Humor · Memoir/Biography/Autobiography · Nonfiction

Yes Please

Well, after listening to Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) I realized that I liked audiobooks of this type – ones that are not necessarily a story with a plot, where I need to follow characters and developments (please note, I am so not an audio learner, I’m visual all the way), where there are insights and stories that can be broken up as necessary (which is what happens naturally, listening to books only while driving…), and [bonus] when read by the author themselves. It’s really cool to hear these actors/comedians reading things they wrote, about themselves, in their own voice – the extra dimension adds something. However, as this is only my second experience with audiobooks, I’m still learning about how best to listen. And I do find that I like grabbing the book afterwards and flipping through to find some of my favorites passages or refresh myself on certain parts, or just see what I missed as far as layout (which in this case was a lot).

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

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“Here are some of my thoughts on this audiobook (vs the written version and my one other audio experience to date):

– Amy Poehler’s reading voice was spot on. Her inflections were great and really helped set the atmosphere and the feel of her words. I feel like I originally thought this would be a given, but Mindy’s reading of her book was pretty monotone and I was less than impressed. Amy brought the intonation and I loved it.
– Her guest readers were a great way to break up the story. Seth Myers’ chapter was a fun perspective (though his intonation lacked a little too, I thought) and Mike Schur’s injections (when read by him, rather than as side-notes on a page) were fantastic. That chapter/section, in which Mike Schur was featured, was probably my favorite. This was not only due to him, but also the fact that the insights into the cast and filming and backstory for Parks and Rec were some of the most fun tidbits to to hear. It was really cool to hear her parents read certain parts, like their own advice to Amy, as well.
– The audiobook was way better for certain parts, like hearing the intro “song” to the UCB tv show (I know the book shows a screenshot from their opening credits, but hearing the whole thing was awesome). Similarly, the sections of script from Parks and Rec that are written out and printed in the book were actually played in the audio version, which was really cool as well. On the flip side, there were some pages of notes and letters and the section headers that were much better in print than in the audio version, no matter whose voice *cough Patrick Stewart* was reading them.
-I loved that the last chapter was read loud in front of UCB members/staff, etc. Their laughing and clapping throughout created an interactive experience that I enjoyed immensely.

As far as the content itself, I have some pretty mixed feelings. Amy’s discussion of her youth and growing up outside Boston, how she got into improv, and her early experiences in theater and moving up in that world…all insight was fascinating and I enjoyed listening to it. I also liked the starting sections about her giving birth (though I know a lot of people were less than impressed with that part) because I work in childbirth ed and all the different experiences women have is super interesting to me. Though starting there and then ending with her kids again – it was a lot about kids for someone who doesn’t have any. I liked that she told some stories where she doesn’t look quite as good – not everyone is perfect and it’s great to see her own up to that, talk about how hard it is to do the right thing sometimes, and her personal growth on that front (apologizing about offensive skits and getting over being upset at not winning awards, for example). I thought the background on the book’s title, and why she called it that, was great. And one of my favorite sections was her sex advice. Honestly, it was just spot on – to both men and women – and made me laugh out loud a couple times (stop being so goal oriented about sex, ladies don’t need it to last as long as men think, work on dirty talk, etc.).

On the other hand, it seemed like she sounded pretty self satisfied a lot, with a lot of extra name dropping and self congratulation than felt necessary – I mean, I get that, I totally would do that too if I were her, she’s awesome, but it just didn’t come across as well when this “normal” person read it. I wish there had been a little more about her Smart Girls campaign and how she started that and where it’s going. I’m a public health person, I can’t help it, I want to know. And lastly, she starts the book with a whole long thing about how writing is hard and she didn’t really want to write it. And then it doesn’t end there, she sprinkles it throughout the book a lot. I mean, I’m sure it’s hard, and I know she has to make a living, and I know she’s busy – it was just a lot of complaining over something that (as I was reading it) had already happened and made me feel guilty, like somehow my interest in reading this book was what “made” her write it in the first place. And I feel like she could have written it as a cathartic thing, but then not actually included it in the book, and that would have been fine. All in all, she did a good job adding in humor throughout, no matter what the section was actually about, but there as a lot more serious in this book. Her advice seemed more like she was trying to give real advice, instead of a more joking/low key attempt (like Mindy’s was), which came out a little supercilious at times.

I’m not sure what it was, but the overall feel to this book was not as appealing to me as maybe it could have been, though that’s vague and I don’t really have concrete feedback for how that could have been done (or if it was due in part to the way I “read” it), so that’s not something I can really blame her for. Maybe just, everything seemed reluctant after the introduction about her not wanting to write it, and that colored the whole thing. But I have to be honest, it was a very entertaining “listen” that was well worth my time and attention.”

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