Customer Reviews: Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance
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VINE VOICEon August 1, 2000
Above, Miller says that he attempted to write a christian book with a secular pen. I agree with him that he has succeeded in doing this, and praise him for it. Prayer and the art of Volkswagen Maintenance is a rarity. It is a truly well-written Christian book. I was very happily surprised.
It is a novelized journal of a pilgrimage-trip, and Miller does an excellent job of moving back and forth between plot narrative and inner reflection. Sometimes, the close attention to detail is tedious, but it's livable. Touches of Annie Dillard, Ernest Hemingway, CS Lewis and John Steinbeck can all be found here. Miller has a gift for dialogue and many passages are really funny, maybe because they feel real.
A nice blending of fun, troubles, and thought and reflection like we all know is possible, but have a hard time capturing. Bravo.
A passage:
"Pretty big church, is it?"
"Yeah, it is. We've got about 200 people there."
A smile comes to my face as Paul's definition of large collides with mine. "Two hundred people would make for a good Sunday school class in Texas. I hate to break it to you, but unless a church has a gym and a bowling alley, they're really not fulfilling the work of the Lord. A church has to have a gym and a bowling alley because people play basketball and bowl and if they do it at church they are more likely to accept Christ. Widows and orphans especially, they play basketball a great deal."
"Is that right?"
"Sure it is."
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on January 20, 2000
As a FORMER Volkswagen owner, tie-dye wearing camp counselor, and CURRENT coffee addicted, 30-something Northwesterner...I HAD to get this book. I read it aloud on a plane ride (seemed appropriate since we were headed for Texas) to the delight of fellow sleepy-headed travellers. I laughed along with passengers B&C, dogeared my favorite pages (pps. 44, 111, 118, 123, 272, & 289) and enjoyed vicariously the physical and spiritual odyssey of two guys, a van and one heck of a road tip!
My thanks to the author for his honest attempt to process & put words to the deafening struggle for understanding our minds wrestle out in the quiet confinds of our souls. "Searchers" will find themselves relating to Miller's quest for answers to the "big" questions in life and empathize as they unravel themselves among the mechanical details of everday living. You'll enjoy the ride!
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on September 15, 2005
Okay, after reading the amazing book titled Blue Like Jazz, I wanted to buy all of Don Miller's other books. Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance was his very first book (written well before Blue Like Jazz) and has been out of print for some time. For a while there, you could not find it for under $40-50. But, I have good news! After I purchased Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller, I quickly discovered that it is in fact "Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance" that has been reprinted with a new title under Don's current publisher! He explains it on the front dedication page to his mother. Hooray! Now you know, and you can get his first book for much less then the out of print version.
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VINE VOICEon September 1, 2001
There's something about the idea of "finding oneself" on the open road that really gets me going. I'm a sucker for any book along those lines, whether it's about a spontaneous summer road-trip across the States, or the tale of an epic backpacking journey around the world. There's a special place in my heart for the somewhat rare Christian-themed story of this nature, and that's where this excellent book comes in.
Adventures like this tend to be lived out by the younger crowd - those in their late teens or early twenties, anxious to see what's "out there" in the world and learn something about themselves in the process. In "Prayer and the Art of Volkswagon Maintenance," the two protagonists fit this description to a tee. Donald and Paul are young twentysomething Christian men, and they have a desire to know God in a deeper sense. Their solution - a road trip! Starting from Texas, they decide to head off to Oregon in Paul's beat-up VW van. Along the way, they discuss the usual questions that young men wrestle with - relationships with women, their future, and so on. They also meet a number of interesting characters on the road, usually when struggling with their somewhat unreliable vehicle.
However, since this book has a Christian slant, there is spiritual depth as well. Both of these guys really do want to go deeper with God, and they end up digging into some serious meat along those lines. Donald, driven by intellect and facts, repeatedly explores the book of Ecclesiastes during the trip in an attempt to make sense of the time we are given upon this world. Paul is more in tune with his feelings and emotions, and goes to a deeper level with God via prayer during some tense moments. Together they make the perfect team for this type of excursion, and both come to know more about themselves and their God. All of this is expertly chronicled by Donald's outstanding writing - he made me feel that I was right along with them every step of the way.
The neatest thing about this book for me was their detour through my hometown, and the awesome consequence of that seemingly insignificant decision (SPOILER HINT: it has to do with marriage). How cool is that?! Absolutely recommended!
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on January 11, 2015
I discovered Don Miller with Blue Like Jazz and I've read everything he's published. Don writes about a difficult subject-applying Christian faith to daily living. And he does so with such transparency-he's not afraid to look like an idiot. I love him all the more for that. Here's where the rubber meets the road, folks.
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on June 15, 2016
Oh Donald Miller, you wonderful you. This is your best. Blue Like Jazz was fantastic too, but there is just something about this memoir. And if we are judging books by their cover, this one wins for sure. That title is just fantastic.
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on December 16, 2012
The title says it all ... although it could just as easily be titled "Volkswagen's and the art of prayer maintenance".
Loved the story and loved the word structure. Donald Miller is able to paint clear and vivid images via his choice and connection of words, and this allows the reader to quickly become part of the story, as opposed to being an outsider. Found myself smiling often and nodding in agreement as the story unfolded. The notion of breaking away from the noise and speed of life ... even just for a few months ... is a dream many people have, but few ever accomplish. Have recommended to friends and family, hopefully they will read and enjoy also.
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I first bought this book because it had an interesting title. After purchasing it, I told my friends about it. Many of them had already read it and told me it was a really good book. I must disagree with them. This is not a good book. This is a great book.

Many books recently published dealing with Christianity aren't worth reading, let alone buying. Many of these books claim to have the answer to all life's problems in either three or ten spiritual steps: do this & this & that & God will take care of all your problems. These books aren't evil, but for all their good intentions they turn God into a dashboard Jesus that fits equally well on the dash of your car or in your pocket.

Miller is unlike that. In his quest to seek a deeper relationship with God, Miller raises questions that many of us face sometime in our lives; not all of us need to take a physical journey to set sail on a spiritual one. Miller is open and honest. After so much fuzzy-Christianity in the air of our modern culture, his honesty is like a cool breeze after a scorching summer's day.

Not only is this book enlightening, but it is also entertaining. I found the physical adventures in the Volkswagen to be quite amusing. My first car was a little red 87 Toyota Corolla and I traveled throughout the country in it. Reading about the troubles the van gave its two adventurers brought back many fond (and not so fond) memories with my little red car. But even if you've never had experiences like that, they still make for fun and entertaining reading.
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on March 29, 2000
I don't read many novels, but this one was well worth my time. It is unusual to find a Christian book that is so honest about disappointments and a yearning for something deeper with Christ. It was comforting to find someone else thinking through the same questions I have and watching them find answers. This book was engaging, funny ( I laughed out loud!), beautifully written, but most of all thought provoking. I highly recommend it to anyone who's tired of having a luke warm experience of GOD!
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on February 12, 2000
as a new northwesterner, i was interested int the physical journey from texas to oregon.(mine was tennessee to oregon) but as a christian looking for something deeper than sunday-go-to-church religion, i found a book to help me on that never ending trip. it encouraged me to look deeper than the cultural christianity so many use to feel good, to really examine my relationship with god. pick this up for a good soul-searching story of self discovery.
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