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Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road

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Follow Don and Paul as they dive headlong into the deepest of human questions and find answers outside words?answers that have to be experienced to be believed. Day 1: "Trips  like ours are greener grass left unknown for fear of believing trite sayings; sayings that are sometimes true. But our friends back home live an existence under the weight and awareness of times; a pl Follow Don and Paul as they dive headlong into the deepest of human questions and find answers outside words?answers that have to be experienced to be believed. Day 1: "Trips  like ours are greener grass left unknown for fear of believing trite sayings; sayings that are sometimes true. But our friends back home live an existence under the weight and awareness of times; a place we are slowly escaping; a world growing fainter by the hour and the mile." Day 13: "It feels again that we are leaving who we were, moving on into the people we will become, hopefully, people with some kind of answers, some kind of thing to believe tht makes sense of beauty, of romance. Something that would explain the red glow against Paul's face, the red glow that seems to be coming off the console . . . 'Did you notice the engine light is lit, bud?' I ask . . ." Day 83: "I sit in the van, waiting for her to come out when I notice a window in one of the classrooms open, and a backpack comes falling out, spilling a few books onto the lawn. After the backpack comes Elida, falling atop the pack and laying low, peeking back into the window to see if the teacher noticed. She gathers her books, reaches into the classroom and closes the window, then runs toward the van as though this were a prison break." As you read Through Painted Deserts, you'll soon realize this is not just one man's account of finding light, God, and beauty on the open road. Rather, this book maps the journey you're already traveling . . . or soon will be.


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Follow Don and Paul as they dive headlong into the deepest of human questions and find answers outside words?answers that have to be experienced to be believed. Day 1: "Trips  like ours are greener grass left unknown for fear of believing trite sayings; sayings that are sometimes true. But our friends back home live an existence under the weight and awareness of times; a pl Follow Don and Paul as they dive headlong into the deepest of human questions and find answers outside words?answers that have to be experienced to be believed. Day 1: "Trips  like ours are greener grass left unknown for fear of believing trite sayings; sayings that are sometimes true. But our friends back home live an existence under the weight and awareness of times; a place we are slowly escaping; a world growing fainter by the hour and the mile." Day 13: "It feels again that we are leaving who we were, moving on into the people we will become, hopefully, people with some kind of answers, some kind of thing to believe tht makes sense of beauty, of romance. Something that would explain the red glow against Paul's face, the red glow that seems to be coming off the console . . . 'Did you notice the engine light is lit, bud?' I ask . . ." Day 83: "I sit in the van, waiting for her to come out when I notice a window in one of the classrooms open, and a backpack comes falling out, spilling a few books onto the lawn. After the backpack comes Elida, falling atop the pack and laying low, peeking back into the window to see if the teacher noticed. She gathers her books, reaches into the classroom and closes the window, then runs toward the van as though this were a prison break." As you read Through Painted Deserts, you'll soon realize this is not just one man's account of finding light, God, and beauty on the open road. Rather, this book maps the journey you're already traveling . . . or soon will be.

