“It’s very hard to have ideas. It’s very hard to put yourself out there, it’s very hard to be vulnerable, but those people who do that are the dreamer“It’s very hard to have ideas. It’s very hard to put yourself out there, it’s very hard to be vulnerable, but those people who do that are the dreamers, the thinkers and the creators. They are the magic people of the world.”
As I was walking and listening to Amy Poehler's "Yes Please" on the track at my gym, I was struck with many talking points. However, since I was in motion, and since last time I checked you can't underline an audio book, I'm going to try to remember just a few of them here for my future self who likes to read back over book reviews. (When reflecting back on a book these days I can not only remember nothing about it, I can't even remember if I've read it. Boo middle-aged, diet-coke fueled brain.)
First of all I enjoyed this book. I felt that listening to a memoir on audio, READ BY THE AUTHOR, was so much more compelling than listening to a novel on audio. When I'm listening to fiction my mind definitely wanders. And if I'm in a car, I find myself falling asleep...waking up only when someone is kissing or getting murdered, and then I have to rewind (not easy on your phone--you always end up going back farther than you wanted to) and figure out the set-up to said kissing or killing. And then it takes me nine years to finish a book.
Of course I enjoyed the guest readers. Who with a sense of humor wouldn't enjoy the sound of (and recognize the genius of) Mike Myer's voice. What women over 40 who loves to laugh can't cite Carol Burnett as a comic hero. Amy's parents--adorable. Kathleen Turner? A bit misplaced. I didn't get it. (Was it even her, or was it Amy doing an impersonation? Too much confusion when I'm supposed to be laughing).
I hung onto every word about SNL and the Golden Globes, as I am a bona fide life-long junkie-watcher of each. Amy was very kind when she spoke of guest hosts at SNL. No juicy gossip here. Only tidbits that endear you to each host. I love the stories about Amy kissing Bono or sitting on Clooney's lap at the Globes (I remember each of these bits and thinking that Amy was killing it at the time). I was inspired to re-watch some SNL sketches during the reading of this book--particularly Amy's classic Sarah Palin rap and perhaps the funniest SNL sketch of all-time...Debbie Downer at Disneyworld where everyone involved completely loses it and can barely get their lines out (Amy calls it Prozac and should be prescribed to the depressed). Say it with me now..."It's official...I can't have children."
Several brief things that I whole-heartedly admire about Amy.
1. She was totally devoted to her craft (improv) and went after it with blind abandon--waiting tables, co-sharing apartments, writing and working night and day, fore-going health insurance or a clear future for the sole purpose of "getting good at improv." That is a true artist, and I believe that level of commitment to art is rare (particularly among graduates of Boston College, I might add).
2. Amy is brave and ambitious. There is not much Amy would not do or say on stage to get a laugh. While some people are driven by dollar signs, big houses, or fancy cars, I truly believe Amy is driven by the sound of audience laughter, and for this she will fore-go vanity and instantly overcome any level of self-consciousness.
3. Amy has a ton of friends. Not virtual Facebook or Instragram friends. People that she could call or text or take a walk around New York City with or vacation with at any time. Funny people. And smart people. And for this I am enviable of Amy.
So why the four stars? I was a little off-put by some of Amy's advice. I acknowledge that she is an entirely self-made women who has found great financial success. And a ton of what she said about kindness and women getting older and creativity I can appreciate. However, I did feel that as my life path was so different than hers, some of the advice was not necessarily applicable to my life. And while Amy is funny and brave and smart and fashionable and weathly, she's not exactly my go-to person when I am seeking out the kind of wisdom that I seek out for guidance.
There's a lot to like about Yes, Please. It's not perfect. But it's funny. It's current, and for this genre, I believe it's a stand-out. Warning: there is some off-color language. And a good bit of talk about drug use. This is more risque than Bossypants, so if you enjoyed that, you're not necessarily going to automatically enjoy this as well. But it kept my attention and made me laugh out loud several times on the track, which elicited amusing frightened reactions from my track-mates (who tend to be sweet older people--I walk during the day). If Amy and I were friends, we would group-text about that and laugh....more
“It occurred to Clark that he should call someone, actually everyone, that he should call everyone he’d ever loved and talk to them and tell them all“It occurred to Clark that he should call someone, actually everyone, that he should call everyone he’d ever loved and talk to them and tell them all the things that mattered, but it was apparently already too late for this, his phone displaying a message he’d never seen before: SYSTEM OVERLOAD EMERGENCY CALLS ONLY.”
My husband: Have you really been sitting in that same spot for three hours reading that book? Me: It's been longer than that.
Station Eleven is the rapidly-engaging story of the collapse of society after a deadly virus strikes the planet. The virus has a very short incubation period, and those affected (just about everyone) are dead within 3-4 hours of exposure.
