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To Own a Dragon: Reflections on Growing Up Without a Father

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  3,408 Ratings  ·  256 Reviews
Good dads are almost as rare as fire-breathing dragons--or at least it seems. New from Donald Miller, author of the critically acclaimed Blue Like Jazz, comes a gut-wrenching honest look at growing up without a father. In his uniquely compelling style, Miller (and John MacMurray--the man who taught Donald many of the lessons his dad never did) reflects on what it is a fath ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published February 5th 2006 by NavPress Publishing Group (first published February 1st 2006)
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Aug 27, 2010 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
For some reason this book isn't considered one of Donald Miller's "greatest hits" but I consider this book one of my all time favorites. If you know anyone who grew up without their father, hand this to them. Miller gears this book toward males, but it was very relevant for me as a female. It is sad, but I've suspected for a long time this book didn't do so well because of the cover - it is really ugly.
Jun 20, 2010 Lyndsey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
This might be a five star. I found this book to be thoughtfully written and thought-provoking. I grew up having a great relationship with my father. Miller, however, grew up with a mostly absent father. This book contains his reflections on the place of fatherhood in society and how the absence of fathers affect us. (Eighty-five percent of prison inmates grew up in a fatherless home.)

I like his observations about family. He talks a lot about how parents instill purpose into the lives of their c
Chip Hill
Apr 20, 2012 Chip Hill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As always, Don knocks it out of the park. Terrific insight on a difficult subject. I was hooked from the prologue. I think you will be, too.
Becky Giovagnoni
Sep 28, 2016 Becky Giovagnoni rated it really liked it
I love everything Donald Miller writes - this one because it helps me understand my husband better. So grateful he shared his own journey and pain so others (like me) could connect with it.
Sep 07, 2010 Cori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was not really written for me. A) I am a woman and B) I have a great dad. This book was written primarily to the staggering number of fatherless boys and men out there, who struggle with their identities and figuring out how they fit into the world. Something like 90 percent of men in prison come from fatherless families, and knowing this (and being a fatherless son who could have easily ended up in prison) Miller lays out some life lessons for those who find themselves without a dad t ...more
Dec 09, 2012 Bryon rated it it was amazing

I just finished reading Don Miller's To Own a Dragon. It was a great read, although, someone will have to explain the title to me.

Reading Don Miller is a lot of fun. He makes you think. Blue Like Jazz was the book that put Miller on the map. My favorite book of Don's is Searching for God Knows What. Don knocked it out of the park with that one. I couldn't hang in there long enough to enjoy Through Painted Deserts, but my wife liked it.

To Own a Dragon was good, though. Miller really does have a
Eric Dunn
Sep 01, 2011 Eric Dunn rated it it was amazing
This is the third book I have read by Donald Miller. The other two are Blue like Jazz and Searching for God Knows What. I am a big fan of the way Miller writes. His books make me laugh and they also make me contemplate. He has a way of writing that makes it feel like you are having a conversation with him.

This book is about growing up without a father and the affect that can have on your life. My father was an active part of my life, but in my line of work with youth at our church I run into kid
Amberlee Bixler
Aug 02, 2011 Amberlee Bixler rated it it was amazing
To Own A Dragon is soon to be re-released under a different title, relative more deftly to the elephant's referenced in the writings.

I have to admit, I am a fatherless child as well, but I did not respond to this book at all the way I thought I would. Mr. Miller's prose, although hauntingly beautiful and powerful in its simplicity, told the story of a boy thrust into adulthood unprepared and ill-equipped due to the lack of a father in his life. It seemed, given our similar childhood experiences
Tom Bazan
Aug 29, 2010 Tom Bazan rated it liked it
Shelves: christian
What can I say? It is a Donald Miller book. If you like his books, you'll like this. If you don't, then you probably won't. He has a natural way of showing his life--complete with struggles, victories, embarrassing experiences. I've seen Miller lumped in with some emergent thinkers; I've talked with many who would prefer to keep him out of that group. Part of this reason is likely because when you get to the end of his books you don't really know where he stands on some things--some important th ...more
J. Alfred
Aug 20, 2015 J. Alfred rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somebody gave me this book back when it was called To Own a Dragon (the superior title). I read it at a pivotal time in my life, and reading it brought to my attention a lot of the issues that growing up without a father around can cause, and which we typically try to downplay or ignore until somebody brings them out in the open in a disarming way, like Miller does. It helped me think through my taste in girls, my difficulty in submitting to authority, my feelings about a number of different thi ...more
Missy Dollahon
Sep 16, 2013 Missy Dollahon rated it it was amazing
Donald Miller says that this book is really just for men who were raised without fathers - in this he is wrong. Because it is also, apparently, for women who were raised by such men, men who repeat the same patterns their fathers taught them, even if they physically remain in the home. I fall into the latter, and so much of my heart was articulated on the pages of this book. I understand more of what it is like to be a fatherless boy and I understand more of myself.

