Booking It (March Update: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years)

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Booking It is an online book club where we discuss what we’ve read over the past month as well as review a monthly assigned book. This month’s book is A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller.

I really gotta start a reading journal or something. I’ve got so many books going that I forget what I think about them by the time I should be reporting back to you each month. Does anyone out there keep a reading journal? I’d love to hear how you make it work for you!

Anyway, here’s what I remember from what I’ve read recently!

(Please note that if you make a purchase from one of the links in this post, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.)

The Hobbit

I told you last month that I started reading The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein aloud to my younger kids. Cheating on the book club by reading ahead. I know.

Life has just been so busy that we didn’t finish it until this past weekend. But everyone loved it and even the older kids listened in.

I had forgotten so much about the book. It’s been fun to relive the story with my children. And I relive it again with you in August when it’s the Book O’ the Month. I can’t wait to take the fam to see it on the big screen! We don’t see many movies at the theater, but this will be one of them.

The Betsy – Tacy Treasury

I grew up with Betsy after I found the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace in a dusty corner of the school library. Love them! I followed Betsy from kindergarten all the way through marriage and was smitten with her turn-of-the-century childhood and early 20th century coming of age.

Over the years, my aunt collected many vintage copies of the later books for me. And when Barnes and Noble did a reprint fifteen or more years ago, I bought the first four books, this treasury. However, when I kept having boy baby after boy baby, I discarded my newer reprints in some purge, thinking I’d never have a girl-child to read them to.

I had forgotten about Betsy until Susan Branch mentioned her on her blog. Fun! I started thinking aloud about those old books and lamenting that I had tossed the first four books. FishChick5 burst into tears. I mean sobs. WHY are you crying?

Because you got rid of those books!

So, I promptly ordered the newest imprint of The Betsy-Tacy Treasury and we started reading last week. My little five-year old, the same age as Betsy and Tacy when their story starts has never before been interested in chapter books. So this is a very fun development. And I’m so glad I kept those vintage copies!


I read a free Kindle copy of Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter while I had a few hours to kill one day. I first read this book years ago when I started catching up on all sorts of children’s literature that I had somehow missed in my growing up years. It’s one of those rags-to-riches orphan stories. It’s a sweet tale, though unrealistic on any number of points. However, there’s bird watching, and bad guys, and a beautiful girl. And, I confess, I cried.

It moved me, Bob.

Mindset for Moms

I told you a little about this book last week. Mindset for Moms is written by friend Jamie Martin who mothers three children, born on three different continents, building her family through adoption as well as naturally. I love her fresh perspective on life — and her positive attitude.

Positive attitude is what Mindset for Moms is about. While “positive thinking” can fall into the category of mumbo-jumbo, Jamie dances that fine line well, keeping it real, but also addressing that important issue of how thinking on the bright side can improve our life experiences.

Jamie sent me a review pdf copy, but I went ahead and bought the Kindle version (only $4.99) so that I could take it with me. The book is only available in ebook form, either pdf or kindle, at this time. (You can load pdfs on your Kindle, but with the model I have, it’s just not conducive to easy reading.)

Come back later today to enter a giveaway for Mindset for Moms.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Year

told you a little about this book at the beginning of the year. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story by Donald Miller is a fabulous book. Fabulous. Yes, this was another instance of my reading ahead, but hubs grabbed it off my shelf and finished it in record time back near Christmas and then he coerced me into reading it before it was “time.”

This is a great read, especially if you’re looking for a deeper something to sink your teeth — and your life — into. It is laugh-out-loud funny as well as you-better-have-a-kleenex moving. I was so amazingly surprised.

I had purchased the Kindle version of Miller’s first book, Blue Like Jazz months earlier on sale when I heard Tsh recommending this book. I figured it was better to read the first book first, but I just could not get into Blue Like Jazz. So, I (mistakenly) figured I wouldn’t like A Million Miles.

But, then Renee started singing its praises. I have huge respect for these two ladies and thought that if they were both talking about this book, then maybe I better give it another shot.

So, I downloaded the sample on Kindle and was hooked. I knew it would be a good read when I was laughing throughout the entire sample!

And I was right. It is.

The book is based on the concept of stories. Donald Miller is a great story teller with excellent comic timing. I would weep one page and cry the next. He takes you through the full range of human emotions as he tells you stories of folks who were living ho-hum existences. And then how God took their stories and made something more out of them.

photo source

He comes to grip with the fact that his life wasn’t a great story, that he wasn’t doing anything worth retelling, so he sets to change his ways and to “live a better story.” One of the things that he does is get in physical shape and go hiking in the Andes mountains, practice he says for something bigger and better. Here’s what he says about that experience and finally arriving on foot in Machu Picchu:

It wasn’t only the pain of the trail that made you appreciate the city; it was the pain of the landscape, steep in the mountains of the Andes, spiraled towers of natural rock, cliffs dropping for a thousand feet to the river. And the houses, the weight of them and the perfection in their lines, spoke of the many dead Incas who gave their lives to build the city.