30 review for Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road

  1. 4 out of 5

    Israel Thompson

    There is perhaps too much to say about this book, and at the same time too little that could be said any better than Don Miller has already penned. To the people on the brink of life’s next chapter, or to the people who drown in the internalized existential musings of their overactive questions, or even to the people looking to unplug from the Matrix long enough to feel human again: consider this book a lovingly-crafted letter of support from a dear friend. Deserts doesn’t read like someone tell There is perhaps too much to say about this book, and at the same time too little that could be said any better than Don Miller has already penned. To the people on the brink of life’s next chapter, or to the people who drown in the internalized existential musings of their overactive questions, or even to the people looking to unplug from the Matrix long enough to feel human again: consider this book a lovingly-crafted letter of support from a dear friend. Deserts doesn’t read like someone telling you what to think or what to do; rather it is content to meander through various scenes and ideas, touching here and there on thoughts you might have had, or questions you might have asked, and seeks only to encourage you to feel out the answers for yourself. This laid-back approach felt more honest than a lot of other books in this genre, and I found myself genuinely invested in Don, Paul, and the other wonderful people described in the book. I found myself Googling some of the characters afterwards, and something deep inside me bubbled with inexorable joy upon finding that they actually exist! It was like watching Avengers Endgame and turning around after the credits to see a wizened Pepper Potts hugging her now 30-year old daughter; as if the reality I poured my emotional investment into, portrayed through a medium commonly used for fiction, was suddenly thrust into the reality I sought to escape. It gives every sentence a bit more punch, every metaphor a bit more context, every decision a bit more weight. It feels, well... genuine. It’s an unfiltered look at a man with an affinity for poetic imagery trying to make sense of everything his five senses are showing him while some deeper part of him tries to make sense of everything his five senses are oblivious to. And in some way, no matter where any of us are on this grand journey called life, I think we all can relate to that feeling, and a trip through a painted desert would do us some good.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    When I first read this book, it was entitled "Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance", and I picked it up because of the obvious allusion to Robert Pirsig's classic "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" (not that I had ever read it, mind you). I read it, really enjoyed it, and then had a friend tell me about Blue Like Jazz well over a year later; I actually did not make the connection that it was Miller's story until well into BLJ when he made an oblique mention to his trip. At any r When I first read this book, it was entitled "Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance", and I picked it up because of the obvious allusion to Robert Pirsig's classic "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" (not that I had ever read it, mind you). I read it, really enjoyed it, and then had a friend tell me about Blue Like Jazz well over a year later; I actually did not make the connection that it was Miller's story until well into BLJ when he made an oblique mention to his trip. At any rate, it was well over a decade ago that I read it, and both Miller and I have changed not insignificantly in the intervening time, so I thought it would be interesting to read the re-release of the book (not that much was changed, it seemed), particularly after just watching the Blue Like Jazz movie. I was glad to have enjoyed it at least as much - if not more - than I did a decade ago, and that the story and text itself in many ways felt just as fresh as it did on first reading. The actual happenings of the story (the "plot", as it were) are relatively brief, but Miller's descriptions leave vivid pictures of each setting and encounter he and his friend Paul have on their way from Texas to Oregon in a Volkswagen van. Miller's prose is very poetic, and this book in particular is very "meandery" as he allows himself to pursue a number of different trails of thought in theological wonderings, existential ramblings, and epistemological ponderings, many of which are meant to provoke thought on the part of the reader. Miller's asides and forays into thoughts precede his slightly more focused diatribes in his later works, and although they do at times seem frustratingly immature, they do capture not only a specific time in his life but an ethos that does permeate much of the generations of North American Evangelicals in the past two decades. There is a lightness to what he writes without being flippant or disrespectful, and what redeems some of the more meandering passages is often a brief insertion of self-awareness of just how ridiculous he realizes he sounds a lot of the time. Miller is an author after my own heart, and I can see that I write much the same way: with total conviction of what I am writing combined with a paradoxical meta-awareness of how silly I might sound to someone who does not see things the same way I do. In all, Deserts is a fun story of two guys on a road trip and their thoughts on God, and it is a necessary predecessor for all of Miller's subsequent works.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    My new favorite author Donald Miller (he wrote Blue Like Jazz) and his friend Paul take a road trip from Texas to Oregon. Miller believes all of us must leave home at some point to discover who we are really meant to be. This book is a part of his journey towards himself and God. Miller feels most of us get caught asking "how" in life. How do I get a good job? How do I find a good wife? How do I buy a nice house? Yet Miller asks the "why" questions, which make his life more difficult. Why do I ne My new favorite author Donald Miller (he wrote Blue Like Jazz) and his friend Paul take a road trip from Texas to Oregon. Miller believes all of us must leave home at some point to discover who we are really meant to be. This book is a part of his journey towards himself and God. Miller feels most of us get caught asking "how" in life. How do I get a good job? How do I find a good wife? How do I buy a nice house? Yet Miller asks the "why" questions, which make his life more difficult. Why do I need a job? Why do I want a wife? But it is these very thoughts that make me want to read more and think alongside him. Another excellent book with lots of fun ruminations and road trip adventures in an old VW van. PS - Since my parents live in central Oregon, I also loved the descriptions of the area.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Danm

    About life. Great story. Real. Only complaint is unrealistic dialogue (humans talk in contractions). However, the adventures and messages in the book more than make up for that one continuous error. Debated about putting on Favorites shelf, but if I have to debate about it, then it's probably not a Favorite. Close, though. About life. Great story. Real. Only complaint is unrealistic dialogue (humans talk in contractions). However, the adventures and messages in the book more than make up for that one continuous error. Debated about putting on Favorites shelf, but if I have to debate about it, then it's probably not a Favorite. Close, though.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Little

    it was either a really good or really bad idea to read this (adventure/travel) book in the midst of COVID. regardless, i loved it. kinda felt like hearing about a really cool friend's trip. inspiring, as usual. it was either a really good or really bad idea to read this (adventure/travel) book in the midst of COVID. regardless, i loved it. kinda felt like hearing about a really cool friend's trip. inspiring, as usual.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Trevor Dailey

