Saturday, November 6, 2010
How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Book Review
by Michael Gates Gill
Gotham Books, Copyright 2007
265 pages. ISBN 9781592402861
Quote from book: "Work is dignity, I repeated to myself. That could be my mantra."
There were many things I liked about this riches-to-rags-to-riches story. And a few things I had a hard time swallowing. Grab a cup of joe and join me in today's discussion of, How Starbucks Saved My Life, by Michael Gates Gill.
I wasn't sure what to expect and the book left me questioning how transparent the author chose to be. On the surface it's a good story of an older worker who lost it all and found a new beginning as a barista at Starbucks. In the end he wrote a book and sold his story to Creative Artists for a possible movie. Wow! I wish I had thought of that.
The action flows between the past and present. One moment we're hearing about the time the author had a beer with Ernest Hemingway in Spain or rubbed elbows with Queen Elizabeth in his prior life. If this was to impress me it didn't work.
I found myself skimming the passages where many names were dropped and waited for the action to return to Michael mopping the floor in the bathroom at Starbucks or learning the art of coffee. Sort of a humbling experience for this guy who once earned a six figure income.
Starbucks appears to be the shining star where all good things happen. Almost too good to be true. Michael didn't find much to dislike. I was ready to apply for a job after reading the book.
Then it hit me. The author, who attended Yale, spent his career in advertising. Of course! He didn't just stumble into a $10 an hour job at Starbucks but probably saw an opportunity and ran with it. Nothing wrong with that. The story would have been more interesting to me had the author been more honest about his motives.
Otherwise I'm asked to believe that this high powered executive commuted several hours a day to a Manhattan Starbucks, for minimal pay, never thinking anything would come of it, and just walked into fame (and probably fortune).
What do you think?
FTC Note: I saved money for several cappuccino drinks and checked this book out from the Lihue Library.