Thursday, June 18, 2015

Nonfiction | Hodgepodged Humor from a Comedy Queen

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Category: An audiobook

The Read Harder challenge I am undertaking (ha, remember that? Back in February??) lists an audiobook as one of its categories. Frankly, I'm not really an audiobook fan. The couple that I've listened to have just bored me stiff; I keep thinking, "I could be reading this myself WAY faster," and I generally end up falling asleep. I know, I know... It just means I'm not the greatest listener, and I fully admit that. It requires practice, and I'll work on that.

For this challenge, though, I figured that I'd better at least choose an audiobook with an interesting narrator (because I know that can make or break it), so Amy Poehler's Yes Please, narrated by the author herself, seemed like the perfect choice.

Yes Please is diverse little book. It's sort of like a memoir, mixed with some grand advice, peppered with humorous lists, and with a few guest authors (and narrators) thrown in. She covers her first forays into acting and improv, details how to apologize from your heart instead of your ego, chronicles the drastic changes parenthood brings to life (including an especially funny letter about a birth plan), recollects favorite career moments, and offers sound advice for aging—among other things. Of course, because it's Poehler, it's all generally told with a sense of humor, but it never feels like it was written just to be funny. It's a little bit all over the place, so it's hard, ultimately, to see what exactly its purpose is. It's like she was presented with the opportunity to write to a mass audience...and this book is the hodgepodge result of all the things she wanted to say. Is it comedy? Is it a memoir? Is it self-help? Does it matter?

I'm still up in the air as to whether the audiobook made my experience with this book better or worse. On the one hand, I love Poehler on the stage (err, screen). I love her as a performer, so there's a good chance that hearing her talk was going to entertain me. Plus, the smorgasbord format of this book also lent itself to a very casual narration that was really enhanced by special guests. On the other hand, I've shared how quickly memoirs are falling out of my favor...and at times I was a little bit squeamish just hearing the author talk about herself. But, there's a good chance that's just me and my extreme tendency towards self-effacement. [It hits that same nerve as watching a talent show; it just makes me so uncomfortable.]

The hard part of listening to an audiobook for me, a visual learner, is that I can't make the physical references to words on a page—and if there's a part I want to remember, it's much harder to make it stick because I don't know where to go back for a second look. [Interesting note, though: I listened to half of this while running, and I could remember where exactly on the trail I was at certain spots in the narration. Fascinating new kind of mental referencing.]

Anyway, here is the takeaway that I remembered to come back and find online because I thought it was a good nugget to keep.

Advice from the future 90-year-old Amy Poehler to her current self:

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