    Through Painted Deserts is an autobiographical account of Miller driving with his friend Paul from Texas up to Oregon in a Volkswagen camper van. In many ways this book is a idealistic escape recounting an idealistic escape. To summarize, Don and Paul slowly make their way up to Portland, OR, sleeping in their van (mostly) the entire way. The friends encounter vehicular issues during their journey, sometimes as simple as a carburetor gas-cap but sometimes much more. I don't want to give too much Through Painted Deserts is an autobiographical account of Miller driving with his friend Paul from Texas up to Oregon in a Volkswagen camper van. In many ways this book is a idealistic escape recounting an idealistic escape. To summarize, Don and Paul slowly make their way up to Portland, OR, sleeping in their van (mostly) the entire way. The friends encounter vehicular issues during their journey, sometimes as simple as a carburetor gas-cap but sometimes much more. I don't want to give too much of the actual plot away, but would like to survey what I feel like is the peak of the book. The duo spend some considerable time at the Grand Canyon, not only squinting their eyes to see the bottom from the top, but hiking the nine miles down, ten miles back up. Honestly, I don't think I could make the trek myself, but reading about Miller's difficulties and perseverance actually inspired me to not totally write it off. If you've never read a Donald Miller book, you should know he is an expert storyteller. His writing might not satiate the English major, but he is captivating indeed. Miller weaves in and out of narrative and philosophy like an Olympic slalom skier racing between the markers. And he really makes you think. About Life, God, and Life with God. Miller's writing feels like a one-sided conversation, but not because he won't let you get a word in, but because you're sitting across the table from him and you're thoroughly engrossed, not even searching for words to contribute or protest. If you've never read a Donald Miller book, this is just as good of a place to start as the ever popular Blue Like Jazz. Through Painted Deserts would translate well into a little indie film or miniseries. I would watch it in a heart beat.

  7. 5 out of 5

    B.J. Richardson

    Donald Miller has written some absolutely amazing books. I remember thinking when I first read Blue Like Jazz, "This is the best Christian book I have ever read" (outside the Bible of course, and I probably would not think the same today) Other phenomenal books I have read from Miller are Searching for God Knows What and A Million Miles In A Thousand Years. This book here, however, does not even begin to compare with those. To be fair, I understand that this was actually his first book revised an Donald Miller has written some absolutely amazing books. I remember thinking when I first read Blue Like Jazz, "This is the best Christian book I have ever read" (outside the Bible of course, and I probably would not think the same today) Other phenomenal books I have read from Miller are Searching for God Knows What and A Million Miles In A Thousand Years. This book here, however, does not even begin to compare with those. To be fair, I understand that this was actually his first book revised and retitled. Originally called Prayer and the Art of Volkswagon Maintenance, the story tells about a road trip Don made when he was in his early twenties. He and a friend did the "hippy thing" (his words not mine) and went on a trip in a beat up old VW van from Houston Texas to a ranch in Oregon. Don is an amazing writer and his easy tone pulls you into this journey as the two boys climb the Grand Canyon, and have other various adventures. Don is at his best when asking deep questions and challenging the reader to question and engage the culture and their Christian presuppositions. There really isn't much of that in this book. This is more a feel-good book about nothing in particular. While I didn't hate it, I am pretty sure I won't ever give it any serious thought. For those easily offended, there will be people claiming to be Christians getting drunk and hints of extramarital sex hinted at. So when all is said and done, don't bother with this book. If you are eager to read everything DM has written then, sure, give it a go. But if you are looking for something great to read, I would recommend the books listed above instead.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jonah Twiddy