It made me think about the hard lives so many people have had, the sacrifices they’ve endured, and how those people will see heaven differently from those of us who have had easier lives.

While I’m sure that I’m not lock-step with the author on any number of issues or philosophies, I think the metaphor of story and life, character and we, writer and God is a poignant one and one that we could each use to “learn to live a better story.”

(It’s definitely worth the five bucks to get it on Kindle right now.)

Have you been Booking It?

Apparently, I’ve got a thing for multiple books at one time. Last month I started FOUR books without finishing. Heavens! This month, I finished two of those and started a few more. Gonna need to do something about that.

In the meantime, tell us about the books you’ve read! If you read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, be sure to tell us what you thought of it.

Check out the list of 12 books that we’ll be reading together this year. Next up in April – The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball.

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  1. I don’t keep a book journal, but I do start my “Booking It” post as soon as I finish a book so I can go ahead and write about it before I forget.

    Thanks for the reviews of Betsy-Tacy and Freckles. I’ve been looking for chapter books to read to my five year old daughter, and these look like ones she would enjoy…and would be appropriate!

  2. Ah, Betsy-Tacy = such good memories! I have the first two books (from my childhood), but for some reason, I never moved past those. However, they’ve been in my Amazon cart for several years now, and maybe one of these days I’ll add to my collection.

    Re: Freckles – have you read “The Girl of the Limberlost”? One of my favorites. I liked Freckles, but I like Girl better.

    As for “A Million Miles” – well, I disliked it, then I loved it, and by the time I got to the end I was troubled with Miller’s theology, but I still walked away with a lot to think about and I’m still glad I read it. I really liked the idea of “story” and taking steps to write your own – not because God doesn’t have a plan for my life, but because He gave me a brain and wisdom and He’s not going to hand my dream to me without work on my part. The hubby and I had several good discussions about the book, and it made us start taking steps to make changes – so all in all, it was a positive read, but one that should be done through the filter of Scripture as well.

    I linked up on time this month(!), and you can find out what I thought about “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” (it’s not pretty) and another childhood favorite – the Anne books. 🙂

    All told, according to my 2012 Book List on GoodReads, I’ve read 15 books so far this year. I’m pretty happy with that number, though I have three books going at the moment. 🙂

    1. The books of Betsy in high school and college are the most fun! You better get on it!

  3. Thanks for the mention Jessica. I’m getting ready to write more about One Million Miles (it’s written just not sure when it will publish).

    Yes, I keep a reading journal. Her name is Marge and in it I write down the things that really jump out at me when reading. This slows down my reading somewhat. But oh well. I use this mostly though for books I don’t own and can’t mark up in the margins (digitally or with pen).

  4. No, I don’t keep a reading journal, but I do try to update my booking it post as I read things.

    I didn’t get to A Million Miles yet, but I’m hoping to soon. I did review five other books which were pretty good.

  5. I’ve had the Betsy-Tacy books on my list for months but still haven’t gotten there. Thanks for the reminder to get on it!

    And I just bought Mindset for Moms–it’s waiting on my Kindle 🙂

    A Million Miles was a re-read for me, and I found the second time through was a different experience. (I did like Blue Like Jazz, though his style in that one drives linear thinkers bananas. For better or worse, I’m not one of those.)

    I got a Goodreads account at the beginning of January and I’m carefully marking everything I read. I never have before, but I”m grateful to have my reading history all in one place.

  6. I just started reading “Hunger Games” aloud with my big kids. It’s so much fun to pass the book around and hear each voice as we take turns while we prep dinner. I’ve been told they are good at public speaking projects at school, and I think reading aloud has helped that.

    This month I read Debt Free U, and highly recommend it. I’ll be passing it on for my ninth-grader to read next year.

  7. I love the books you mentioned above. I read Freckles aloud to my kids, and my oldest daughter owns all of Gene Stratton-Porter’s books, especially Laddie and Girl of the Limberlost, and most of the Betsy-Tacy books. Such wonderful old stories!
    I also enjoyed A Million Miles. As a Type-A goal setter, it really spoke to me about the kind of goals I was setting. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and realize that my story wasn’t worth reading.
    I keep a journal with quotes from the books I read so that I can find them again quickly when I want them. The only problem with this is that when I re-read a book (which I do often) I will have two groups of quotes: some I collected the first time through, others I collected later.

