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January 28, 2016

Review: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Title: Yes Please
Author: Amy Poehler
Publisher: Dey St
Publication Date: Oct 28, 2014
Genre: Non-fiction, memoir
Source: Bought
Pages: 329

In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book,Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by.

I’m going to forgo all coherency and just straight up say I loved this book. I loved it and I even as I type this, I want to go back and lose myself in the warmth and honesty and friendliness and confidence of this book.

I want to preface this by saying two things.

Parks and Recreation (Parks and Rec from now) is my favourite TV show. Lots of others have come close (Veronica Mars, Gilmore Girls, Miss Fisher's), but P&R is top. Leslie Knope is the closet television will ever come to portraying my personality. The show encompasses everything I love: humour, hard work, honesty, earnestness, friendship, goofing off and taking risks. So I guess I love Amy Poehler by proxy. But Parks and Rec and watching occasional clips of her time hosting the Golden Globe awards is all I’ve ever seen of her.

I’m also deeply suspicious of movie stars. Even Amy. I enjoy pop culture and binging television shows, but secretly, I’ve always dismissed Hollywood people as people who have trillions of dollars and who don’t have to worry about college tuition and looking pretty whose troubles are managed by assistants who also bring them coffee just how they like it. On some level, I’ve thought of them as unreal people who exist on my TV screen. On some level, I’ve always scoffed at them. They’ve always been people who will never get it. Get what? You know, IT.

(she said vaguely)

So when I started reading this, I was prepared for
  1. a lot of stories about show biz
  2. some sassy inappropriate humour
  3. inside stories about Parks and Rec. 
Certainly not a voice I could’t get enough of. Certainly not a person I could sympathize with. Certainly not advice that has been profound and funny and real all at one.

I did get all those three things, by the way. I picked up some show biz terminology and got a little peek into how movies and TV shows work. I got my sassy humour. If there’s one thing the book is, it’s funny. Not the laugh-out-loud-till-you-cry kind, the kind that makes you feel empowered and happy and warm and confident on the inside. I also got lots of inside stories about Parks and Rec! There were two whole chapters dedicated to them, to my immense delight, annotated by Mike Schur (who created the series), and I read them twice. (The book contains major spoilers for Parks and Rec, so you might want to watch the entire show before you read it.)

I also loved how she owned up to a lot of mistakes that she made— a disrespectful SNL sketch, texts sent to the wrong person, not speaking up when she meant to, drinking and driving— and spoke very candidly about why she did them and how she dealt with them. Everyone makes mistakes, and I don’t know how many more she wanted to include but her editors wouldn’t let her, or how many she wanted to include but she couldn’t bear to, or how many she decided not to include. But she talked about these, and I’m grateful for the ones that she did share.

She also talks about the feelings and experiences none of us want to admit we have, confidently. unapologetically. She was and is her own boss, and her surety in herself is something I've aspired to for years. Here are my favourite chapters.

plain girl vs demon: her exploration of why and how and should looks matter. I love it because the way she deals with low self esteem is exactly the way I deal with it, except she just explains it better and manages to sound cool and funny while doing it.

every mother needs a wife: I love, love, love this chapter. Poehler talks about kids and careers and should/can they be balanced? The phrase “women-on-women crime” is used more than once, and it’s my favourite new phrase to use.

treat your career like a bad boyfriend: If I’d make anyone read a chapter, it would be this chapter. She talks about success and failures in career and how we can deal with it and stay mentally and physically healthy. The advice in this book is good, solid, and incredibly precious to me, and it’s advice I want to follow.

things they don’t tell you about the biz: an exploration of the various roles people take on to make a movie or TV show successful. I enjoyed this short chapter very much because I’ve always wanted to contrast the positions of actor, writer, director, and producer and understand who did what.

This book isn’t the “real Amy Poehler”, nor does it pretend to be. There is a haiku on plastic surgery, a comical list of alternates for Leslie Knope (that I want a poster of tbh), a portfolio of her cast mates at P&R, and a story about a lost laptop. There are sad chapters and funny chapters and happy chapters. It’s a collection of anecdotes and some advice and details about the interesting experiences that she had, and I absolutely loved it. I highly recommend it for a light, interesting read.

3 comments:

  1. I love your review! Parks&rec is my favourite show as well, so I was really excited to buy this book. I keep not wanting to start it because non-fiction isn't really my thing, and I was scared that it would disappoint me in some way, but now I feel like running to my room, grabbing it and starting it right away. Thank you.
    Laura - http://bbliophile.blogspot.nl/

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    1. Me too! I wasn't sure that Amy would live up to Leslie but this book was simply delightful. It oozed confidence, even when she talked about her weaknesses and insecurities. Hope you enjoy it!

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  2. eeeeep!!! I'm SO excited to read this. My bestie got it for me for Christmas in 2014 and I NEED to take a chunk of time to read it. Because I know I'm going to love it. Thanks for the review and for reminding me of how badly I need it in my life! <3

    Sierra @ Yearning to Read
    http://yearningtoread.sierraabrams.com/

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