    Donald Miller has a way of putting life's most complex profundities into matter-of-fact experiences that make you wonder why you take life so seriously. The "spiritual pilgrimage" he takes in this book had me journeying right along with him, as if I were the third passenger in their hollow shell of a hippie van, posing my own questions about the great Why of life and finding answers in the simple day-to-day experience of living. Stories like these speak to the longing for wonder we are all so we Donald Miller has a way of putting life's most complex profundities into matter-of-fact experiences that make you wonder why you take life so seriously. The "spiritual pilgrimage" he takes in this book had me journeying right along with him, as if I were the third passenger in their hollow shell of a hippie van, posing my own questions about the great Why of life and finding answers in the simple day-to-day experience of living. Stories like these speak to the longing for wonder we are all so well acquainted with, and remind us that God has placed beauty everywhere if we would only take the time to stop and see it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I can't believe that the guy who wrote this book (specifically emphasizing not feeling like you have to buy things to be happy) now runs a marketing company for a living. At any rate, this is early Donald Miller, and you can see the roots of what became the phenomenon of "Blue Like Jazz." This book is about a road trip. It's pretty good, but I found it all a bit funny when I thought about the actual timeline of the events in the book: you get Donald riffing deep about how hard it is to integrate I can't believe that the guy who wrote this book (specifically emphasizing not feeling like you have to buy things to be happy) now runs a marketing company for a living. At any rate, this is early Donald Miller, and you can see the roots of what became the phenomenon of "Blue Like Jazz." This book is about a road trip. It's pretty good, but I found it all a bit funny when I thought about the actual timeline of the events in the book: you get Donald riffing deep about how hard it is to integrate back into society after sleeping under the stars and living in the wild. But then you realize he only slept outside for three weeks, and the whole book is about a single road trip from Texas to Oregon. I don't know. Maybe I'm just skeptical because the guy runs a marketing company now :)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lavinia Curletta

    I love the beauty of this man's writing - his choice of words, the imagery, the humor, the sincerity. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a travelogue, and to anyone thinking deeply and searchingly about this life. I've started a fourth Donald Miller book today. Can't get enough. I love the beauty of this man's writing - his choice of words, the imagery, the humor, the sincerity. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a travelogue, and to anyone thinking deeply and searchingly about this life. I've started a fourth Donald Miller book today. Can't get enough.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Linn

    The story of a muti-state trip that gives clarity to life and God.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Burdiss

    Donald miller is great at making the simplicities of life significant and writing that in detail

  13. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    Midway through the book I was not enjoying the book terribly much, it was good, but it wasn't comparing to A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. It wasn't too deep and I hadn't been awed by any truths yet, it was simply telling of the adventures Don and Paul had on their trip to Oregon, nothing too spiritually or otherwise deep. Then I was reading it before class one day and the girl next to me excitedly exclaims, "I love that book! Doesn't it just make you want to go on a road trip?". And since Midway through the book I was not enjoying the book terribly much, it was good, but it wasn't comparing to A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. It wasn't too deep and I hadn't been awed by any truths yet, it was simply telling of the adventures Don and Paul had on their trip to Oregon, nothing too spiritually or otherwise deep. Then I was reading it before class one day and the girl next to me excitedly exclaims, "I love that book! Doesn't it just make you want to go on a road trip?". And since that point, I loved the book and have hardly been able to put it down, because yeah, it does make me want to go on a road trip. I was looking for the wrong things in this book, it wasn't here to reveal insights into God (at least it didn't play that part for me, it could for other readers because Donald does soliloquize on such things), but maybe it should just instill a sense of adventure in me. And once that clicked in my mind, I loved the book. It makes me want to so bad just hop in a car and drive. Don recounts many times where strangers help them out, meet ups with past friends, and stories that all happened with none of being planned, it just happened. He recounts how he felt he found true life when he cast everything else away. And Through Painted Deserts makes me want to experience that type of freedom. Just step of the ledge and take that step, even for a while. In almost all of the great people of faith, they hold that characteristic, they just went for it. Why are there so few people of that great faith? Because 1) most are eliminated because they refuse to take that blind step and 2) taking a blind step guarantees nothing, so we don't hear of half those people who took that step off the ledge. So even if I muster the courage to just let it all go, there is no guarantee it will be a good decision, which makes the decision all the more intriguing in nature. But apart from those deeper connotations of going on an adventure, Through Painted Deserts gives me a very real want to just drive and explore on a great road trip.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Evan

