Not to pat myself on the back too much here, but, guys, this was a great book to end on for 2014. Didn't you think so? It was funny, touching, and (as promised) totally affirming. It made me love Amy Poehler even more than I already did, which is way too much for someone I don't know personally.
So now that you know I loved the book (big spoiler, I'm sure) let me back up. Trey can tell you that at first, I wasn't that into it. I was initially surprised by this as I've read a number of books by comedians this year, and I pretty much liked them all. But then I realized that I didn't actually read them, read them. I had listened to them. And part of me wishes I had listened to this book instead of reading it. So if you haven't read it yet, you might consider getting the audiobook instead. The other thing was Poehler spends a bit too much time talking about how hard it is to write a book at first. Which, I appreciate the honesty, but that's not exactly a vote of confidence from an author. I mean, is this book going to be any good if the author is out of the gate saying how difficult this was to write and how long it took, etc. But ultimately I think Poehler was just warming up. She obviously can write, she's made a career out of it (as well as performing), so I think I was just ready to jump into it.
I honestly feel like I learned a lot and laughed a ton during this read, but here's a few things that stand out to me (let's use these to springboard into our discussion):
1. I appreciate Poehler's willingness to admit and talk about a time when she handled a situation poorly.
None of us are perfect. We all put our foot in our mouth sometimes, or just do something that we regret and need to apologize for later. Poehler explained one of these moments from her own life when she performed in an SNL skit where she played Dakota Fanning and (as Fanning, with a deformed doll as a prop) references her upcoming film Hurricane Mary, "Where my sister and I play severely disabled twins." She didn't realize this was a real movie, based on real events. The film was written by Marianne Cooper who had a special interest in the project as her own son was also born with special needs, like the sisters the film is based on. The Coopers wrote to Poehler about the skit, which she immediately regretted, but she didn't apologize to them until five years later.
2. I love how she handles the subject of her divorce and how she talks about her former husband.
Poehler is a celebrity. So we all know about her divorce. I personally didn't want to read all about her divorce, and I didn't necessarily expect to in this book. So when she chose to gloss over that event in her life, simply acknowledging it but saying it's too sad and personal to talk about, I get it. She also references Will Arnett in the book often, usually in a very positive way, highlighting that he's a great father and was a supportive husband. She also thanked him in the acknowledgements at the end of the book. I think choosing to focus on the positive, even when a situation clearly isn't how you wanted it to turn out or isn't ideal in some way, is a very graceful way to live life. And if you can tell a great fart joke AND navigate a public divorce with class, well, you're just a cool lady in my book.
3. I love Poehler's alternative title, Surf Through Life. I also love the title Yes Please.
The first thing you ever learn in improv is to say yes. You always say yes to your partner and yes to whatever situation is happening. And Poehler shows throughout the book that this life lesson has served her well. Obviously she's also an extremely talented and hardworking individual as well. So, that makes a big difference in life. But I also think she clearly shows over and over that trying to go with the flow of life (instead of against it) has gotten her to where she is. And I think that's SO encouraging. None of us can control our life 100% of the time. Waves happen, sometimes suddenly and unexpectedly. And Poehler says to surf! Don't swim against it, go with it and see where it takes you.
4. The most unexpected thing from this book for me was her chapter on her trip to Haiti.
First, I didn't realize she had volunteered in Haiti, so I just wasn't expecting that chapter. But then to read about her experience there, seeing all those orphans from her perspective (a mother as well as just Amy Poehler) was heart-breaking. I'm sort of tearing up as I just type this little bit about it right now. I was not expecting this book to remind me to give back and be thankful for all I have, but it certainly did just that. Poehler shows how grounded and "normal" she is for a famous person (a faux award she won while in Haiti), and this was especially showcased in that chapter. It reminded me that I should strive to do more for others in whatever opportunities come my way in my own life. And I appreciate that reminder.
5. So. Many. Famous. People.
I meant to count how many famous people show up throughout the book, but I lost track. Poehler admits and jokes about her name dropping throughout the book, but man, she's earned it. She seems to know EVERYONE. I guess that's partly from being on SNL for so long. Anyway, if you like reading about famous people, then you probably loved this book. :)
So, what did you all think? Loved it? Thought it was "just OK?" Lost the cord to charge your kindle halfway through? What—what happened, what did you think? xo. Emma
Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman.
Love love LOVED the book!! I opted for the audiobook, and was totally engrossed from beginning to end. Several guest readers, too.
Until your post I had never stopped to consider whether I would’ve liked the book any less had I been reading it. Hmm..
While I enjoyed reading the book, I actually feel like I like Amy Poehler a little less since I read it.
