Off the Shelf - October

Just two book reviews this month, friends! With my own book launching next week, there wasn't much time for leisure reading this past month. We'll get back on track In November!

The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life
Hal Elrod

In my effort to be more productive, I purchased the Kindle edition of this book. And then didn't read it for months. That was a mistake! The book essentially opens with the scene of the author's car accident. He calls his survival a miracle and the catalyst for him making the choice to be "grateful for all that I had."

The author talks about mediocrity in our lives -- how we tend do be doing well in one area but mediocre in another (or others). I think a lot about work-life balance, so this rang true for me. What causes mediocrity? The author talks about a lack of purpose as one reason, lack of accountability as another, as well as a mediocre circle of influence, a lack of personal development, and a lack of urgency.

He then talks about how a morning routine can set our day up for success and lists some of the most common results: more energy, lower stress levels, improved health, less worry, more gratitude, uncovering your life purpose. The challenge with any routine, the author says, is finding the time. He insists that it must be the morning because then there is no time for "excuses to accumulate" throughout the day. (Good point!)

Another challenge is figuring out what will be the most impactful for you. The author has six areas he focuses on: silence (meditation; 5 minutes), reading (learning from experts; 20 minutes), affirmations (5 minutes), visualization (5 minutes), journaling (5 minutes), and exercise (20 minutes). This is a 60-minute routine. There is a chapter in the book titled "The 6-Minute Miracle (For the Busy People)" in case you really can't do 60 minutes a day.

Throughout the book are testimonials from real people whose lives have been changed and impacted by implementing a morning routine.

The author also addresses the elephant in the room: sleep. Chapter 5 offers a "5-Step Snooze-Proof Wake-Up Strategy" so we have no excuses not to at least try to develop this habit.

I enjoyed this book tremendously and have implemented some of it. I've got a ways to go, but I'm making progress!

Here are a few quotes from The Miracle Morning that resonated with me:

"While blame determines who is at fault for something, responsibility determines who is committed to improving them."

"Even when life is difficult or challenging -- ESPECIALLY when life is difficult and challenging -- the present is always an opportunity for us to learn, grow, and become better than we've ever been before."

"Our outer world will always be a reflection of our inner world."


The Dressmaker
Kate Alcott

The Dressmaker tells the tale of Tess, an aspiring seamstress who is hired by famed designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon to be her maid on their voyage on the Titanic. Tess bites her tongue and keeps her head down regularly, both on the ship and once they reach New York City, in the hope that she will earn increased responsibilities from Lady Duff Gordon and be taken under her wing so that she can be a famous designer one day, too.

Lady Lucile Duff Gordon was not a particularly likable woman. Even when circumstances are revealed to soften her (namely, Tess is the same age as the daughter Duff Gordon wanted), it falls flat because she has been so nasty to all those around her. Does she just have a nasty personality, though, or is she evil, as she's being accused of letting others perish while sitting in a mostly empty lifeboat? On that front, I admit it is easy to say that I would've done the right thing on one of those lifeboats. But to consider that there were hundreds and hundreds of people screaming in the water for help, the noise and the panic and the chaos -- well, who can say?

Tess is confronted with knowing, deep down, the truth about Lady Duff Gordon, and either keeping quiet (but retaining her income, job, security) or standing up for what was right. Never mind that the person being taking the rap in her place was Tess's love interest.

I wished there was more about the Titanic in The Dressmaker, but that happened at the very beginning of the book. The book was mainly set in New York, which was fine, but the Titanic was the hook that first interested me in the book. This is not quite a beach read, but it's a fairly light read. Worth checking out!