Books: How Starbucks Saved My Life – Michael Gates Gill

So, first, I realize that it’s been far too long since I wrote anything.  The reasons for this are various and have absolutely nothing to do with the book in the subject line.  The book I just finished is merely an excuse to write something and provide this bit of drivel as a preface.  There has been much tumult and annoyance in my life since the last post that you couldn’t care less about but suffice to say that I have learned to live by the wise credo that to live a life fully one need merely pay attention, state one’s opinion clearly and concisely and honestly and then detach from whatever outcome may result.  It is no man’s task to fix the world.  Do your part and then move on, I say.  And with that monstrously opaque preamble out-of-the-way, we move on to the topic at hand.

I read this book because I was having one of THOSE Saturday mornings.  Have you ever had one of those mornings when you just need something… something to read and since your wife is one of those really wonderfully bookish people you happen to have just stacks and stacks of books handy and can pick something rather randomly and sit down to read it?  It’s rather like living in a library staffed by an impossibly sweet and wonderful person who you also happen to get to sleep next to.  At any rate, I digress.  I picked up this book at random and … well, after a couple of days I can’t say that I’m disappointed in the book itself but I do find myself rather disappointed with the reality therein presented.

It’s worth noting that I am by nature a cynical person and I get that the wealthy in this country  are detached from the reality of the less fortunate.  I don’t expect them to know how it is “growing up in the hood” but the author of this book seems more hopelessly clueless than one could reasonably imagine.  Sure, he grew up in affluence but he seems almost ignorant that there are people in the world who are NOT affluent.  His writing style is child-like and his themes, at least from the viewpoint of a lower-middle class person, are obvious and pedantic.  There’s no news here.

What is refreshing and inspiring is his view of Starbucks as a corporation.  I’m not a coffee-drinker so I’m about as detached from this company as they come.  I bought some stock a while back… and then sold it, but that hardly counts as knowing their culture.  Admittedly I’m a bit old-fashioned.  I want a company (and a job at said company) to be a family.  Not a family born out of a common enemy like a U.S. Marine’s drill Sargent, but a family born out of a common goal and a real sense of supportiveness.  Gill’s portrayal of Starbucks is exactly that.  I’m sure that he’s taken plenty of artistic license with the reality of working at Starbucks, but if even half of what he says is accurate then it’s a step up from the average corporate reality.

To sum up, the book is a unique viewpoint.  It’s one that we never think about generally because we assume that nobody’s actually that naïve.  Clearly though, there are some that ARE that naïve.  One feels for the narrator in the same way one feels for Lenny in Of Mice and Men just before he gets shot in the head.  Mercifully, our narrator survives but he does have the same dopey aspect that makes one feel sorry for him nonetheless.



Filed under 2000s, literature and books, non-fiction

4 responses to “Books: How Starbucks Saved My Life – Michael Gates Gill

  1. I haven’t read this book (yet). But I do have Peter Buffett’s book, “Life is What You Make It,” on my nightstand (collecting dust). Perhaps it’s comparing apples to oranges, but your post reminded me about Peter’s book, and I wonder if you’ve read it and have any thoughts about it? In other words, should I do some dusting?

  2. I haven’t read the Buffett book so I can’t really say. The book you’re referring to sounds rather self-helpish. This book isn’t really about helping anyone so much as a long-winded way of saying, “let me tell you what an idiot I was”. So it may be apples and bowling balls. 🙂

  3. alice kraft

    I read the book and enjoyed it as a quick summer read. I was glad that Michael Gates Gill did learn some life lessons that he hadn’t connected with yet.
    However, I would really like to know about Michael’s life since the book came out. I know a movie was made, though I haven’t seen it. I know he did the lecture circuit, at least a bit. What I want to know is if he is still living by those life lessons from Starbucks.

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