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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?