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

Don Miller Book CoverIf you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you wouldn’t cry at the end when he drove off the lot, testing the windshield wipers.  You wouldn’t tell your friends you saw a beautiful movie or go home and put a record on to think about the story you’d seen.  The truth is, you wouldn’t remember that movie a week later, except you’d feel robbed and want your money back.  Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo.

But we spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to feel meaningful.  The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won’t make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either.

And so begins the new book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller, author of Blue Like JazzIn a moment, I’ll tell you how you can get a free copy. For a taste of what’s in store, as well as information on Miller’s 65-city speaking tour, interviews and more, see my previous post.

Miller asserts that a big part of living a better and more rewarding and fulfilling life is about creating meaningful stories within which to live it.  He cautions though that, The reward you get from a story is always less than you thought it would be, and the work is harder than you imagined.  The point of a story is never about the ending, remember.  It’s about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle.

If you’re like me, you find it difficult to be motivated by words written on a page.  I don’t know why I’m wired that way.  It may explain why only in the last several years have I become an avid reader.  But despite this personal quirk, I found A Million Miles to be filled with thought-provoking and motivational moments.  One of my favorites:

I’ve never walked out of a meaningless movie thinking all movies are meaningless.  I only thought the movie I walked out on was meaningless.  I wonder, then, if when people say life is meaningless, what they really mean is their lives are meaningless. I wonder if they’ve chosen to believe their whole existence is unremarkable, and are projecting their dreary life on the rest of us.

If you’re aware change is needed but are struggling with the motivation to make that change, you might appreciate this:

Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life.  It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you are going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it.  It’s like that with writing books, and it’s like that with life.  People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen.  But joy costs pain.

He goes on to write that, because of this, we often have to force ourselves to create these stories:

We have to get up off the couch and turn the television off, we have to blow up the inner-tubes and head to the river.  We have to write the poem and deliver it in person.  We have to pull the car off the road and hike to the top of the hill.  We have to put on our suits, we have to dance at weddings.

As I read the book during a recent trip to visit my ailing grandfather, I couldn’t help but think about how little time we all have to create meaningful stories.  My grandfather, at 91, was facing the end and I, if fortunate enough to live as long, was nearly half-way there myself, I thought.  What was I going to do differently?  What changes would I make?

That was three weeks ago.  Since that time I’m glad to say that, while probably considered baby steps, I’ve begun a few new stories in my life.  Both my wife and I, if we’re not careful, can make a weekend of laying around and doing nothing (me much more so than her).  Already, we’ve discussed the need to change this habit along with specific goals toward which to shoot.  Just one example, but there are others.  Like I said, baby steps.

Meanwhile, my grandfather’s funeral is tomorrow.  And while he may be gone, I’m glad to have shared a few meaningful stories with him along the way.  The stories he fostered are what will live on beyond tomorrow.  Your meaningful stories and mine, if we choose, can begin today.


Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers, I have a copy of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years to give away.  And if Chaffee Management comes through, I may even have several more (Update: 5 more copies for giveaway have just been made available).  For a chance at snagging one, you must take the following three actions:

  1. Leave a comment below. Tell me why you’d like this book.  I really want to know.  I might even get to know you better.
  2. Fill out this special form. I have set up a separate contact form to make it convenient for you to provide your mailing address.  Please do not include your address with your comment.  This will automatically disqualify you.
  3. Twitter a link to this post. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can use Facebook.  Please copy and paste the following into your tweet/update:

Reading: A book review of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. @THEjeffbrown is giving away copies! http://bit.ly/oju0P

Yes, I know if more people read this, it will hurt your chances of getting a copy yourself.  But the only incentive the publisher (or author’s manager) has to provide books to giveaway is the free publicity you and I collectively provide.

On Thursday, based solely on my arbitrary and subjective evaluation of the comments, I will select a winner(s). If you are selected, I will notify you via email. If you don’t hear from me, you can assume you didn’t make the cut.

Question: Why do want a copy of this book?  What do you hope to get out of it?


34 Responses

  1. First of all, great post. If I don’t *win* this book I’m definitely going out to buy it. You’ve got me hooked already. It sounds like it’s covering a lot of the questions I’ve been challenging myself with during the last couple of months.

    How do I want to live my life? How do I want to be remembered? What is my purpose?