In my opinion – the book itself had highs and lows; parts I loved and parts I will skim over if I pick it up again. It felt quite half-hearted. She made no secret of often saying how hard it was to write a book and basically, how she didn’t even want to do it. There were some wonderful passages and pieces – including my favourite, “Good for her, not for me” and the pieces about how divorce is like “throwing a blanket up in the air”, and how “every mother needs a wife”. The rest of the book was a bit bland and disjointed. Personally, I would have loved to hear more about her life. The book relied heavily… HEAVILY… on recalling episodes of SNL, her career in improv, and very heavy-handed (and at times, unnecessary) sprinkle of name dropping. While mentioning her start in improv was fairly essential to an accurate biography, I’d estimate it accounted for at least 30% of the book, and I grew quite bored with it.
There were two points where my opinion on Poehler soured a bit. The first was her story about the Hurricane Mary apology. While I think it took guts to share the story and admit fault, her apology was rather half-assed and basically just blamed the SNL writers and continued to brush it off as “not her fault”. It seems like she just extended the apology because Spike Jonze (name dropping…) made her feel guilty, and she included it in her book as some attempt at garnering head-pats. Additionally, it could have done without the reply from Anastasia – it only made Poehler look self-congratulatory. The second point was when she took out a lengthy tirade regarding the script a man dropped in her lap on the subway, and how she has no desire to help people who don’t work hard. I felt this was very unnecessary, condescending, and totally out of place. Although I do agree that it’s not appropriate to peddle scripts onto celebrities and expect instant fame to quickly follow, Poehler has absolutely no right to judge this man’s ambitions, goals, and whether or not he “has been working hard enough” to get where he wants to go. Especially considering Poehler ended up making it big via her own connections… isn’t this how most people crack into the industry? Word of mouth? Connections? A chance? He was a complete stranger, but she instantly deemed him talentless and worthless and she didn’t even crack open the pages. The most ironic part is that she freely judged this man for trying to “get a connection” to get a step closer to achieving a dream, and here she is, writing a book out of spite when she didn’t even want to, but was given the opportunity because of status, connections, etc. – some would say she is a “undeserving” author, but I guess it’s acceptable because she’s famous now, and not a lowly subway dweller? It seems like she has grown a little too far from her roots and is quick to forget where she came from, and all the people who helped her along the way.
I wasn’t a big fan of this book, though I do agree there are some redeeming qualities. Comedy is such a personal preference type of thing, and I appreciate Poehler’s ability to bring funny and painful life experiences togther in one book. Still, I would recommend _Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me_ by Mindy Kaling over _Yes Please_. Kaling is a great writer and had me cracking up with this book.
Just found this blog and ran out and got the January book club selection from the library right away! Thanks for creating a place to discuss books among internet friends. =)
I was able to listen to the audio version and I loved it. The parts on the difficulty of writing a book came across more as a running joke than a whining discord. There were so many people in the audio book that made it seem like a party. I’ve listened to a lot of audio books and this was the most creatively put together.
One of my favorite sections was “Treat your job like a bad boyfriend”. I love hearing from successful people on how they do what they do and the tips they can pass one. It was the most inspiring and helpful.
I’m really glad I read it.
i’ve been on an audiobook kick, so maybe i’ll try this one next! i think you are right, it’s easier to listen to books by comedians than to read them sometimes!
I LOVED this book! Not as laugh-out-loud funny as Tina Fey’s or Mindy Kaling’s, but it was so good and I think Amy Poehler came off as the wise, funny aunt you always wanted.
This is completely random, but my favorite part/part that really made me laugh was when she talked about her little brother Greg waking her up on Christmas morning when they were kids and she said, “Let’s go wake up Greg and see what Santa brought us,” and he gets all scared and wide-eyed and says, “I AM Greg!” And now her family uses that line whenever they are going through an existential crisis. Is it just me that thought that was hilarious??
I’m a little late to this party, but had to chime in anyway! I blazed through this book in like 36 hours. It was a fast read and wow, nothing makes me feel more accomplished in life than finishing a book so quickly. Thanks, Amy.
I loved the book. It’s just as quotable as Bossypants, and I highlighted/dogeared quite a bit. Probably my favorite parts were about her too-late apology to Marianne Cooper (all that transparency! Wow!) and then ALL the behind-the-scenes SNL stuff. I could read a book just about all of that. I started watching SNL at a really young age (thanks to my grandmother) and was familiar with everyone she was talking about.
Least favorite part: the Parks and Recreation spoilers! Ugh. I recently just started watching and am just now on season 3, so needless to say, accidentally reading some major plot points (that I was honestly trying to skim over!) was a major bummer. Sigh.
Would I read again? Yes please.
Okay, I am gonna give this book another shot. I am about 37% through (so says my Kindle) and I’m feeling rather “meh” about it. I didn’t expect SO MANY ANECDOTES of her life in improv and how she got to where she is (felt a tad braggy at points). Granted, I figured there would be SOME of that in here, but with a nice balance of inspiration, punctuated by her signature sense of humor. Not really feelin’ that so far. I was almost resigned to giving up on this, but I’ll power through and give it a fair shot, since it appears as though things perk up (haven’t hit the Haiti chapter yet, for example).
