I could be easily convinced that the phrase "I just couldn't put it down" was coined with Donald Miller's "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" in mind. Whereas I typically require a month to read a book of this size (250 pages), I started this one on a Saturday and was done by Monday night. (My wife upstaged me: she read it in one day.) From the beginning, this book had its hooks in me and wasn't interested in letting go.
The premise is simple, but unique: some time ago, the author was approached about making a movie based on "Blue Like Jazz", his best-known work. "A Million Miles" is an account of the personal revelation that his own life could be more interesting, and that revelation's aftermath. The result was a number of valuable lessons learned by Miller as he explored the story-creation process, with the main lesson being the importance of making sure one's own life story is a meaningful one.
"A Million Miles" is filled with seemingly unrelated anecdotes, not only from Miller's life, but from the experiences of others, each determined to make sure that their life makes a difference. He weaves the varied stories together masterfully and seamlessly. The author's narrative style seems more focused this time, especially when compared to the free-for-all that was "Blue Like Jazz". Although the trademark Miller humor is there, the stories are more serious, and at least one is heartbreaking. All are instrumental in getting Miller's point across: make your life count.
While this book stands on its own, it continues a theme common to most of Donald Miller's work. In "To Own a Dragon", "Blue Like Jazz", and "Searching for God Knows What", Miller introduced us to several real-life characters who understand the importance of having an impact on our world; here, he adds to the list of stories of those remarkable people.
From the young woman who gets water wells built in poor African villages, to a man who restores his connection to his almost-lost daughter, to a family who starts a New Year's Day neighborhood parade, we see just how powerful the combination of gumption, a genuine love for people, and a good vision can be.
This is not only an enjoyable book; it's an important one. I highly recommend it.
Aside: Although their writing styles are very dissimilar, the ideas of Donald Miller and John Eldredge echo similar themes. In this case, Miller seems to be inspired by Eldredge's exhortation to believers--contained in "Desire," "Waking the Dead", and especially "Epic"-- to make your life a great story. The result is an inspiring message, as well. Although their voices are very different, I would love to one day see a collaboration between the two.