This is the second time I’ve read this book. The first time I read it, I did it because a friend of the family recommended it, the second time I did it because I felt like it was time to revisit some of its ideas. As some of you may already know, this is not a fictional book, in fact, it is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read.
It all starts when the author, Donald Miller, gets a call from a couple of film-makers. They’ve read his book Blue like Jazz, and they want to turn it into a movie. Donald is relatively excited to do the project, but as soon as the three of them team up to start writing the script, he starts to notice all the little changes the film makers are doing to make the story more interesting and realizes that his life isn’t interesting at all. Thus begins his search not for meaning, but for a better story.
“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 those stories, and expect our lives to be 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.”
This is a personal book that narrates not only the author’s own journey, but also the stories of the many people Miller encountered along the way, from the happy, almost whimsical events to the tragic ending of things.
One of my favorite things about this book is that it is not a philosophical masterpiece that send us on this path of reflection and self-awareness. It does not point out the absurdities of life and the depths of human nature. The Picture of Dorian Gray is like that and it is probably one of my three favorite books of all time, but its philosophical meaning is not why I read it and re-read it every time I can.
What I really like about A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is that it is a simple book written in a simple (sometimes even silly) manner that invites us to see our lives from a storyteller point of view. Miller’s point is that life doesn’t have to be meaningless or absurd, it doesn’t need to be full of transgressions to be interesting; like any good story, life just needs to have purpose.
This is a quick, easy read about life’s ups and downs, and all that is in between. The author is Christian and since this is a personal book, it obviously has Christian themes, but it never feels like you got slapped in the face with a Bible. I, as a Christian, enjoyed it thoroughly, but I have a feeling that open-minded non-believers will enjoy it as well.