(And the I intend to re-read
Rohan Kallicharan
Jan 07, 2012 Rohan Kallicharan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chronicles, religion
Donald Miller is easy to read and very engaging with his reader. He is able to approach potentially difficult subjects in an uncomplicated manner, which is the secret to his success.

This book will help those who have grown up without the presence of a father, whether through death, abandonment or any other circumstance. It also affirms the role of a mother - particularly the single one.

It is a very enjoyable yet uplifting read.
Aug 29, 2011 Justin rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent and simple read. There were many times that I, very loudly, laughed out loud at some of the stuff Miller wrote about. Some of the hilarity had to do how I could relate with a lot of his life experience even while having a different story. I think that this really helped awaken areas that are still healing in me and pressed them onto greater healing.
Oct 10, 2012 Sundi rated it really liked it

Speechless. Though this book was geared towards men, any woman that grew up with an absent father can benefit. Don provides wisdom, humor, and a beautiful picture of the amazing God we serve. I can never get enough of Donald Miller's words.
Jun 08, 2016 Amy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
I'm not a man, nor did I grow up without a father, but this book spoke to broken places and reminded me what God's fathering of me can look like.
"...I clapped, and I meant it. It felt good to take a stand for somebody who nobody else was taking a stand for." (24)

"All my life I have been fascinated by stuff that isn't there." (29)

"I am not going to tell you it was easy. There were times I would have rather lived on my own, played my music as loud as I wanted, come home drunk, whatever. But playing your music as loud as you want and coming home drunk aren't real life. Real life, it turns out, is diapers and lawnmowers, decks that need pain
Pavo Kardel
Oct 08, 2016 Pavo Kardel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2k16
In my life I read only few books, that made me stop and mediate every few pages about what I just read, and this was one of them. This book is filled with wisdom all the fatherless generation is missing. Don is surly provoking some serious thinking and is pushing you toward good change in just dozen of pages, record of his own experience and thoughts. It's one of those books that stays with you for a long time like a good, older friend.
Marco Ambriz
Oct 05, 2016 Marco Ambriz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Donald Miller does it again. He's such a good story teller. This book also inspired me to consider investing more intentionally in the lives of young people who don't have supporting systems with adults speaking positively into their lives. But don't be fooled, the book is not only for those who are fatherless. I think it speaks to us all in our soul's longing for belonging, acceptance and someone to be proud of us and to cheer us on. I have found that in God, my own dad and in other mentors. Gr ...more
Laura Droege
Jul 21, 2011 Laura Droege rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bestselling author Donald Miller wants to rewrite the story of fatherlessness in America. He's not only seen what happens when a child grows up without a dad, but he's lived it: his father left the family when he was a small boy. It felt him feeling like half a man, certain that boys with fathers were taught what it meant to be a "real man", and torn between the desire to scoff at the need for a father and desire to be fathered.

In Father Fiction, he writes candidly about his experiences. Various
Jul 23, 2011 Kurt rated it really liked it
This is a Donald Miller book full of his characteristic style - self-deprecating gentle humor, honest observations, quiet conversations, awkward oversharing about interactions with women, references to his childish refusal to read the Bible, beautiful musings on God's love without any real mention of the cross. In theory, there is a common thread about the damage done to children who grow up without fathers, but it doesn't really unite the book in practice. As they did in Blue Like Jazz, Miller' ...more
Jun 01, 2012 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, summer-12, essay
This is a Don Miller book. Hence,

-Charming anecdotes from his life

This book is more on the raw side of human experience, but it nevertheless keeps a spry tone. Don writes on what the lack of a father meant to him and the texture of his growth into manhood. Because failure is inherant to this process there is plenty to entertain.

