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Opinion: 3 good reads to close out the summer

Summer Book Club

Posted online

There’s still time to take a vacation this summer. Set up your lawn chair, kick off your shoes – and open a great book.

Here are my latest, favorite recommendations.

“The Miracle Morning,” by Hal Elrod

As a 20-year-old, Hal Elrod had life by the tail: good job prospects, a beautiful girlfriend and lots of blue sky. A head-on car crash almost ended it. He literally died, for 6 minutes, as his crushed body was being transported to the hospital.

Elrod slowly recovered physically, and began to reclaim his life and rebuild his career. Then, a financial crisis swept him into an even more devastating life situation.

Elrod developed crippling depression. In an effort to help, a friend suggested he get up earlier than he usually did so he could fit in a run. Of course, Elrod responded, “I hate to run. I’m not sure I can with the screws in my legs. And I don’t get enough sleep as it is.”

Blah blah blah. Elrod was irritated by his own excuses. So he got up the next morning and went for a run.

And he went the next day. As he ran – rather painfully at first – he started to think of other positive things he could do to turn around his life. He committed to getting up at 5 a.m. to spend a whole hour on personal development before his workday began. He added meditation, journaling, affirmations, visualization and reading to his morning exercise routine. What happened next, well, Elrod calls his book “The Miracle Morning.” It’s a fun, short read (or listen) with a workable method for increasing energy, motivation and productivity.

“Barkskins: A Novel,” by Annie Proulx  

The key to a winning business or self-help book is a compelling life story, as told by the author. (See Hal Elrod’s life, death, life, worse than death, mind-blowing success story.)

Alas, most nonfiction, including my books, are not written exceptionally well. In other words, nonfiction writers are not necessarily great writers.

So, I also read a lot of novels. A well-crafted sentence moves me, like a stunning photograph or a stirring movement of music. Literature is important for how it makes you feel and think. Art matters.

“Barkskins” is beautifully written. Read it for the gorgeous landscapes, interesting descriptions of bygone technologies, and multiple generations of intriguing woodsmen and timber barons. Also, Proulx vividly chronicles the history of the timber industry in North America. Every energy industry has a life cycle. Some energy, like timber, is renewable. However, greed and corruption can eclipse what can and should be done for the sake of short-term profits.

Proulx involves Native American characters, who illustrate the relationship people had with the land before the Europeans arrived. They embraced a mutually beneficial approach to life in the forest and saw no need to cut it down for farming and to raise animals. The forest, as they saw it, already was full of animals and fresh food.

We know the heartbreaking history. Still, Proulx’s humane look at the timber industry’s rise and inevitable change is a good study for today’s energy challenges, and the sticky yet essential role of international trade.

“The Constitution of the United States of America,” by the Delegates of the Constitutional Congress

Every day, our politicians and media professionals – as well as crazy Uncle Howie on Facebook – reference the Constitution as they lay out political reasoning and arguments. So, I decided to read it. I am embarrassed to admit how much I had forgotten since fifth-grade civics class. It’s nice to be able to reference it on my phone and iPad. And I believe it is required to make good political choices. You can pick up a copy for free on Amazon.

Here’s some final food for thought on reading and writing:
“What you don’t know would make a great book.” —Sydney Smith, English writer in the 1800s

Ellen Rohr is an author and business consultant offering profit-building tips, trending business blogs and online workshops at Her books include “Where Did the Money Go?” and “The Bare Bones Weekend Biz Plan.” She can be reached at


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