    It seems that too often we don’t think about these questions and our lives become wrapped up in meaningless endeavors, such as the pursuit of wealth over inner-peace or happiness. We’re only given one shot at living a life fulfilled and defined by purpose and I’m determined to succeed.

    Actually, Jeff, let me just go ahead and take my name out of the hat. I’m going to promote this book with three steps above, but I want to support it as well by purchasing it. This just sounds like a great read and very relevant to my current endeavors. Thanks for sharing!

    My condolences too on the loss of your grandfather.

  2. I just recently saw part of a conference that was recorded the night that Don Miller spoke. I was amazed by his stage presence and how he spoke to the audience. He is awesome! I am about to begin reading Blue Like Jazz and would love to have this book also!

  3. Why do I want a copy of this book? What do you hope you get out of it.

    Why I want a copy of this book is because recently my husband and I have made some life changing decisions. We have been trying to have a baby for a long time, with no success, so we have decided that we are going to adopt, but not only adopt but we are going to adopt a child with special needs. I have always wanted to adopt but I had to get over the selfish want of wanting one of my own. We know God has chosen this path for our lives and we are looking forward to it, even though it will be a difficult and long road, the ending will be great!

    What I hope to get out of the book is a way to look at life a different way. Adoption is a big step for us(Me) really and we are needing to start new chapters in our lives, and we need to do those that are pleasing to God. We need to change the old and bring in the new. I want to read to see what he says about creating new memories.

  4. Wow. This book sounds amazing!

    How often do we sit around admiring other peoples life stories but never get out to make our own? Life isn’t meant to be meaningless. We’re all here for a purpose and that is to live out the story that God has already written for us.

    In my life, for example, I work 8-5…every day (except of course on the weekends). I found myself wanting more than this. I kept thinking, “I know I was made for more.” So, after a lot of prayer, I decided to go back to school and get my masters in something I’ve been passionate about for awhile now. I think this book would encourage me to keep on doing what I’m doing and to make my life stories count.

    I obviously haven’t read the book yet but reading your review on it makes me want to read it even more!

  5. This book sounds awesome. It is a subject that is barely touched on. This reminds me of a question that I’ve heard asked Are we living or just existing. I think that in life most of us are just existing and don’t really take the chances that life gives us. I feel that this book would help me since I often wonder if I’m making the right decisions. I know that God has everything happen for a reason but I have been a huge slump since I work a job that doesn’t utilize my talents or skills so every day I feel more burnt out than the next. I’m currently in school but feel I need stronger direction in my life and I feel this book would help

  6. I’m a Donald Miller fan and I’d like a copy of his book just because he wrote it! This one, specifically, appeals to me because I have been thinking a lot about my “story” over the past year. I don’t want to just exist. I want to make a significant difference. I want to live the kind of life that people will recall and tell to others….not so I can be famous, but so I can influence others. A life like that is made up of little stories like that. So, this book has me drooling……

  7. I have grown cynical over the last few years towards “self help” books; they all seem to say the same trite, cleched things. This book sounds like it may be different and offer a fresh perspective on LIVING life – something I am struggling to do and to teach my children. Life is more than work, life is more than school. Life is more than my stuff!!

  8. i just picked up a new book last week i have to rummage through & with new child, it takes longer to do that. so don’t throw me into the mix, but i’ll just borrow someone’s when they finish theirs. thanks for the heads up review.

  9. Jeff, First – I am sorry for the loss of your grandfather. What a blessing for you to be able to spend some time with him before his passing.

    Second…I will play your little game!

    # 6 on “Stu’s List of Favorite Quotes of All Time” comes from Dan Eldon. It’s simple and to the point:

    “The Journey is the Destination.”

    I spend too much time thinking…when I get there, I’ll do this, or when x happens I’ll be ok, or when so and so does this then all will be well with the world. Its always over there…off in the distance…

    But then I realize…what am I doing today to make “over there” and “tomorrow” and “in the future” happen?

    From Reading ‘Blue Like Jazz’, I know that Don Miller stirs my heart. From reading your quotes from ‘A Million Miles’ above, I know that Don would help me move from wishing for the Destination…to making more of the Journey.

  10. A friend of mine is reading this book right now. I want a copy so I can read along with him to discuss it and “our” stories.

    I have heard a lot about the book and am very interested.

    Thanks for the opportunity.

