Donald Miller is best known for his memoir, Blue Like Jazz, but his life seemed to stall after the book was published. In an attempt to bring his memoir to the big screen, Miller learned the elements of storytelling and how to apply those concepts to his own life. This adventure of self-evaluation is chronicled in his book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I learned to Live a Better Story.
The result of his struggle is a unique look at our own lives through Miller’s desire to write a better story in his. There’s also an element of Miller wrestling with God throughout the book. Though the spiritual themes are subtle and secondary to the plot, he does not shy away from the role faith has played in his journey.
“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.” (Chapter 6, page 31)
For those who are writers or are interested filmmaking, this book will make you look at storytelling with a new perspective. It not only explains the elements of fiction writing in a unique way but allows us to look at our own life with those same principles. Understanding your own story can bring sincerity and authenticity to your writing. More importantly, evaluating your own story will bring meaning and purpose to your life.
To be clear, this is not The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren (nor is it trying to be). The book’s main goal is not spiritual formation. It is not a book overtly designed to teach discipleship or faith. Though there are certainly references to scripture and faith, this book’s lessons about God are more subtle than that. It does, however, beg us to look at the story of our lives. How can the principles of storytelling lead us to pursue a more purposeful life?
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is an excellent book filled with wit, humor, and self-discovery. It makes you laugh out loud before punching you in the gut with truth when you turn the page.
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