  8. I loved the Betsy-Tacy books growing up, and I didn’t really even know that the series continued past high school until about 10 years ago when I found them and bought the rest of the series. I have 2 boys, but I don’t need girls as an excuse to reread the series about once a year :-).

  9. I tried so hard to enjoy A Million Miles but I just couldn’t get into it. There were parts I did like but overall it just didn’t speak to me because I had a hard time connecting the chapters together and figuring out what the point of the book was. But I did finish it and thats saying something this month.

    My 4 year old and I worked our way through Lion, Witch and the Wardobe this month. She loved it, and while there were many times I thought she was paying any attention at all she would suprise me by asking a question that was very relevant or telling a pretty good summary of the chapter. We started a Hors and his Boy but when she found out Lucy wasn’t in the book she didn’t want to read it so we’ve moved on to Prince Capsian. I’m waiting a little longer to start the Hobbitt with her but we will try- listening to chapter books is a new skill and one that isn’t easy for her.

  10. After reading A Thomas Jefferson Education last year, I began a “common book” where I journal about things I’m reading. It has been great, although now I seem to have more than one journal. There is a moleskin in my purse, a journal with my Bible and the books I read during my quiet time, the original common book on my desk…

  11. I MUST read A Million Miles.
    I have been seeing so many great reviews. I just keep an excel spread sheet of the books I have read. Nothing fancy but I have been doing it for 5 years, now so I know exactly what I have read which is nice. I should do Good Reads…

  12. I’ve added A Million Miles to my to-read list. I enjoyed Blue Like Jazz (theology aside). And I just added Freckles to my Kindle Fire. Thanks so much for that freebie. My younglings will surely love that one!

  13. I love Goodreads for tracking my reading lists. It’s free and pretty simple to set up. I’ve been using it for about three years, and it is fun to look back and see the different books that I read. I can easily share recommendations with friends, that I would otherwise have a hard time remembering. You can set up your shelves how it suits you best, and you can keep notes to go back to about each book, if you would like.

    And thanks for the suggestion of Freckles. I downloaded a free copy. My to-read list is always growing!

  14. I am currently reading “Room”…I really disliked the beginning but I kept reading to see how it ends…I am about 100 pages from being done and I can’t put it down!!!

  15. I started keeping a commonplace book as a reading journal after reading The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. (I blogged about it here: It’s helped me to be able to remember a lot more about the books I read, both short-term and long-term.
    After reading a couple of reviews of A Million Miles I’m definitely adding it to my must-read list 🙂

  16. I started using Good Reads this year, but find it hard to remember to list all my books in any format! This past month I read “Barbara Jordan, An American Hero” – I had bought it at a United Methodist Women’s retreat and felt led to read it during Black History Month. It was very inspiring – Miss Jordan took her weaknesses and made them into her strengths while learning to navigate the political life in such a way as to make a huge difference in the lives of millions of Americans. She never forgot who she was and the people she represented – her value system carried through in all her decisions. My son is studying history and political science and I hope he will read this book as well. It will impact me in many ways especially remembering to stay true to who I am. After that, I read “Ghosty Men: the story of Homer and Langley Collyer” – a Kindle find that was a quick read but inspiring also as it tells the story of the famous New York City hoarders. It will keep me on track for cleaning my house out in 2012. LOL! I appreciate all the book reviews even if I don’t follow the book list. I keep a Books to Check Out list and add new ones each month from your recommendations.

  17. I love Gene Stratton Porter’s books!! But I have to say that my favorites are Laddie, The Harvester and Keeper of the Bees! Love them!
    Oh, just because you have boys….don’t think they will not enjoy Betsy and Tacy! My 9 year old has been loving them!
    I just read Rhythm of Secrets by Patti Lacy. It was a sad, but poignant story of racism and how controlling people, even who seem to love us can cause many issues in our lives, but God can work it out for good!

  18. I too read a lot, and have in the past purchased paper book journals. Then a friend introduced me to Shelfari. It is an online bookshelf. You can keep track of what you have read, what you plan to read, review your books and connect with friends to see what they have read. This has been the best way for me to keep track of what I read. Check it out:)

  19. The best one I read this past month was Folks, This Ain’t Normal, which I linked up, and the best read aloud was Kon-Tiki by Heyerdahl. I read aloud to older kids; this book is not for little ones.

    I very much disliked Blue Like Jazz (review here:, so I’m not adding A Million Miles to my list; there are too many better books out there I’d rather read first. The reviews here confirm that.

    Thanks for hosting!