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

Synopsis: Donald Miller’s memoir Blue Like Jazz is being made into a movie. Changes need to be made to the screenplay to make the story more suitable for the screen. This causes Donald to search out how he can “live a better story”.


Review: This was an interesting, thought provoking book that made me look at my life and ask myself: am I living my best story?

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is a nonfiction account of one man’s quest towards living a more meaningful life.

Here is a quote from the author’s note from the beginning of the book:

“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.”

Donald Miller has some interesting thoughts here about life and writing. His memoir is being turned into a movie, and the producers want to add more interest to his story to make it more appealing to moviegoers. In short, his book was too boring to translate to screen as is, without some major changes/additions. This makes Donald assess his life and attempt things to make life more exciting, more meaningful. Things like biking across the US, hiking to Machu Picchu, and trying to reconnect with his absent father. (Note: I don’t think he was trying to do these things to get them into the screenplay, but rather that someone else looking at his life and saying more needed to be added inspired Donald to make some life changes).

Donald, a writer, decides to look at his life how an author would look at their main character. What makes a good story (life)? What does an author put their main character through in order to create a good story, one that resonates with readers and makes them feel?

This is an interesting concept to take towards life in general, and this book was inspiring in that it made me want to do something more. Now, I don’t think I’ll do anything as out there as hiking Machu Picchu or even bicycling across my town, let alone the USA, but, I did like his thoughts about helping other people and trying to do something constructive with life instead of just being a couch potato.

The book has very Christian themes and I was unaware of this before I started this book, but that wouldn’t have influenced me in any way whether or not to read it. For those worried about it feeling preachy, I didn’t think this was preachy at all, but that rather the Christian faith is a part of Donald, and in order to write an honest memoir, he needs to mention his faith and how he reconciled his faith with his newfound ideas about living “a better story”.

Donald Miller talks about several different writers/inspirational speakers, namely Robert McKee and Josh Shipp, neither of which I had heard of until I read this book.

He also talks about reading works by Viktor Frankl, a neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor, and his work sounds fascinating.

I would recommend A Million Miles In A Thousand Years to anyone who feels like they are in a rut, either in life or in their writing. It was inspirational and made me want to do something. I’m glad that I read it, and I typically do not care for these types of books.

Bottom Line: Inspirational and makes me want to do something worthwhile.

Books Added To My TBR:

  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl – This is such a famous book and yet I’ve never read it, nor really had any idea about the man behind the book.
  • Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes – I don’t think this has anything to do with Donald Miller’s book per se, but I’m inspired to read more of these types of memoirs. This one is by Shonda Rhimes (of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder fame), and the year she decided to say yes to everything.
  • My Year With Eleanor by Noelle Hancock – This memoir is about a gal who decides to do one thing a day that scares her, and the Eleanor in the title refers to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. This one has been on my TBR for awhile now, but hopefully I’ll get to this soon.

 Great Quotes from A Million Miles in A Thousand Years

  • “Somehow we realize that great stories are told in conflict, but we are unwilling to embrace the potential greatness of the story we are actually in. We think God is unjust, rather than a master storyteller.”

  • “The point of a story is the character arc, the change.”

  • “I realized how much of our lives are spent trying to avoid conflict. Half the commercials on television are selling us something that will make life easier. Part of me wonders if our stories aren’t being stolen by the easy life.”

Have you read A Million Miles in A Thousand Years? What did you think?



10 thoughts on “Book Review: A Million Miles in A Thousand Years by Donald Miller

    1. Glad to hear Blue Like Jazz is good! I haven’t read that one yet. This one takes place after Blue Like Jazz, and details Don’s realization that he needs to live a better story as Blue Like Jazz is being made into a movie. It doesn’t go into every detail about his life (growing up, etc), but is more about how he changes his outlook on how to live life. I think he’s got another book out, Scary Close, which is more about relationships, and talks about him finding love, so that one would chronologically follow this one.
      I don’t think I’d classify this as autobiography, just because those always seem to be so factual, I’d rather call it more of a memoir, snippets of thoughts on life and how to live and details of various things he goes through while seeking out a more meaningful life.

      Liked by 1 person

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