  11. I have been searching for awhile for what my life means and how to live it.Not just go through the days but what it actually all means and how to fill in the pages from the Once Upon a time to The End…. this book sounds amazing and I know some many people who have been touched by it. Who have now become excited about LIVING and telling their stories.

  12. I am a student minister in Amarillo, TX and I have encountered many students (mostly college age) who loved Blue Like Jazz. I read it and likewise enjoyed the book. I would love to get this free copy so I can read it and be able to share it with my students in my ministry. I am excited about this book and the stir that it can create among young people

  13. Your blog review definitely got my attention… so much so that I’m not even going to enter the contest. I just ordered it from Amazon 🙂

  14. I would love to read this book! My husband and I lost our jobs 7 months ago and we’re not down and out, but we need a new outlook in life. This book seems to really hit the nail on the head about taking the initiative to DO something to change your life. But how? This book just might open our eyes to something new.

  15. …WHAT?!!!!…we all don’t get to drive away with a Volvo….? I guess that I really do need to read A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS. Could you send me a copy?

  16. Life is made up of the stories of each day. I’m just starting to realize that each day is a gift. Each day is an opportunity. Each day is a new story. How we choose to write these stories can make our life count for something or nothing at all.

    I’m looking forward to reading the book. It sound like it addresses where I am right now.

  17. Love him as a writer. Would love to read this one. No worries if i’m not picked.

  18. I have enjoyed Donald Millers other books and have hit that point in life where I need motivation to get off the couch and do. 2.5 years into marriage with a little on the way no is the time to move on ideas that stir the heart. Thanks for the review and the change to win the book.

  19. My Grandfather, the man I knew as father for 95 % of my time also died last week. The last of the generation.Mysterious Grumpy old man with a huge heart…… A story to tell, not unlike any one elses really just the depth of mine varies some what and the degree may be different but we all want love acceptance and and a lap to cry upon……………Change !I ache for real “God given” change, not change that we simply mess around with at times.
    Recently I have stepped down from all my POSITIONS and find this has been liberating regardless of talk as to why I did this It was my heart, my decision, my life my revleation.but change ….not really …Sometimes in all our doing we forget , that this life it is about being in Christ . This is what I think the book will reveal. I will buy it regardless of “winnning or not” and if as good as I believe it is going to be, knowing the author and His works, will probably pay forward a few copies too…..Thanks for your post and commitment and honesty.
    All good things from just another woman with “A story to tell”

  20. I would love this book because I have lived one of those ‘story’ lives that I know will someday be used to help reach people who are where I once was. Living through abuse as a child and into a marriage, developing coping skills that worked but left me empty, all while maintaining the ‘all is perfect’ life on the outside to now living a life fully devoted and committed to wherever God leads. Yes, I would love to have this book!!

  21. Donald Miller’s books have always come at a time when I desperately needed not only a word from God, but a reminder of just the fact that He is here with me always.

    I’ve been looking forward to this book release for months now – mostly because I’m in a new season of transition and I really believe that God’s going to use it in my life – either to change my heart in several areas or strengthen my resolve and my determination of my understanding of His will.

    I have a lot of important decisions coming up in the next month and even the next year and I’m desperately seeking the will of God for my life. I know that “Through Painted Deserts” completely changed my heart and outlook on life and change and I believe that “A Million Miles” will do the same.

  22. Come on … Penguin Sex? Why wouldn’t I want a copy of this book? That and I’m too broke to buy a copy. I’m responsible for the sale of soooo many books through my personal marketing / viiraling … I do not feel bad asking for a freebie.

    Thanks for your review!

  23. Thanks for the review.

  24. Jeff…

    Thanks for the review. Life is all about writing stories. Too many people have become contempt with “just living”….which in most respects is 8-5, stable job, stable income, have a nice family (2.5 children), a nice home, live in a nice neighborhood…..wow….it makes my head hurt. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I have a job that works with hurting childen and is very unconventional, but even I need to write greater stories with my life……..I didn’t write this to get a free book, in fact, please do not select me…give it to another individual who could really use it…I’ll throw a couple bucks down and buy it. Just wanted to thank you for the review. It has heightened my desire to pick up a copy.


  25. I would like a copy of this book because I remember how much Blue Like Jazz impacted me when I read it, and wonder how this book might do the same. I hope to get out of this book, some motivation to live life a little more actively and less passively (i.e. sitting on the couch). And possibly some artistic inspiration.