Maybe the problem is that I read this right after #GIRLBOSS which just kicks so much female CEO @$$ I can’t even stand it. 🙂
After reading some of the other comments, I’m relieved that I’m not the only one who was disappointed by the book. I had been hearing so many great things about it, plus *It’s Amy Poehler!* but the book felt really clinical to me, and I definitely felt like she was holding back a lot. It was like getting a peek into someone’s life, but only on an acquaintance level. I think I expected it to go deeper than it did. I also felt like there was really excessive name dropping, though that may not be entirely fair to comment on because she made friends with so many other celebrities through her own rise to fame, so most of them still felt important to the story. Overall, it felt like the longest “Thank You” speech I’ve ever listened to in most places, and not as comical as I had expected from one of the funniest and most powerful females around. I agree with the others who said this may not have been the best time for her to write a book, but I certaily applaud her effort and the messages that she did manage to get through. There were a heaping handful of really poignant pieces of advice, I just felt like I had to read through pages and pages of slightly dry and half-hearted material to get to them. I would still definitely give a second book a shot!
I feel so much better now! As an AP fan I felt so guilty that I didn’t enjoy the book. I mean, I finished it but felt like it was just “meh”. Glad I’m not alone. 🙂
I’m currently listening to the audiobook, which is fantastic!
I find I am overly critical of writing styles when I READ a book, so when I’ve got a book I’m interested in, when I think the writing may be unexceptional, I listen to it instead.
I did the same thing with Amanda Palmer’s book, The Art of Asking, which was fantastic and should probably be listed as a book club read.
I LOVED it! And I was definitely relieved. Bc Lena Dunham’s book (in my opinion) was awful and so disappointing and painful to read. Yet, Amy’s was great. And you’re right, the way she mentioned her ex husband was so darn classy, it totally blew me away. What an amazing woman. And when she talked about that awful sketch that she didn’t mean to do and how she felt guilty and scared for YEARS trying to apologize, I could totally relate.
I felt like I got to know her without her saying “this is who I am and a detailed account of the days up till now” because each story was an account to her character. That was very sly and interesting of her.
I need to go and look up the sketches!
It was an excellent book.
I totally cheated and listened to the audio book. But so glad I did!!
Amy is hilarious and I loved hearing her voice joke around… and the famous people/guest writers participated in the audio book as well!!! Worth a listen.
Two things I loved:
Finding out that I am not alone in my adoration/obsession with tiny fake food! Amy and Rashida Jones love it, too.
She thanked Dolly Parton – just because it’s DOLLY PARTON.
Those two tiny details made me feel less alone, more connected, and reassured. Dammit, I’m not a weirdo and in fact I am awesome. BLAMMO, HATERS!
I completely agree with you. It felt so disjointed and uninspired. I expected it to be funny and/or insightful – I was disappointed on both accounts.
I thought this book was really great! I kept taking pictures on my phone of the passages I liked best. A lot of what she said about working towards your goals and what you want really spoke to me.
Also I really liked her description of her relationship with her sons which was really sweet. It was like a bookend to her description of her parents. It seemed like she had a really great childhood with caring parents so it was awesome to see her carrying that on with her own kids.
The part about Parks and Rec and how she is really friends with all those people in real life, especially Rashida, was the best. I loved that chapter. Perhaps because I really love the show.
And ending with her trip to Haiti was an interesting touch that really makes you grateful for what you have in life.
I also expected there to be more stories of her friendship with Tina, but there really wasn’t, which disappointed me a bit.
I really liked it! I’ll admitt I haven’t seen much of her work – besides Mean Girls but I had heard great reviews and was keen to give it a read and I am so glad I gave it a chance!!
I’m glad I listened to the audio book as well, because even listening to the whining about how hard it is to a write a book was annoying, and if I had been reading it, I might have stopped there.
And that would have been my loss, because there was much that was so good, and that chapter, Sorry, Sorry, Sorry, was one of the best things I read this year.
Also loved hearing her parents’ voices reading their advice.
I also loved her perspective on your career as a bad boyfriend, but your creativity being a life line. Two months in a row I just happened to read the same book as ABM—and have really enjoyed seeing other perspectives there.
I actually purchased this book as an audiobook and “read” it that way. Completely worth it! If you thought the book was funny, wait until you hear AP read them to you herself. Hilarious. (especially the part with the “demon” voice)
I really liked the part about practicing ambivalence towards your career. As women, we are constantly told to go after what we want and to push push push until we have the 6 figure salary and huge house. AP talks about not putting your career first and just focus on doing what you love and loving where you are in life. Very refreshing.
Great choice for the book club.