A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life

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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 ...

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Overview

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 meaningful narrative.

Miller goes from sleeping all day to riding his bike across America, from living in romantic daydreams to fearful encounters with 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
For most of us, our entire lives are works-in-progress: We reevaluate the past even as we take tentative steps into the future. For spiritual writer Donald Miller, that process assumed strange form when he was approached by director Steven Taylor about transforming his Blue like Jazz into a movie. The challenge of systematically editing the story of his life not only taught him new lessons about where he had been but also awakened new insights about where he wanted to go. A most unconventional memoir about life's rare second chances.
Publishers Weekly
Miller, the accidental memoirist who struck gold with the likable ramble Blue Like Jazz, writes about the challenges inherent in getting unstuck creatively and spiritually. After Jazz sold more than a million copies but his other books didn't follow suit, he had a classic case of writer's block. Two movie producers contacted him about creating a film out of his life, but Miller's initial enthusiasm was dampened when they concluded that his real life needed doctoring lest it be too directionless for the screen. Real stories, he learned, require characters who suffer and overcome. In desultory fashion, Miller sets out to change his own lifeā€”to be the kind of guy who seeks out his father, chases the girl and undertakes a quest. Along the way, he comes to understand God as a master storyteller who doesn't quite control where his characters are going. An unexpected bonus of this book is Miller's insights into the writing process. Readers who loved Blue Like Jazz will find here a somewhat more mature Miller, still funny as hell but more concerned about making a difference in the world than in merely commenting on it. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780785213062
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/29/2009
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Donald Miller is a speaker, founder of The Mentoring Project,and author of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years,Blue Like Jazz, Searching for God Knows What, Through Painted Deserts, and Father Fiction. He lives in Nashvlle, TN.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 113 )
Rating Distribution

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(62)

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(29)

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(16)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 113 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2009

    Donald Miller does it again!

    Miller gets more in depth with life issues with A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Great story and very relevant. It really makes the reader take a second glance at his or her own life and pushes the reader to reevaluate priorities.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

    It's not very often I pick up a book and read from cover to cover in one sitting. This time I did. All 255 pages of it. ok.I guess I did stop to make myself some ramen noodle soup, but other than that I was completely overwhelmed by Donald Miller's new book.

    The truth is that I have a copy of his older book, Blue Like Jazz, but have never finished it. It wasn't that it wasn't good, it just didn't overwhelmed me to finish it. I think I'm going to back and finish reading that book too.

    I guess it wouldn't be too much to say that Donald Miller is probably one of the best story tellers I've come across in a while. I haven't been this mesmerized by an authors ability to pain pictures with words since I read Wilson Rawls' Where the Red Fern Grows as a child. Why? Simply put, he tells a good story.

    In the opening of his book, Donald writes this:

    ".if what we choose to do with our lives doesn't make a story meaningful, it won't make a life meaningful either."

    This book basically is set on explaining this principle. From sharing stories of how he when through the painstaking process of rewriting his life for a movie, to falling for a girl with a cute nose during a grueling trek through the mountains to Machu Picchu, he somehow inspires you to live for something more. And subtly yet profoundly her establishes that this is best understood in living the life of biblical faith.

    So what would I say about this book? Probably what Max Lucado said when asked to submit a review of the book. "I already want to re-read this book."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 19, 2011

    Memoir and Writer's Inspiration

    Donald Miller writes in a friendly, personal tone, and tells it like it is. This is both a memoir and an inspiration to writers. But the bigger aim is to remind us that there's a life to be LIVED, not just days spent waiting for something big to happen. Your life is big, and if you don't pay attention, you might miss it.

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  • Posted August 30, 2010

    My Story Rediscovered

    The honesty of this book is refreshing. Not only is the story inspiring, but the pages leaves you reflecting on your own life throughout the entire book. Donald Miller does a beautiful job at humbly describing his own life's journey while pointedly hitting your heart and spirit with questions that you need to answer for yourself. Often times stories are a way for people to escape and forget about their life. But this is no ordinary story. This is one that brings you in, but doesn't allow you to forget about your real story - it leads you into a journey of discovery for yourself.

    I'm amazed at how Miller weaves different stories into this book. In one chapter we're finding out about the movie being created on his life - only to discover that this movie is really leading us into Miller's own discovery of his story. He takes the reader on a journey and as he describes and discovers what "story" really is - we get to find out the true definition by learning about his and uncovering our own.

    I would highly recommend this book. Especially to those who are inspired to write. Also to those who have thought about what their life is all about. After you read this, pick up Blue Like Jazz too!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    Inspiring read

    There aren't many books that change the way you live, but for me this is one of those books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    I thought it was a great book, then I read it a second time and it was even better.

    Donald Miller is an author that makes you feel like your sitting next to him on the couch as you read his book. Very open, transparent and to the point. This book has something for everyone that has become bored and complacent in life. Really woke me up and made me take a look at the "Story" I'm telling with my life.

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  • Posted April 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Easy to read and thought provoking

    I was recently at a mental health provider's retreat and another participant mentioned this book. She made a reference to one point in the story that the author talks about in which he discusses why people in Denmark are so happy. He points out that people there have lower expectations than any other countries in the world. Donald Miller does a great job of talking about improving one's life story by living it instead of just observing and writing about it. He puts himself in situations he might not otherwise have participated in including going on a cross country bike tour, helping his friend with a school he was building in Uganda, and finally reconnecting with the father he never knew. The book makes you really think a bit more deeply about your own life and what kinds of things you're doing to create a better "story." He spends a lot of time talking about what it takes to create a meaningful experience in your life by trying to do it himself. I love how he opens up the book (which completely drew me in ) by saying that most of us don't remember half our lives and he has one friend who maintains a log of all his memories on a daily basis, even the mundane ones. It's a great, easy read but with very deep thought provoking information to reflect upon. I consider it a great summer book for guys and gals alike. It does include references to god in it, but doesn't leave you feeling pressured in any way to believe any specific dogma. You can just tell that he brings spiritually into it without trying to impose any particular beliefs on his readers. Great book and highly recommended!

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  • Posted April 20, 2010

    Editing Your Life for a Better Story

    A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is Donald Miller's new autobiography, following his memoir - Blue Like Jazz. After writing Blue Like Jazz, he was approached by movie producers with an offer to make a movie of his life. As they write a script for the movie, he learns that writing a book is very different from making a movie. In fact, sometimes he feels that he doesn't know who they're writing about despite the fact that the main character is himself. As he writes the script for the movie, he realizes that he has the chance to 'edit' his life this time and create a better story. Not only does he do this with his movie, he also applies his new lessons to his real life.

    When I first received A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Millerfrom Thomas Nelson Publishing, I started to read it because it was already way past the publisher's deadline. About thirty pages in, I started wondering if the book's pace is going to get better. By the time I finished about 75 pages, I was quite bored with it. Then all my other books arrived and I found other more interesting books to read.

    Thinking about my obligation to Thomas Nelson, I picked it up again just the other day and resolved to finish reading it. A long time ago, I remember watching a movie with my husband about a single mother and her daughter who migrated to America. It seemed slow at first, the story would become boring at times, but we couldn't stop watching it because of the expectation that it would be better soon. When we finished watching the movie, we loved it despite it's very slow start.

    It was actually the same thing with A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, it was slow reading at first. As if, there was hardly anything happening. I wanted to put it down once more, but it seemed to me that it was getting more and more interesting. As it turned out, I finished the whole book in two days straight because when it got interesting, I couldn't put it down.

    It is an excellent book written by an excellent writer. It is filled with stories of the people that touched Donald Miller's life. It is a book that is full of inspirations as he gets to edit his own life. It makes you feel that you too, have the chance to edit your own life. It's beautiful and inspiring. I highly recommend this to anyone who needs encouragement in his life. If you feel that you have failed or live a boring life, this book will change you.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    Donald Miller's new book lives up to his previous work: Creative, daring, and movingly lyrical.

    In a daring quest to live outside of his comfort zone and make his life mean something, Donald Miller, with detailed theories backed by personal experience and colorful character descriptions, doesn't just write a good story. It's a story about stories, about people who make their lives worth being told as a story. As he shares his own tale, Miller lays a road behind him for the reader to follow. Very good for those looking for thought provoking ideas, soul searching quotes, or anyone who has ever wondered if their life would make a good movie. As an actor/playwrite I was able to apply his ideas to both my work and my life. The first few chapters are a little slow moving and self contemplative, but after Miller gets to his point, applicable and worth the time it takes to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2010

    As Poignant as Blue Like Jazz and Even More Profound

    I have absolutely loved reading this book. Donald Miller takes us into his thoughts and fears, struggles and triumphs as he (and we with him) discover what it means to live a "good story" in life. I don't think I even realized how complacent I had become to my own life until Don pointed it out (and rather bluntly, at that). Most of us tend to find that "comfortable" place in life and settle. We long for adventure, we want to achieve those dreams we've always had in the back of our minds, we'd love to be someone different, to do something different, but our sedentary nature and culture convinces us that it's too risky, too hard, or too impractical to try to change. We begin to believe things are the way they are and that's how they'll always be. But Don challenges us to think otherwise. With wit, wisdom, and faith, Don encourages us to no longer be content to simply get by in life but to truly live. I've been a huge fan of Donald Miller's for years, and this one is my new favorite.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Honest, thought provoking, loved it!

    After finishg this book, I immediately ran to get Blue Like Jazz. Good stuff. I admire his ability to share such real life thoughts and struggles in the context of larger views on faith, morality, even politics-and still keep it engaging and relevant. Plus, anyone who is reviewd as "the male version of Anne Lamott" gets my vote instantly! Consider me a definite Donald Miller fan.

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  • Posted February 22, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Living a Better Story

    I don't know what it is about the way Donald Miller writes, but I really enjoy it. It feels like a one-on-one conversation that is had in comfy chairs over a cup of coffee. I just finished his latest book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and I enjoyed it just as much as Blue Like Jazz and Searching for God Knows What.

    Again, Donald takes us on a journey through his life, what he's dealing with as he is presented with the opportunity to turn one of his books into a movie. Writing the screenplay turns out to be a bit different than he expected and he learns that what makes a good story might help him make a good life.

    One of the things that struck me the most was his comparison of God as an author and us as characters. As an author, Donald talks about how despite the fact that he creates the characters, they still do what they want. The same happens with the way we live our lives. We choose to go our own way and do things the Writer wouldn't want for us. Donald admits: "It would always have been better to obey the Writer, the one who knows the better story." I loved that analogy. It gave me a whole new perspective on my life and how I relate to God. I want to live a better story.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Posted February 21, 2010

    Donald, who just wrote his autobiography, is offered to help co-write a script for a movie based on his book. It gives him a chance to edit his life.

    Donald, who just wrote his autobiography, is offered to help co-write a script for a movie based on his book. The new project gives him a chance - as he puts it - to edit his life, look at it from a new perspective and make decisions about life's priorities for years to come. In the process he finds he can still become a protagonist capable of overcoming conflict to achieve what he always wanted.

    The story itself is not a page turner - but for all the right reasons. Following Donald's reflections and life edits I felt compelled to scribble on the margins and put the book aside for a while to think about my life and necessary "edits". One of the biggest advantages of the story is how various colorful characters, by virtue of their lives crossing Donald's path, influence the protagonist to constantly edit his best self, to drop the assumption of himself having arrived at some final version of life. All in all, by the process of putting together the movie version of his autobiography, Donald successfully drops his "couch potato" lifestyle and embarks on a bike trip across the Southern US. Somewhere between the start and the finish lines, he arrives at better himself - of all audiences: mostly for his own sake.

    I'm thankful to Thomas Nelson Publishing for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    First Donald Miller book I've read.

    I am not one given to melancholy memoirs, so I never picked up "Blue Like Jazz". But the idea of someone editing their life for a movie fascinated me. I loved it. Miller's adventure of self-discovery -- going from melancholy couch potato to reluctant athlete -- is hilarious and inspiring. He did what most people ONLY write about. And his sense of humor and level of insight is nothing short of poetic. I doubt I will ever read his earlier work now, I like this Donald Miller, and I can't wait to see where he goes next and what he develops into.

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  • Posted February 19, 2010

    Another great book by a wonderful author

    A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller is a wonderful book that I would recommend to everyone. He's the author who wrote one of my favorite books, Blue Like Jazz, so I was really excited to read his newest book.

    Just like Blue Like Jazz, A Million Miles definitely leaves you with many thought provoking ideas. From the very first chapter, he has you trying to wrap your head around the concept that we don't really remember most all of our childhood. We start out life and for the first third of it, we have very minimal recollection if any. Interesting, no? This thought definitely grabbed me from the get go and I continued throughout the rest of the book being very intrigued.

    Millers writing style is a little unusual if you aren't used to it. This book it was particularly prevalent. He does break the book up into chapters like most writers do, but within those chapters, his writing can get a little choppy as he goes from one random thought to another entirely different story, then back to his main point. It can be tough to follow at times, but if you hang in through it, it's worth it.

    I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys being pushed outside of their box a little. A Million Miles makes you think about stopping to smell the roses and getting back to the basics, which I think all of us should do every so often.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    His best so far

    Confession: I thought Blue Like Jazz was decent but WAY overrated (and if, like me, the only thing you remember from it now is the confession-booth episode you know I'm right). And this one's ostensibly about a MOVIE about Blue Like Jazz, so... but it's really not. It's about -- as result of doing a movie about an increasingly fictional "Donald Miller" -- Donald confronting himself, not liking what he sees, and doing something about it. And in the process, lays his heart out on the table for all to see. Change is hard, but it's doable, and if y'r facing a transitional stage of yr own, you oughta pick this book up, see what it looked like for one man, allow yrself to feel the pain that comes with that change and get the confirmation you need that y'r gonna be a better person on the other side of it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2010

    what makes a story a good read - and how that applies to life.

    The author of "Blue Like Jazz" has another attention-getting book - "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years". thanks to Thomas Nelson I got a complementary copy to review. The books have the same weird humor, but the latest one has much more emotion and is much more likely to prompt a reader to introspection!

    This time Miller's writing his own story - thinly disguised... Here's the plot: a writer gets so caught up in his writing and fictionalizing to 'make a good exciting read' that he ignores that fact that his own life is boring. It's passing by and he doesn't even realize he's not living it!

    While he's concentrating on making up a good story, he is offered the chance to write a movie script of his life. He is attempting to conjur up something that people will want to read. So - using first person narrative Miller asks the question - "What makes a good story?" Through his own journey he gives a good example for others to evaluate their life goals and values; what's really important.

    By the end of the book, Miller comes to the conclusion that a life lived well should make a good read. I can recommend this book, but be prepared to think about your own story. Does it need to be edited to be something others would consider 'reading'?

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  • Posted January 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Miller's message is powerful in its simplicity: Self-editing is within our power

    I read Blue Like Jazz, Miller's first and wildly successful memoir, in what seems now another life and another frame of mind. But Donald Miller is travelling with me in a freakish parallel universe. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years tracks Miller learning to view his life through a camera lens. This hook, life as a story, snagged my inner writer, pulling me through the book as Miller sharpens his point.

    The book begins as Miller is approached to edit Blue Like Jazz into a movie script, turning his (mainly internal) meanderings into events that happen to a character named Don. As a writer myself, complete with an overactive inner monologue, I appreciated the irony of Miller reshaping his memoir to translate onscreen. Reconstructing his quiet, emotional growth into visible activity seems daunting. Yet realizing that movie moments are made when the character is doing something, not when he's thinking, leads to Miller's extraordinary personal growth in A Million Miles.

    As he begins to edit, Miller posits, "My entire life had been designed to make myself more comfortable, to insulate myself from the interruption of my daydreams." Instead of continuing that story, Miller swaps it for a new one, testing out action/adventure to start (he climbs the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu while struggling with weight issues), then drama (his first serious relationship), and finally mellowing into an arthouse flick (he bikes across the country with a group of misfits) to wrap.

    A Million Miles is about the transition from an easy acceptance of life to scaring yourself out of complacency. Miller's memorable characters - particularly the vivid Bob Goff - imbue his stories with clarity and an honest, translucent feel that let readers embrace the end lesson.

    If most of life is forgettable, it follows that what we'll recall - easiest or most or fondly - are the absurd moments, the unscripted. Miller's voice has matured, maybe with age, maybe just with the change in story. His weaving, multi-layered tales build a message powerful in its simplicity: Self-editing is within our power.

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  • Posted January 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Donald Miller

    "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Donald Miller has an interesting back story. One of Miller's memoirs ("Blue Like Jazz") sold many copies, and he was approached by filmmakers to turn the book into a movie. After much back-and-forth discussion, they made it clear that he would have to fabricate and enhance most of his book to make the memoir-turned-movie sell and appeal to the average person. Miller counteracts them and writes about how he quizzically prodded them to elucidate. In the book, many anecdotes and stories are thrust at the reader. Some are random, some hold meaning, and some just seem to prove to the filmmakers that God's life we are granted isn't necessarily boring. The stories are about Miller, his friends, and distant acquaintances. Some stories involve him, others don't. Maybe one day Miller will have a movie, but, as of now, that isn't likely. Miller doesn't want to change his life. There is talk of God in this book but not as much as one would expect from a book published under a predominantly Christian market. Readers will be entertained with this book and lift an eyebrow while smirking as they turn each page.

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  • Posted January 18, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A book that might change your life

    Miller's self-deprecating humor and openness about his own life and struggles set this far above the usual "self-help" literature. I found this book stimulating, provocative, and rewarding. It made me take a look at my own life in a different way. Miller is a Christian writer, but he doesn't beat you over the head with it, and as a Christian reader, I appreciate that approach.

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