A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: A Book Review
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (2009) is a really unusual book. I didn’t love the writer’s style. There were moments when the detail felt excessive and I was a bit bored. But the premise of the book? The premise was brilliant and thought-provoking and inspiring. I don’t know if I’ll ever read another book by Donald Miller, but I’m very glad to have read this one. Let me tell you about it using the #FridayBookShare template that I used for this review and for this one.
First Line of the Book
Rather than the first line, here is the author’s note from the beginning of the book. It does a great job of introducing Miller’s theme.
If 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 these 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.
Do you wait for things to happen, or do you make them happen yourself? I believe in writing your own story.Charlotte Eriksson
Recruit Fans by Adding the Book Blurb
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 a meaningful narrative.
Miller goes from sleeping all day to riding his bike across America, from living in romantic daydreams to fearful encounters with true 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.
Introduce the Main Character Using Only Three Words
Donald Miller is self-deprecating, introspective and honest.
Delightful Design (Add the Cover Image)
If, like me, you are fascinated by story, I think you would enjoy this book. Or if you are searching for meaning, give it a read.
Miller is a Christian writer published by Thomas Nelson, a Christian press. However, if that’s not your cup of tea, you’ll be pleased to know that, as one reviewer put it, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is “Jesus-lite.”
Your Favourite Line or Scene
Early in the book, Miller attends a screenwriting course taught by the legendary Robert McKee. McKee teaches him the principles of a good story, principles that Miller then tries to apply to his life.
“If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation.” (p.68)
“…your protagonist has to do something good. He can be crabby and have a drinking problem and even be a bit of a jerk, but unless he does something good, the audience won’t want things to work out for him, and they’ll lose interest in your story.” (p.81)
“…humans naturally seek comfort and stability. Without an inciting incident that disrupts their comfort, they won’t enter into a story. They have to get fired from their job or be forced to sign up for a marathon. A ring has to be purchased. A home has to be sold. The character has to jump into the story, into the discomfort and the fear, otherwise the story will never happen.” (p.104-105)
“The ambitions we have will become the stories we live. If you want to know what a person’s story is about, just ask them what they want. If we don’t want anything, we are living boring stories, and if we want a Roomba (vacuum cleaner), we are living stupid stories. If it won’t work in a story, it won’t work in life. (p.124-125)
“…once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time. The more practice stories I lived, the more I wanted an epic to climb inside of and see through till its end.” (p.155)
Imagine producers showing up at your home, wanting to make a movie of your life. Would your story need a lot or a little editing to make it movie worthy?