Bitches Book Club Review: Yes, Please!

The Book Club:

“At the end of May I was feeling sort of “meh” about the Goodreads book clubs I’m part of. No offence meant to them at all! I like them. But they’re just so BIG that the books I’m particularly interested in don’t often (read: ever?) get picked and there doesn’t feel like there’s enough incentive to take part sometimes. I wanted something that was smaller so, even if I’m not super jazzed about every single book, I feel motivated to read each one because I knew the other member(s) of the book club are reading too and because of the discussion that will ensue.

SO, of course, I voice messaged Claire about it and we decided on a book within the hour!

How it works is that one of us will pick the book one month and the other will pick the book for the next month.”

This month was Claire’s choice: Yes Please by Amy Poehler.

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yes please

Book: Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Publisher: Picador., 2014
Genre: Comedy Memoir/Essays/Advice

Summary: 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.
More Information: GoodReads

Claire’s Thoughts & Rating:

So, we get to this, at last. I read this during my last week of work and there were many times when I read it that I almost started crying. OK, before I jump the gun let me break down what I liked and didn’t like more generally.

On the plus side of things, I think Poehler is a pretty good writer and I found that the text flowed quite well. I will admit that I most enjoyed the chapters that talked about Parks and Recreation as well as her opinions on things the most. I most loved her opinion on feminism, or just being a modern woman in generally. I see a lot of myself in her, in that I love working and having a job that you love is like a major avenue of happiness for her as well (or am I seeing myself in Leslie Knope? I do love waffles too…).

What I didn’t like? I didn’t have much interest in hearing about her childhood or the general stuff or the tracing of her career. I don’t watch SNL so quite a few of those references blew right over me (if you watch SNL or know of her background it might be a bit more fun for you then). She also talks a lot about hard work and the age old mantra of work hard and you’ll get your due. Err, there are way too many barriers for people for that to be generally true (I’m mostly talking about intersectional issues with this, such as race and class, as well as gender which she mostly touched on).

I will say that it was quite touching to read about her strongest friendships. By the end of the book I felt very Girl Power without it being militant (can I say that?). It was also inspiring to read of struggle and see someone manage to overcome it. Yes, she had a number of resources and a massive support system but she did struggle in her own individual way and every triumph, no matter how small, is a triumph to be celebrated. In general, this book came at a very fragile time for me and it made me smile and gave me a smudge of hope.

Let’s be clear, I am not a celebrity person. Some people have celebrities they admire/like/love/adore/fan/ship but I generally do not. So to be very detailed, I like Amy Poehler, I don’t love her. I do love Leslie Knope but I generally tend to love fictional characters more than real people. Other celebrities that I like? Mindy Kaling has to be one and I’m legit drawing up a blank for others. Yup, that’s it. Oh I do like Chris Pratt (but don’t like Andy Dwyer tons… don’t hate me). I see that I’m getting off on a tangent here and you’ve still got Nikki’s lovely and prodigious review to read as well 😉

Rating: ★★★★☆

Claire’s favourite line(s):

“I think we should stop asking people in their twenties what they “want to do” and start asking them what they don’t want to do.”

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Nikki’s Thoughts & Rating:

Let me just get this out of the way now: it bothers me there is no comma between “Yes” and “Please”. Let me also say, I seem to have a surprising amount to say. Much more than I ever expected when I finished the book the other day.

When I read the prologue/introduction thing, I was super into it right away! I immediately wanted Amy to tell me about all the things while being funny. But then I found it hard to find my bearings with the book for a while. I didn’t dislike it, but I was largely indifferent.

Let’s continue with some ‘disclaimers’/’words of warning’ (warning sounds so harsh…) before we go to all the positives. I had heard criticism that the book isn’t ‘personal’ enough and that she doesn’t dig deeply into her personal experiences enough, but I reject this. It was, for me, a little flat at first because everything felt just a little disparate . Yes, it felt like some more depth may have helped ground it more but I think, most of all, there was a lot of namedropping and random comedy terms that I could guess at, but didn’t necessarily know exactly what they meant. It felt like I was missing out on a party that comedy enthusiasts would shake their heads at me not being able to enjoy. For example, it took me a paragraph to realise what she meant when she just randomly started talking about “bits” (as in a little comedy “bit”…like a gag kind of). Not because I don’t know the term, but because I don’t live and breathe it. When someone talks about “bits”, comedy gags do not first spring to mind (despite my reading a comedy memoir…). Cookie crumbs do. We’re clearly starting off on different feet. SO I felt that some of this could at times feel slightly esoteric. Not largely, mind you! But enough to make the emersion into the world a little stilted or uneven.

