In college, one of my friends thought a jazz book was misplaced in the spirituality section of the local bookstore. He bought it, liked it, passed it around his apartment and the rest of campus. None of us realized how big this book would be. That was Blue Like Jazz in 2003, which author Donald Miller himself never imagined would be a big hit. Miller admits in Jazz Notes that the books success surprised him, and he “anticipated about 90 percent more [negative feedback]” than he got.
Five years later, Miller himself has moved on, as have many of the crowd’s favorite characters, including Tony the Beat Poet and Pastor Rick. The book had sold over one million copies, and the screenplay for “Blue Like Jazz: The Movie” is complete and ready for filming. Now, Miller revisits Blue Like Jazz with Jazz Notes: Improvisations on Blue Like Jazz, a remix version, giftbook style.
Miller’s story is riveting at times. His stories are vividly honest and he asks questions that other people of faith often avoid. He talks about the first time he sinned at the age of 10. He talks about his friend Laura, a pastor’s daughter and avid non-Christian, exploring God and the Bible. He tells the ever-popular story of setting up a Confession Booth at Reed College in Portland, a notoriously secular school, where he and his friends apologized for everything that Christians had done wrong.
Blue Like Jazz is one of those books that I read nearly a half-dozen times, and it was difficult to decipher the new material from the old in Jazz Notes. Even if you have read it a dozen times, Miller writes with a freshness that will grab you every time. Clips from Blue Like Jazz are woven together with Miller’s commentary, new stories, and updates on the original story. The book also features a CD of Miller reading excerpts from the audio book.
If you are really interested in Blue Like Jazz, I would recommend the entire book. If you’ve read Blue Like Jazz and know friends who would like it, or if you want just a quick read, pick up a copy of Jazz Notes. And stay tuned for “Blue Like Jazz: The Movie” and Let Story Guide You, Miller’s much anticipated new book due out later this year.