Book review: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller (****.)


I decided to read Donald Miller’s latest book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, after reading a review by Michael Hyatt (CEO of Thomas Nelson, publisher of the book) – of course that review (here) might have been biased, but it was the way the review that was written that convinced me, reading the author’s note and first chapter online (here), and the the quirky and innovative concept of the book.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years seems on first sight to be a biography (or even an update, since his previous book was also biographical), written as if it were to be made into a hollywood film.  It is however so much more – it’s a reflection on true values, an exercise in soul-searching, and a celebration of (and acceptance and gratitude for) life, in all its minutia and boring detail.

Donald’s book is mildly interesting (and sometimes not) for the first third (for which I would give it three stars), but then rather suddenly switches themes (almost dropping the concept of ‘story for a film’), whereby Donald talks incredibly openly about challenges that he has and continues to face in life.  For this latter part of the book (in fact the majority, representing some two thirds of the ca. 250 pages in the book) I would give five stars (hence four stars overall).

Donald’s approach to this book is through realizing that he can improve his life, he has the potential to help others as well as himself.  Donald’s writing style appears to indicate much self-doubt, uncertainty, and dissatisfaction with himself (at least in the ‘old’ Donald).  If you can’t like yourself, how can you expect others to like you?

From the back cover:

After writing a successful memoir, Donald Miller’s life stalled.  During what should have been the hight 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 story 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 non-profit 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.

I am a member of Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Blogger (BRB) program.  See my other reviews here.

Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Blogger (BRB) team asked that I post this review on the date of release of the book, September 29, 2009.  Unfortunately, due to delayed shipping to Europe I only received the book on the morning of September 28, 2009, and hence did not have time to read the book before its release date.

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