There's certainly nothing original about the premise. We've all read end of times scenarios--especially in recent years. However the almost-end of civilization is not the sole focus here. This novel, which opens and closes with a performance of King Lear, is a study of a group of characters and how their paths intersect before, after, and during their lives and deaths. It jumps back and forth through time to tell the overlapping stories of these main characters.
Station Eleven is beautifully written and poetic. Within the main story lies a comic book story--the saga of Dr. Eleven, a physicist who lives on a space station after escaping aliens have taken over Earth--so there's a bit of an underlying sci-fi vibe. Themes are of art, friendship, relationships, parenthood, fame, and survivalism.
I might add that Station Eleven is very mild in terms of language, violence, sex, drugs, and alcohol...all that stuff that seem to be very hard-core when one is reading a novel that is meant to be "bleak", (or post-apocalyptic). I believe this novel would be suitable for my 13 year old daughters to read. The violence is the worst of its offenses, but again, it is mild comparatively for this genre....more
“Blind luck, to arrive in the world with your properly formed parts in the right place, to be born to parents who were loving, not cruel, or to escape“Blind luck, to arrive in the world with your properly formed parts in the right place, to be born to parents who were loving, not cruel, or to escape, by geographical or social accident, war or poverty. And therefore to find it so much easier to be virtuous.”
There are a lot of wonderful synopses about this book found very easily, so I will not recap the plot here. It's very current in it's themes, and very brilliantly laid out.
I enjoyed this book because the writing is brilliant. Choose any one sentence, and it's a work of art, a small poem within a paragraph. Not only are the words giftedly strung together (I see giftedly is not a word. Or wasn't a word til I just created it), but the story itself seems so real and so interesting. It's short--it feels more like a novella--but it packs an honest punch. Ian McEwan is a master. I would recommend this to anyone....more
"Today's choices become tommorrow's circumstances."
I went through this book with a group of my mom friends. When I first heard the chosen selection, I"Today's choices become tommorrow's circumstances."
I went through this book with a group of my mom friends. When I first heard the chosen selection, I was a little leery. I didn't feel like I needed an entire book to counsel me about saying no to requests to avoid becoming physically and emotionally overloaded. I felt like by the age of 41, I had really gotten pretty adept at that.
There's a lot more to this book than the title suggests. This book is about wisdom--the kind of wisdom we need to help make all kinds of decisions. If offers up help to cure the "disease to please" and attempts to free us up to do our best at the responsibilities that were meant for us, as every responsibility is not our responsibility.
Lysa T. is a mother of five, an author of several books, and the founder of Proverbs 31 ministries. (Proverbs 31:10-31. "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies....") She writes with a divine wisdom that was surprising to me, and her themes are contemporary and up-to-the-minute in their guidance. I enjoyed this book, and in January we will start to read "Unglued" by the same author.
“We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, at“We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as a microscopic electrical swarm. The lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us.”
I cannot say enough about this beautiful book. It looks daunting in length, but is read rather quickly because each chapter is 1-3 pages. I heard they were called "vignettes"--just a little word on what is happening at the time, beautifully descriptive and composed like a poem, rather than a long, sprawled, unedited, overly-detailed account of events (you know who I'm talking to).
This is a book that will stay with the reader long after. The subject matter is dark and disturbing (war, mass executions), but the characters are innocents, yet full of the grit that it takes to overcome circumstances (my favorite kind of character). You aren't left feeling hopeless for humanity, but rather full of the feeling that despite the darkness and senselessness time and existence can spew forth, there are small rays of light, and that there is power, inspiration, and beauty within them....more
It’s because a woman’s entire self-worth rests on her looks,” said Jane. “That’s why. It’s because we live in a beauty-obsessed society where the mostIt’s because a woman’s entire self-worth rests on her looks,” said Jane. “That’s why. It’s because we live in a beauty-obsessed society where the most important thing a woman can do is make herself attractive to men.”
Among other things, Big Little Lies is about playground politics. It's about the way kids interact, and the way their parents interact.
There are three main female characters. Madeline, a married just-turned-40 mother of three. Her story involves how she relates to her 14 year old daughter and to her ex-husband and his new wife. Madeline is funny in a wickedly snarky way, and is not afraid to confront conflict head-on.
Celeste is a beautiful, married mother of twin boys. She comes off as emotionally conflicted despite having a Facebook-perfect family.
Jane is young and a single mom. She is new to the school and is raising her son Ziggy by herself. Her story begins on their first days of school and is of how she makes friends and enemies.
Themes include bullying, violence, beauty, friendship, blended families, how women treat each other, how women see themselves, adultery, and other hard-hitters. The main theme concerns the lies we tell ourselves to get by--the little ones, and of course the big ugly ones.
I read Big Little Lies in about 24 hours. The plot is gripping, suspenseful, and includes a couple of perfectly crafted mysteries. It's extremely addictive, and I couldn't wait to get to the end--which did not disappoint....more