    I had to put this book down. I loved Blue Like Jazz, and saw this book for $5 at a used bookstore right before a long bus trip. This book was great, while I was on the bus. All the feelings of traveling and doing something new, hopes, dreams etc...make this book enjoyable. That is when you might actually care about all the "fluff" that this book contains about Miller's own road trip with his friend. I found that once I got home and tried to read it, I felt like it was a waste of time. reading fo I had to put this book down. I loved Blue Like Jazz, and saw this book for $5 at a used bookstore right before a long bus trip. This book was great, while I was on the bus. All the feelings of traveling and doing something new, hopes, dreams etc...make this book enjoyable. That is when you might actually care about all the "fluff" that this book contains about Miller's own road trip with his friend. I found that once I got home and tried to read it, I felt like it was a waste of time. reading for pages about how out of shape he is and the details of walking down the grand canyon was really where I had enough. That being said. There really are some great nuggets of wisdom on life, friendship and spirituality in this book. You just need to wade through a lot of filler to get to them. Which, unfortunately I was unwilling to do. Not trying to diss on Donald Miller, cause he is still one of my favorite authors, but this book gave me the feeling that after the success of Blue Like Jazz, the publisher asked his for anything else that he had and this was it... So, my recommendation: read Blue Like Jazz(Or a million miles, I've heard good things) if you haven't or read this is you are on a long road trip yourself!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Kurtz

    I purposely chose to read this book last out of all the Donald Miller books. I knew it would be my favorite and it did not disappoint. I’ve always been attracted to Miller’s writing style; something about it really resonates with me. It's more of a conversational style of writing. This book is about a road trip that Miller and a friend (Paul) take from Houston, TX to Portland, OR. I think the subtitle to this book perfectly sums up the story. “Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road.” I really e I purposely chose to read this book last out of all the Donald Miller books. I knew it would be my favorite and it did not disappoint. I’ve always been attracted to Miller’s writing style; something about it really resonates with me. It's more of a conversational style of writing. This book is about a road trip that Miller and a friend (Paul) take from Houston, TX to Portland, OR. I think the subtitle to this book perfectly sums up the story. “Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road.” I really enjoyed this read. It’s different than most of his books, it’s less theological. It’s about adventure, beauty and people. All things I love. Also, I’ve road tripped approximately 70 percent of this trip and it was neat to read about these places I’ve seen, but from another’s perspective.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Hernandez

    After reading this I really want to read the other books in his repertoire. It was a nice light read that made me thing about the plans I had originally made for my life. Plans to see more of the world than I've seen so far and plans that didn't involve settling down in one location. I like the idea that while God doesn't always give us all that we ask for He does give according to our needs and that the life He gave us is meant to be enjoyed with all His simple blessings. We don't need much to After reading this I really want to read the other books in his repertoire. It was a nice light read that made me thing about the plans I had originally made for my life. Plans to see more of the world than I've seen so far and plans that didn't involve settling down in one location. I like the idea that while God doesn't always give us all that we ask for He does give according to our needs and that the life He gave us is meant to be enjoyed with all His simple blessings. We don't need much to be happy, we just have to learn to be content with what we have. I have to learn to be content. So I would recommend this book to anybody who feels "stuck".

  17. 4 out of 5

    Drew

    This book made me want to sell everything, buy a VW van, get my own dog and travel the country with no agenda. Essentially, "the entitled rich kid's after college dream." Some day I will get there. A great book about traveling, God, and big questions. One of the things that will stick with me from this book is at a point where he talks about Marriage as this beautiful companionship. He was able to describe marriage as I have always thought about it. It is pretty amazing to experience that now wi This book made me want to sell everything, buy a VW van, get my own dog and travel the country with no agenda. Essentially, "the entitled rich kid's after college dream." Some day I will get there. A great book about traveling, God, and big questions. One of the things that will stick with me from this book is at a point where he talks about Marriage as this beautiful companionship. He was able to describe marriage as I have always thought about it. It is pretty amazing to experience that now with Annie. great book!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Since I've wanted to be friends with Donald Miller for quite some time, it was a pleasure to take a road trip with him and be reminded that God is dazzling us. I feel like anytime I read Miller's writings, I'm reminded of what is important - not necessarily the specifics but the major ideas that make something worth the while. Definitely a book I'd recommend, really to anyone. Even if you aren't interested in spirituality at all. Since I've wanted to be friends with Donald Miller for quite some time, it was a pleasure to take a road trip with him and be reminded that God is dazzling us. I feel like anytime I read Miller's writings, I'm reminded of what is important - not necessarily the specifics but the major ideas that make something worth the while. Definitely a book I'd recommend, really to anyone. Even if you aren't interested in spirituality at all.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

    It's an alright travelogue, but I like Miller's other work more. It's an alright travelogue, but I like Miller's other work more.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Della Tingle