-Self-deprecating wit

The highlights in this category come from the times when his less-mature views clash with God's or a mentor's more-mature views. An example is when h
Jan 16, 2016 Nikki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
"The pilot would radio to a plane that was en route an hour or so ahead of us and get a report on what kind of turbulence they were experiencing; then, he would turn and radio the plane that had taken off in Chicago to explain what sort of air we were flying through at the moment... I could see it clearly, the fact that in life there are people being born, just as others are passing away. And all the way through, the guys who are twenty years ahead are teaching the guys twenty years behind what ...more
Thomas Freeman
Feb 03, 2010 Thomas Freeman rated it it was amazing
This book is going to go down as one of the most life changing books I will have read in 2009.

I really enjoy Donald Miller's writing style. I really want to read more of his work. I don't believe that he has the greatest grasp on theology but God has taught him many things in regards to being "Fathered" by God and Donald does a great job of presenting it in this book. He uses fantastic analogies, great profound thoughts and very clear explanations.

Donald has written the book from the standpoint
Amanda R
Jun 18, 2007 Amanda R rated it really liked it
So, I grew up with a father, a great one at that, so I mainly read this book because I am a big fan of Donald Miller. It was great to get Don's perspective about being fatherless, and the huge impact that can have on someone. Don's writing is simple, but not simplistic. He bears his soul, and its impossible not to be touched by his insight. His walk through his faith, and how to relate to God the Father was eye-opening for me. I've given the book to Gabe to read, as I think any father should, to ...more
May 09, 2015 Damir rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fatherless Sons, Christian Fathers
To begin, I must state forthright that I have a bias both for and against this book. Growing up as one of the fatherless sons Mr. Miller writes about, I have a favorable outlook towards any book that delves into a topic so often swept under the rug. However, thankfully or not, the bias of being without a father seems to be cancelled out quite nicely by my agnostic and scientific beliefs; I only mention this because this book delves into spiritual and religious waters (specifically Christian wate ...more
James Morovich
Sep 03, 2015 James Morovich rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have known of this book's existence for several years now. However, I was always hesitant to read it because Miller's main purpose in writing this book, so it seemed, was to encourage and help those who, like him, grew up without their fathers around to help guide them in what it looks like to become a Godly man.

I have been blessed to grow up with a loving Dad, who taught me a lot about what it means to be a Godly man and leader. Therefore, I felt I would feel strange reading this book.

Greg Dill
Personal and poignant, but lacking. This is how I best describe Miller's odyssey into understanding what it is like to live without a father in "Father Fiction". I decided to read this book because the book description really hit home with me. My father abandoned me when I was 16 years old. That was almost 30 years ago and I had never seen him ever since. I later found out he died several years ago due to cancer. What was done was done. Forgiven.

While much of what Miller describes in this book
Shera Melton
May 23, 2013 Shera Melton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I grew up with both of my parents, but they were very distant. My dad was disabled, so my mom had to work second shift to provide for us. That meant when I was at school, she was home, and when I got home from school, she had just gone to work. My dad was very distant, doing his own thing and not really every talking to me or caring about me. When they divorced when I was 16, I finally just had to cut all contact with him. He was trying to use me for his own benefit, and to punish my mom, and it ...more
Rachel Kim
Oct 18, 2013 Rachel Kim rated it it was amazing
it felt like a personal long conversation with the author moving along topics. If i could I'd give it a 4.5 because it was perfect with the right topics for me right now in my stage of life. Miller warns in the prologue it's directed more for males but I don't know I guess I'm a male on the inside then because it was simple, basic, yet funny and sarcastic and yet slightly deep. It feels like Tuesdays with Morrie but a little more sarcastic, not as feel-good and emotional, and a little bit more r ...more
Jan 25, 2011 Cassie rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
This may only be the second work of Donald Miller's that I have read, but he is quickly becoming a favorite. His writing is always light, humorous and conversational - which works for me. He writes from life and what he knows, and the uncertainty he has struggled with along the way. I was initially attracted to this book because: a) I knew it would be spiritually related; and b) I lost my father at a very young age. This book is clearly not designed for the female reader, and makes the assumptio ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Donald Miller grew up in Houston, Texas. Leaving home at the age of twenty-one, he traveled across the country until he ran out of money in Portland, Oregon, where he lives today.

Harvest House Publishers released his first book, Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance, in 2000. Two years later, after havin
More about Donald Miller...

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