Yes Please


Cover image source: Entertainment Weekly

I loved Amy Poehler’s memoir, Yes Please.

I’ve always enjoyed Ms. Poehler’s (Amy’s? I’m going to call her Amy; what the heck) acting and her interviews, so I was probably inclined to like her book, as well. But I didn’t necessarily expect to find so much value in it. As insightful and (sometimes painfully) honest as it is funny, to me her book is sort of a humorous manual for living.

It’s true that she and I are contemporaries (full disclosure: I’m 3.5 years older). While I have never been an improv comic, a national TV and movie star, a mom, or a bestselling writer, I am intimately acquainted with growing up in suburbia in the 1970s and, more recently, navigating the 21st century and adulthood with varying degrees of bemusement and accomplishment.

That said, I think most people will find plenty to relate to in the pages of Yes Please. I especially enjoyed some of her observations about writing:

The truth is, writing is this: hard and boring and occasionally great but usually not. Even I have lied about writing. I have told people that writing this book has been like brushing away dirt from a fossil. What a load of shit. It has been like hacking away at a freezer with a screwdriver. I wrote this book after my kids went to sleep. I wrote this book on subways and on airplanes and in between setups while I shot a television show. I wrote this book from scribbled thoughts I kept in the Notes app on my iPhone and conversations I had with myself in my own head before I went to sleep. I wrote it ugly and in pieces….

Honestly, I have moments when I don’t even care if anyone reads this book. I just want to finish it.

I can’t say enough about the entire preface (which is titled writing is hard: a preface). It is seriously, hilariously brutal. It makes writing seem like the worst idea ever and also more important than you thought… maybe even necessary for survival.

The entire book is well worth your time, but I daresay the preface is elevated to must-read status for anyone who wants to write or has ever thought about writing or who happens to own a pen.

Entertainment Weekly recently shared the ten lines from the book that Kindle users highlighted most often. Here are just a couple:

  • “Sticking up for ourselves in the same way we would one of our friends is a hard but satisfying thing to do. Sometimes it works.”
  • “Wordsworth also said that the best part of a person’s life is ‘his little, nameless, unremembered, acts of kindness and of love.’”

The ten tidbits in EW’s list only scratch the surface of the book’s many lovely little gems. Have you read it? If so, what was your favorite part? If not, what are you waiting for?