    Maybe travel books aren’t my thing. I like historical fiction. I like fantasy. I like Christian fiction, but I just don’t know about travel books. While I read this cover to cover, I can’t say that I ever really got into it, engrossed in it. I love figurative language, I do. I teach figurative language, and similes, metaphors, hyperbole, and personification are nothing but FUN! However, the constant stream of figurative language in this book was downright overwhelming and unappealing...it was si Maybe travel books aren’t my thing. I like historical fiction. I like fantasy. I like Christian fiction, but I just don’t know about travel books. While I read this cover to cover, I can’t say that I ever really got into it, engrossed in it. I love figurative language, I do. I teach figurative language, and similes, metaphors, hyperbole, and personification are nothing but FUN! However, the constant stream of figurative language in this book was downright overwhelming and unappealing...it was simply TOO MUCH! For example, “We move with new and appreciated quickness toward a sinking sun that sets to flame the backs of close and distant hills, causing clouds to flare in violent strips and tall trees to lay their shadows across the road like nightclothes across a bed.” Here’s another one: “As the sun went higher, the color faded and the earth gave way to nothingness, as though the color were a trick, as if the sun were teaching us there is no such thing as beauty, only what it chooses to shine a certain light upon that stimulates a certain chemical in our brains, as though the two were old lovers, teasing each other, reliving some forgotten memory.” Are you kidding me?!?! It was like this the entire book. It was exhausting! On page 64, Miller includes a 154 word sentence. Yes, I counted. So, what did I like? What’s my takeaway? Plenty! See the following... “Trouble leads to question and question leads to prayer.” “...life is more than clothes and cars and a new flavor of toothpaste...it is community and creation and beauty and humanity.” “...the things we think are important really aren’t important.” “God doesn’t expect you to accumulate a lot of stuff.” “...life is going to be ok...you just have to enjoy it.” “If you can’t buy a nice car for your family or anything, don’t worry about it. Just go into your kids’ room and kiss them on the forehead, okay, ‘cause there is all kinds of beauty and it doesn’t have anything to do with having some stuff.” “...life is enormous, and I am very tiny in the middle of it.”

  21. 4 out of 5

    Percival Buncab

    This is the revision of Don’s debut book, Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance. Compared to Blue Like Jazz and his other NY Times bestsellers, it wasn’t a hit. So he revised it after he gained many fans. I said it once, and I say it again: Don always writes page-turning prologues. However, in this one, the rest of the book was quite a disappointment. This is the least of Don’s memoirs. What’s worse for me is that I read this after A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, which for me is his This is the revision of Don’s debut book, Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance. Compared to Blue Like Jazz and his other NY Times bestsellers, it wasn’t a hit. So he revised it after he gained many fans. I said it once, and I say it again: Don always writes page-turning prologues. However, in this one, the rest of the book was quite a disappointment. This is the least of Don’s memoirs. What’s worse for me is that I read this after A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, which for me is his best. This is Don’s first book, so it just makes sense that he wrote better latter. But this is the revision, and even if not compared to his other memoirs, the book itself is just fine. No wonder it wasn’t a hit. Aside from Don’s anticipated on-point realizations, the story is basically just a boring road trip of two young adult men, Don and his relatively new friend Paul, across states. Nothing so interesting about their journey itself. It’s just that Don could somehow write interesting points from almost any of his experiences. As much as I wanted to not judge a book by its author, I have to admit that if this wasn’t written by Don, I would’ve quitted reading after the first quarter. I’m a fan of Don. I dig his memoirs. He’s honest, relevant, and always making sense. I’ve read half of his books, all of which I loved. I wanted to be a completist of him, so I had to finish this even though most of the time the book bored me. There are good parts in their journey, like their canyon trail, meeting with a stranger mechanic when they got stuck in a road less travelled, and the infatuated love story of Paul and Danielle (I hate that I accidentally read the ending of their story at the back of the book. It spoiled the plot twist!). Compered to Don’s other books, this is a bit longer. It would have been better if he trimmed it significantly, making this his shortest memoir, but at least it would overall be good.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey Beck