Then there was the second part of the book (roughly the last two thirds) which I adored. I laughed out loud more than once and I love how real she is. The stories she shares makes me discount all criticism that she doesn’t go deeply enough or share enough. To anyone annoyed she didn’t share enough scathing details about her childhood/divorce/friends/whatever, I completely agree with her when she says that you don’t have to tell anyone anything that you don’t want to. There is power in that. She doesn’t owe you that. Furthermore, I think she actually does share a fair bit.

For a while I was feeling a bit…lost is not quite the word…maybe stranded in the sea of comedy enthusiast references like I said. I wanted to know more about the Amy before all the light comedy gigs that built up to lead into her career. I wanted to know about the non-comedy related jobs she had to do before she started making progress in her career. Part of me wanted her to admit that they existed and that was it. No big in depth rant about it.

And, happily, that is what I got. I was suddenly super invest. Yes! Amy Poehler is a real person and she is talking about the stuff! These moments felt very real and relatable and, despite being devoid of any private details of any kind, intimate. It felt like sharing a vulnerability that no one wants to admit to.

I also love to hear her talk about Parks & Recreation! OH, HOW I LOVE IT! I could read a whole book of Amy Poehler talking about Parks & Recreation. However, I totally did not appreciate the major spoilers. Thanks a lot, Amy! Sheesh. I’m only up to season 4 in Parks & Rec and I had a mini crisis of whether to finish the book right then in time for our Bitchin’ Book Club review or whether to try to marathon some seasons, thus shortening my journey with Parks & Rec (no thanks!), before going back to read the rest in time for our book club….Or skip the Parks & Rec chapters… In the end I spoiled myself and read it all. siiiigh.

The added notes from Mark Shur (the creator of Parks & Recreation) which were dotted throughout that chapter made the reading experience even more fun; like sitting in on funny behind the scenes banter.

I also really loved her bit about the different roles in Hollywood. It was simple but funny and makes you appreciate the importance of teamwork in a general sense. (At least it did for me.)

Strangely (to me who has no interest in having kids), for the most part I liked the way Amy talks about her kids and motherhood. Right off the bat she emphasises the importance of realising what choices are for you and which aren’t and appreciating that and letting that be okay for everyone else too. Not every woman needs to want kids. You’re not incomplete if you don’t have them. But she wanted that life. No judgement. That said, the gushy stuff about her kids nearing the end did get a liiiittle much, but it’s not too bad.

Another thing I noticed, but would not count as a negative (just an observation that some might want to be aware of), Amy has some privileges (which she acknowledges!) that make some things she says seem…well…privileged. I don’t have a problem with this personally because she admits it right at the start of the book. She can’t help that. She is what she is. She can’t go back and change that. But more than that, she tries to be considerate of it (when she realises). I don’t think she should be judged harshly for this. But it was interesting to note how she saw certain things because of it. The chapter when she goes to Haiti is especially interesting regarding this and she is still endearing. She knows there is a lot she is not exposed to still. She knows it’s not some grand act of insightfulness on her part to realise her own privilege. And she deals with all the feelings even if it’s sometimes uncomfortable or painful or devastating.

Amy Poehler really is one of those people who I think would be a really fun and supportive and loving friend. She is compassionate and funny. Early on I thought maybe I would conclude that it was ‘OK’, but I came away feeling happy and with some great little snippets of advice (summed up in each of her chapter headings) such as “NOTHING is anyone’s business” and “Nobody looks stupid when they’re having FUN” and “If it’s not funny, you don’t have to laugh”. Simple and apparently obvious, but it’s easy to forget.

  • N.B.: I feel like I’m on a first-name-basis with Ames.

I recommend this book for: comedy enthusiasts, fans of Parks & Recreation/Amy Poehler/SNL, fans of comedy memoirs

rating: ★★★★☆

Nikki’s Favourite Line:

There are so many great lines, but I’m going to go with:

“I do a weird thing when I am nervous where I tilt my head back like I am super confident. This is my attempt to fake it until I make it, or at the very least make it easier for someone to slit my throat.”

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Have you read this book yet?

If you have, what did you think? If you haven’t, do you want to?

September’s Book Club choice is Nikki’s and she chose…

the icarus girl

I’ve heard that Helen Oyeyemi is a talented writer of magic realism and she received much praise and attention after writing The Icarus Girl when she was only 21 and still in university.

Feel free to read along with us! 🙂

NameNikkixClaire

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4 Responses to Bitches Book Club Review: Yes, Please!

  1. Pingback: 2015 Reads | Bitches With Books

  2. Pingback: 2015 Reading Challenges: Quarterly Check-In, November (Claire) | Bitches With Books

  3. Pingback: Claire x Nikki Review October 2015 | Bitches With Books

  4. Pingback: Something Borrowed + Something New: September 2015 | Bitches With Books

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