to you to change it.

The book is critically honest (once again, a nod to Anne LaMott) and I love his writing (just in case you didn’t catch it the first time. For me, a Christian, it’s an opportunity to see Christianity from a very different perspective–even with some very rough edges. Well worth the read.

Five out of five stars.