    I will admit that when I first starting reading this book I was not sure how I felt about it. It starts off kind of slow and boring. There were times where I wasn't sure if I would finish it or not and though about starting something different. But, the book reads like a growing and deepening relationship, there is so much development, much like Don and Paul's friendship. By the time I got to chapter 7 or 8, I couldn't put it down and I found myself deeply attached to everyone in the story. If y I will admit that when I first starting reading this book I was not sure how I felt about it. It starts off kind of slow and boring. There were times where I wasn't sure if I would finish it or not and though about starting something different. But, the book reads like a growing and deepening relationship, there is so much development, much like Don and Paul's friendship. By the time I got to chapter 7 or 8, I couldn't put it down and I found myself deeply attached to everyone in the story. If you find yourself not wanting to read on and aren't into the story, KEEP GOING. It gets better. If you love and find joy in the simplicity of the outdoors, this book is for you. Beware, it's going to make you have serious wanderlust. A trip to the PNW is on my bucket list now. Don Miller does a great job of writing about his journey with spirituality and finding out life's questions about God and relationships and the meaning of life in such a soothing, non-in-your-face way. It really got me thinking about what I really need in life- it isn't stuff, it's about feeling God and His creation and forming relationships with the world around us, seeing beauty in people in places. Life is so much bigger than commercials or jobs, it's about experiencing God's glory. It's like a breath of fresh air after reading so many Christian books that talk down at you. Miller writes in a way that makes you want to experience this journey with him and Paul in a honest and refreshing way. I love this quote from the book and I'm going to share it to close my review. "I will sleep beneath the stars and whisper thank you to the Creator of the universe, as a way of reacquainting myself to an old friend, a friend who says you don't have to be smart or good-looking or religious or anything; you just have to cling to Him, love Him, need Him, listen to His story."

  23. 5 out of 5

    Riana

    After having read Blue like Jazz about ten years ago and enjoying it, I was quite excited to find this one in the second-hand bookshop. Not only did I like the author’s writing back then, but road tripping through the USA is still on my bucket list, therefore this book seemed a perfect choice! However, I was somewhat disappointed with this one. Obviously, this is one of the author’s earlier works and it is evident in his writing and outlook on life. I thought the story and characters (as well as After having read Blue like Jazz about ten years ago and enjoying it, I was quite excited to find this one in the second-hand bookshop. Not only did I like the author’s writing back then, but road tripping through the USA is still on my bucket list, therefore this book seemed a perfect choice! However, I was somewhat disappointed with this one. Obviously, this is one of the author’s earlier works and it is evident in his writing and outlook on life. I thought the story and characters (as well as their philosophizing) was somewhat immature. I don’t know who was more irritated by Don’s endless bland jokes – Paul or me. Granted, poor Don had to put up with complicated Paul who didn’t want to splurge on a bit of jam for their bread, but afterwards gave in and splurged on a milkshake instead, because he “deserved” it. The never-ending car trouble was quite amusing – I can imagine somebody with an interest in engines and mechanics would have loved those parts. Perhaps this book is aimed more at young guys rather than women in their mid-thirties. What I did really enjoy was all the descriptions about the scenery and towns they drove through – the Grand Canyon episode being my favourite part. Not a horrible read – but not amazing either.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    I love Donald Miller's way of writing, and this book is no exception. It's entertaining, captivating, and overall a fun read. I'm only giving it 4 stars (and not 5) because I don't think it's as good as some of his other books and never got me really feeling impacted. It was captivating, but not very thought-provoking. I feel like this book was a more entertaining and religiously underpinned "On the Road" since it is all about a road trip he takes "to find himself", if you will, and the people a I love Donald Miller's way of writing, and this book is no exception. It's entertaining, captivating, and overall a fun read. I'm only giving it 4 stars (and not 5) because I don't think it's as good as some of his other books and never got me really feeling impacted. It was captivating, but not very thought-provoking. I feel like this book was a more entertaining and religiously underpinned "On the Road" since it is all about a road trip he takes "to find himself", if you will, and the people and relationships he has along the way. All the while, he is constantly asking himself the "why" questions about God and what he believes. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in searching for God or who just want to read an fun story about a guy living like a hippy for a few months.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dave Anderson

