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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How to Save Your Own Life - Michael Gates Gill

A little while back I was asked by TLC Book Tours if I wanted to read and review Michael Gates Gill's latest book How to Save Your Own Life. I had heard of his first book, How Starbucks Saved My Life -- a type of "riches to rags" sort of memoir but I had never read it.

So I said, sure I'll read it! Later though I wasn't so sure. I mean, I'm not really the "self-help" type of book reader although it is fairly short, around 200 pages. Surprisingly, this book came along for me at the perfect time.

If you haven't heard of these books, here's the gist:

Michael Gates Gill had been working for over twenty-five years as an ad agency director. He was born into a life of privilege and being in the Yale crowd, pretty much given his job and that was that. In one fail swoop -- he loses his job, his marriage, has a child outside of his marriage, and is diagnosed with a brain tumor. I And sometimes I think I have it hard! Down and out, he manages to get a job at Starbucks and his eyes are opened to a world where deadlines and blackberries are out, and being happy and helpful are in.

Honestly, the first two chapters were the best ones for me. For some strange reason, this book fell into my lap at the best time. Right now, my husband and I are contemplating a lot of changes. My husband has a master's degree in mechanical engineering and after working in the field for some years, he just has never enjoyed it and usually just plain hates it. So he's thinking about going back to school for something he actually wants to do. How scary but exciting! Actually, yesterday he put in his two weeks at work.

We are also in the middle of trying to move out of our apartment, even though our lease isn't up until this next summer. I've been pretty sick for about a year now with allergies and eczema. My doctor thought it was a food allergy but I am convinced now that it is due to a ton of mold in our apartment. I didn't have proof though until I pulled our Christmas tree box down from our closet and it was stuck to a ton of mold on the wall. Yeah. That is disgusting. So we are changing it. Getting out so we can get healthy and happy.

So when Gill wrote that if you are less than thrilled about what you are doing...change it!! -- well, that just spoke right to me. Don't wait until something drastic, like a brain tumor, makes you change how you live. We decided that while it's extremely scary to change our life to be happy, it's definitely more scary to stay where we are. One of his chapters or "lessons" is "Leap...With Faith", and that is just what we are going to do.

The rest of the book was, I thought, a nice memoir-ish about what Michael Gates Gill has been through and what he's learned. I especially enjoyed the sections on learning from your father and mother. His father was a writer for The New Yorker and just seemed like such a character. Even though his father passed away a few years ago, he is still continuing to learn from his example. I loved that. My husband and I both lost our fathers to cancer but I still think my father was an amazing example of what a husband and father should be. And our moms, well, they are just amazing ladies.

I don't know what I would have thought about this book had I not been in this place in my life. All I know is that I am glad I read it when I did.

Here's Michael Gates Gill at his new job:
Michael Gates Gill's TLC Tour Stops:

Monday, January 4th: Mid-Life Bloggers
Wednesday, January 6th: Books on the Brain
Thursday, January 7th: The Written World
Tuesday, January 12th: TexasRed's Books
Wednesday, January 13th: It's All a Matter of Perspective
Thursday, January 14th: A Novel Menagerie
Friday, January 15th: Nanny Goats in Panties
Tuesday, January 19th: Confessions of a Book-a-holic
Wednesday, January 20th: Thoughts of an Evil Overlord
Monday, January 25th: Silver and Grace
Tuesday, January 26th: Inventing My Life

**A big thanks to TLC Book Tours for letting me read this book and to Michael Gates Gill for coming out with this book at the perfect time for me.


  1. I just found out about this book this week. I read his other book and absolutely loved it. Like you, I read it at the right time of my life. It spoke to me and I just felt so reassured about the changes I was making in my life. (changing from the big job to another - very similar to Mr. Gates - no tumor though) I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed book. I must look for it at the library which is where I'm heading to now.

    Mold - yuck! Get yourself healthy, girl!

  2. Isn't it funny how some things just fall into your hands when you need them both? Best of luck to you and your husband on your new happy life!

  3. Amanda, thank you for a lovely review. I'm so happy this book found you at the exact right time. I think the timing, with the New Year and all, is right for a lot of people!

    I hope you and your honey make all the right decisions and changes that will make you happy! Thanks again for the time and energy that went into reading and reviewing this book. It is much appreciated!

  4. Good luck to your husband -- I hope he finds what he wants to do. And get away from that mold!

  5. I quite enjoy self help books as they make me feel better and appreciate life. I would definitely enjoy this one. Good luck with all the changes in your life.

  6. We had friends who had a huge mold probem in house they rented - it was everywhere! You are so right in getting out and recovering your health. Good luck :)
    I'm going to have to find this book. It sounds perfect for this time of year.

  7. Don't you love when a book comes at just the right time?

    That said, Starbucks Saved My Life was a DNF for me.

  8. Hello, Amanda. This is cool. A friend of mine just suggested this book to me. I love self-help books...I think I'm going to head to the bookshop today and get this! Thanks for sharing! :-)


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