So this is Donald Miller’s new book. I am going to attempt to write this review of his new book in his own style. Should be interesting and you will probably see how bad my writing is compared to his. Let’s see how this goes. Its long but there’s really good stuff at the end, in fact, the meat is at the end, so you might want to fast forward if you don’t care about the other stuff.
So the only reason that I read some Christian books is because everybody else is reading them. I’m not necessarily trying to get something out of it, I just like to keep up with what is going on in the Christian sub culture. Not sure why I feel the need to do this, cause I’ll be honest some books have been a waste of my time. I guess it just makes me feel connected.
To be perfectly honest, this is why I read Blue Like Jazz a few years ago. When it hit the shelves there was a big fuss about it. Now as a writer, I love reading Donald Miller, he’s funny, engaging, thoughtful and way more honest than about 99% of religious, anal church people that I don’t enjoy being around cause they are so fake and plastic.
To me he comes off in his books as a total melancholy which may be why I find a hard time finding things in common with him. Donald Miler does more personal reflection in one paragraph in his book than I’ve probably done in my whole life. Its one of my many issues. I’m not introspective, I’m not a dweller. I’m just not wired that way. It, like every other personality trait has its positives and negatives.
Anyways, I read A Million Miles In A Thousand Years not because I loved Blue Like Jazz, I didn’t love it. I thought it was okay. I got turned off by the title. He says that Jazz doesn’t resolve. I was a music major in college and played and listened to jazz for years. He’s right, some jazz doesn’t resolve but an awful lot of it does. Strike one. My friends think I am a music snob, I agree. Its why I scored one point for Melancholy when I took the Personality Plus test years ago, my anal retentiveness involving anything musical.
I think some people like books just because they kind of push the envelope a little and that becomes cool and en vogue. They had never heard a Christian be that honest and say some of the stuff he did. Now I’ll say this about Donald Miller, I am pretty sure he’s the same person in real life that he is in his books. If he’s not he may be one of the greatest scam artists of all time. But for the record I think he’s real and I think that even though we don’t have a lot in common and I don’t see eye to eye on everything theologically, I would like him a lot if I ever had the chance to meet him. He seems like the real deal. I like people that make me think and question and aren’t fake. For that reason we would get along just fine.
I also read To Own A Dragon, I liked it better than Blue Like Jazz.
Now let me get to the reason that I wrote this post in the first place. Sorry its so long and I’m sure have already lost about 75% of the 4 people that read this blog besides my mom.
So his new book was incredible. Coming from a guy who likes to think I read a decent amount of books, at least compared to the average American I do, but not compared to really smart people, or Rick Warren. I heard him say in his early years he read a book a day. I have no idea how he did that.
Anyways, this books subtitle is “What I learned while editing my life.” The story goes, two, I’m sure hipster Christians from Nashville approached Donald Miller about making a movie about his life based on Blue Like Jazz. A sort of memoir if you will. As they flew out to his house in the Northwest and started writing a screen play, he kind of came to the realization that his life was boring. There was no drama, no exciting adventures, he sat around, wrote, watched TV and did Christian stuff like going to church and speaking at conferences which big Christian authors tend to do.
So he started learning about the power of story and took a class by a guy named Robert McKee who is like apparently the most amazing storyteller on the planet and has written a book about stories, creatively called, “Story.” In this class he began learning about what makes a good story and literally started applying these principles to his decision making process in real life. Would asking this girl out make a good story? Would riding my bike across the country make a good story? And so on.
He said something that I love in the book that goes something like this. “We love great stories, but we don’t live great stories.” Man that hit me hard. Do I live a good story? Is my life lived in such a way that my kids will tell their kids about it and so on. Do I take risks with my life? Is it interesting at all?
Now obviously, you could take this to an unhealthy extreme, and I don’t think that he’s advocating throwing asking God what He thinks we should do out the window. But I do think there is a lot of validity to his point. God is the ultimate author and as Miller said, we are characters in his story. We are characters in the meta narrative of God.
This book wasn’t filled with lots of little nuggets that you write down, it was one big paradigm shift for me. It was challenging. I want to be someone who lives a great story. I want to be someone that lives out things and does things that inspire other people to follow God and to take huge risks and chances with their life.
Bravo Donald, Bravo. By the way, when ever your next book comes out, I’ll read it and I am looking forward to it.