    This book was another one loaned to me by a friend. I had a little trouble getting into at first, but I really enjoyed the last half. I took a similar road trip with a friend after college in 1971 up north to Canada and then down through Montana and Idaho. It has many similarities to this trip except the author's faith in God is pretty strong in his journey while completely absent in mine. My favorite parts were Bob and Betty's friendship and the free breakfast at the Cafe when Don and his frien This book was another one loaned to me by a friend. I had a little trouble getting into at first, but I really enjoyed the last half. I took a similar road trip with a friend after college in 1971 up north to Canada and then down through Montana and Idaho. It has many similarities to this trip except the author's faith in God is pretty strong in his journey while completely absent in mine. My favorite parts were Bob and Betty's friendship and the free breakfast at the Cafe when Don and his friend Paul were broke. I loved the part where they repaired the linkage on their VW and then found a replacement part at a junkyard. Friendship is also a big theme with all its ups and downs throughout the book. Ask me sometime and I'll tell you about my own road trip odyssey. Right after I returned I met and married my wife back in 1972.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I overall enjoyed reading this book - it is written as a biography, detailing a sort of "coming of age/come to Jesus" trip for the author in his young adult life. It was a good mix of the author's internal thoughts on life and a pretty exciting story of 2 young guys traveling cross country in a less-than-ideal van. My favorite quote came at the end: "These mountains, which have seen untold sunrises, long to thunder praise but stand reverent, silent so that man's weak praise should be given God's I overall enjoyed reading this book - it is written as a biography, detailing a sort of "coming of age/come to Jesus" trip for the author in his young adult life. It was a good mix of the author's internal thoughts on life and a pretty exciting story of 2 young guys traveling cross country in a less-than-ideal van. My favorite quote came at the end: "These mountains, which have seen untold sunrises, long to thunder praise but stand reverent, silent so that man's weak praise should be given God's attention." This quote spoke to me, and was something I meditated on for a week after reading it. (It helped to have been camping in the Sierra's post-reading.) I definitely recommend, especially for young people.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Katelyn

    I've lost track of how many times I've read this book--I keep coming back to it. This was my first intro to Don Miller's work. While I prefer "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" for it's focus on writing and story, this book has a special place in my heart. I listen to the audio version on almost every roadtrip I take. Capturing Don's first major travel experience, the book chronicles the adventure he and his friend Paul take on a trip that changes their lives forever....like most meaningful t I've lost track of how many times I've read this book--I keep coming back to it. This was my first intro to Don Miller's work. While I prefer "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" for it's focus on writing and story, this book has a special place in my heart. I listen to the audio version on almost every roadtrip I take. Capturing Don's first major travel experience, the book chronicles the adventure he and his friend Paul take on a trip that changes their lives forever....like most meaningful travel experiences. Miller does an excellent job relating the highs and lows of their "pilgrimage," standing as a beautiful little testament to the ways a physical journey can help us move closer to ourselves and to God.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    What a fun balance of light-hearted road trip story and deep philosophical musings of a young Christian man who doesn't want to believe anything false. At first, possibly because of the narrator's voice, I found it a bit overdramatic. But after getting used to the voice and the style, while it is a bit immature--which is understandable for a college student on a road trip--it has some super poetic and raw descriptions of God and the world He has made for us. I definitely have some quotes/passage What a fun balance of light-hearted road trip story and deep philosophical musings of a young Christian man who doesn't want to believe anything false. At first, possibly because of the narrator's voice, I found it a bit overdramatic. But after getting used to the voice and the style, while it is a bit immature--which is understandable for a college student on a road trip--it has some super poetic and raw descriptions of God and the world He has made for us. I definitely have some quotes/passages that are keepers from this hilarious romp across the country.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tessa Klingensmith

    A good “coming of age” memoir of the authors travels across the county. It filled me with wanderlust and the desire to go out and buy a van immediately. I found the writing a little hard to read. With too much exposition and dry dialing, it felt like he was adding extra details to make a full length novel. Overall it makes you question God and the great unknown. I recommend this novel if you love travel and are in a season of change — but be prepared cause you will want to hit the open road ASAP A good “coming of age” memoir of the authors travels across the county. It filled me with wanderlust and the desire to go out and buy a van immediately. I found the writing a little hard to read. With too much exposition and dry dialing, it felt like he was adding extra details to make a full length novel. Overall it makes you question God and the great unknown. I recommend this novel if you love travel and are in a season of change — but be prepared cause you will want to hit the open road ASAP.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brad Erickson

    This book was pretty lame, especially when compared with the other book of Miller's I have read, Searching For God Knows What. He attempts to be deep and thoughtful, but only comes across as shallow and thoughtless. His behavior throughout his travels are boorish and arrogant; I wouldn't want him for a travel partner, that's for sure. The most interesting part of the book was at the end where he's working at the summer camp near Sisters, Oregon, but that was short-lived. This book was pretty lame, especially when compared with the other book of Miller's I have read, Searching For God Knows What. He attempts to be deep and thoughtful, but only comes across as shallow and thoughtless. His behavior throughout his travels are boorish and arrogant; I wouldn't want him for a travel partner, that's for sure. The most interesting part of the book was at the end where he's working at the summer camp near Sisters, Oregon, but that was short-lived.

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