    Thanks for the review.

  26. I would like a copy of this book because I am at a point where I am trying to figure out the story of what life will be going forward. I watched the interview with Michael Hyatt and it sounds as though it really speaks to where I am in life these days. I have lived outside of the US with my job for the last two years, remarried when I never expected that and feel that I am being led to completely change what I do now. Scary? You bet. I’m looking at anything that gives insight into how others do it and hoping to gain some insight from the book. Thanks for the opportunity.

  27. My sincere condolences on the loss of your grandfather. My sincere praise on taking steps to make your life story more memorable and more meaningful. Now to look at the questions you asked.

    Question: Why do want a copy of this book? What do you hope to get out of it?

    Answer: With the title making me curious, I hurried to the Web site to learn a bit more. Sheer curiosity from the title makes me desire more knowledge of what is written between the two covers. Making my life a more memorable story would be another reason to dive into this book.
    After reading and digesting the material I would hope to take another look at my life story. Is it interesting? Could it be more meaningful? What about my life becoming more memorable? After thinking through these questions, I would attempt to make the needed changes…and move on from that point.

  28. I heard Donald Miller tell the story of a friend who was having problems with his teenage daughter, and Donald suggested that the father needed to help the girl live a more exciting story. In the process the entire family was changed. That idea of “creating an exciting story” for my family changed my personal approach, the way I looked at my kids, and directed a change in my ministry. This new book excites me for what new challenge and change his insight and thought could bring!

  29. Hi Jeff. First of all, let me say, you’re the ONLY Jeff Brown I even care about. :~) Sorry about your G-Pa.

    Why do I want to win this book? This year has been full of transitions for me. Lost my job in April, youngest baby graduated in May, got married in June, started a new business in July…

    I just realized that life is all about the journey. You could literally exit stage left at any moment. I want to learn all I can about how other people find truth and meaning in the transitions in their lives. I am not a religious person, but believe very sincerely that the biggest challenge is finding the philosophy that works for you and go with it!

    So thanks for the chance, and sign me up!


  30. Why do I want to win this book? Because I’m too cheap to buy it.


    Because it’s easy, especially as I work with churches all day long to get focused on the work and not enough on the kingdom, and of the life I’m creating. Because I know that I often get distracted by things, good things, and miss the great things.

    And I’d like to win it so that I can read it and pass it along to someone else.

  31. I’ve always wanted to leave behind a story, but I think my life is not very exciting. Then I realized that I pick up stories of peoples lives when I travel. A Preacher and his family out in the wilderness of Minnesota when native peoples were roaming free. A 13 year old boy who lived and worked on his families farm in Ohio. A nurse from the Civil War. Diary’s, Journal’s and letters all placed together to make a story. Everyone has a story to tell. You may not think your life story is interesting but you are living history right now. Someone in the future might find it very interesting. A glimpse into the past. I’d like to read the book to see if there’s a path toward writing your own story.

  32. Jeff,

    Saw your book on Michael Hyatt’s facebook page. Found Michael’s blog a few months ago. I almost have a book ready
    to publish. I knew Thomas nelson publishes Dave Ramsey’s
    stuff which I’m a big fan. So just finding about your new book
    is a journey.

    John Maxwell mentions doing things to create memorable occasions. What will my kids remember in the future sitting around watching tv on a Sat afternoon or taking them on a Day Hike in one of the National Parks that are less then an hour from our house. The journey is all to itself. I recently found my first car I had in High School. My kids are so jazzed to help dad restore the car. It needs lots of work.
    My neighbor commented “Half the project is the journey”
    Loading up the truck with parts from people I have found on craigslist.

    I will pick up your book either way Jeff

    Take care,
    Chuck Gerchow

  33. I want this book primarily because every book that Don has written has had an impact on my life. I am even more intrigued after your review. My wife and I moved to Nashville 3 years ago led by God. It has been a very painful experience, but we also know that we will have a story to tell and use for God’s glory when it is over. And that joy that Don writes of…

  34. My movie even bores me! With years and miles still left, I think there is still something left to salvage.. As an avid movie fans, my wife and I watch all the credits roll and aftewards discuss what the movie communicated to us. We new this entertainment media was created by someone, but I have never realized that I, too, was writing a tale. If I am bored, I need to change the script. I’d welcome Miller’s book as a catalyst to this new adventure, love story, mystery, comedy…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: