Cannarf Reviews: A Million Miles by Donald Miller

Author: Donald Miller

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

I’m Glad it Wasn’t Called: Let Story Guide You: Why some lives make sense and others don’t, which was the original title for the book when Don first conceived it. (I even have the original cover art for the book, which I’ll show you at the end of the post.) I’m also glad it wasn’t called Auteur: Why some lives make sense and others don’t, which was another title they were throwing around back in the Fall of 2007.

Book Synopsis in Twitteresque 140 characters or less: While writing a movie based on his stories, Don discovers that the same elements that make up a good story, also make a good life.

Where I Bought It: Got it at a bookstore in King of Prussia, PA. (though I should note that I didn’t end up purchasing the one I bit. So somewhere there’s a copy of this book with my dental records all over it.)

Paid for With: Visa. I’ve always been a Visa guy and not a Mastercard guy. No idea why.

How Long it Took Me to Read: Not long. I read the first 40 pages in an airplane in Microsoft Word since someone had sent me a pre-release illegal copy (shh, don’t tell anyone). After I bought the book a few weeks later I read the whole thing in about a week.

Who I WOULD NOT recommend this book to: Someone on their death bed. It’s pretty inconsiderate to ask someone who’s about to die to read a book about writing a better story with their life. It’s downright rude, actually.

Who I WOULD recommend this book to: Just about everyone. Whether you’re chasing your dreams, trying to figure out what your dreams are, or enjoying the dreams you’ve caught, there’s something in here for you.

What I used for a bookmark: A candy corn. Totally screwed up the book’s binding.

What were some interesting true stories from the book: Don’s story about finding and meeting his father was huge. As you get to the end of it, you’re like, “oh crap, my eyes are about to get watery, aren’t they?” and then it’s too late. It was also fascinating to read about Don’s failed relationship that he and his fiancee broke off. Not just because it’s Don, but because rarely do successful Christian authors write about their failed relationships.

What were some interesting true stories NOT from the book: I got to hang out with Don and Susan Isaacs on their tour bus the other day, which was a lot of fun. They’re just as kind in person as they are engaging on stage, but I’m sure you figured that. Unfortunately Don was not able to put the transcript of our riveting 20-minute conversation into the book because it happened a month after the book was released. Maybe the second printing?

What was the 1 thing I’ll take from the book: I’m gonna cheat and give you 3 things. #1 is that when a character doesn’t have a good ambition, he is not in a good story. If all I want to be is a successful writer, who cares? If I’m striving to be a good father and husband who loves those around him, now we’re getting somewhere. #2 is that this really isn’t about us. God is not a supporting character in my story. This is God’s story, and I play a part in it. Changes your perspective on things. #3 is that the climax of the Christian’s story is not when they accept Christ as savior. Because after that point there is still much conflict and heartache. No, the big scene in Act 3 when it all comes together is at the wedding feast of the Lamb in heaven. Conflict here on earth isn’t against God’s will for us. He actually uses it to shape and change us on this side of eternity.

What I learned from this book that I will apply to my next book: A good title is a good title no matter where it comes from. If you’re wondering where “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” comes from, it’s from a line in the book that you might have not even noticed, had it not been the inspiration for the book’s name. A memorable title is HUGE (and I think I finally have one for the book I’m working on…maybe.)

Expectations Going In: It’s Don Miller, so the expectations were very high.

Cannarf Rating: Despite my high expectations, the book still was an unexpected surprise. I had heard Don speak about Story before, so I wondered if some of the material would feel old and stale. On the contrary, the stories he injected into the book really helped the material make sense in a fresh way. I truly feel that anyone who reads through this book will be better off for it. Good chance I’ll wind up calling this my favorite book of his.   The Rating: +2 cannarfs. (what’s a cannarf?)

Have any of you read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years? If so, what’s your cannarf rating?

Bonus Time…here’s an early draft of the cover art for the book when it was titled, Let Story Guide You, designed by Barak Hardley:

and here’s a potential cover that Barak Hardley designed for Million Miles that Don’s blog readers thought was a little too dark. (it references a passage in the book where Don talks about how people would mourn the loss of good stories, and not non-fiction, if a Book Mobile fell off a bridge.)