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Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

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In this poignant, hilarious and deeply intimate call to arms, Hollywood's most powerful woman, the mega-talented creator of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder and Catch, reveals how saying YES changed her life -- and how it can change yours too. With three hit shows on television and three children at home, Shonda Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say no when invitations arrived. Hollywood party? No. Speaking engagement? No. Media appearances? No. And to an introvert like Shonda, who describes herself as 'hugging the walls' at social events and experiencing panic attacks before press interviews, there was a particular benefit to saying no: nothing new to fear. Then came Thanksgiving 2013, when Shonda's sister Delorse muttered six little words at her: You never say yes to anything. Profound, impassioned and laugh-out-loud funny, in Year of Yes Shonda Rhimes reveals how saying YES changed -- and saved -- her life. And inspires readers everywhere to change their own lives with one little word: Yes.

352 pages, Paperback

First published November 10, 2015

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About the author

Shonda Rhimes

15 books1,872 followers
In this poignant, hilarious, and deeply intimate call to arms, Hollywood’s most powerful woman, the mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder reveals how saying YES changed her life—and how it can change yours too.

She’s the creator and producer of some of the most groundbreaking and audacious shows on television today: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder. Her iconic characters—Meredith Grey, Cristina Yang, Olivia Pope, Annalise Keating—live boldly and speak their minds. So who would suspect that Shonda Rhimes, the mega talent who owns Thursday night television (#TGIT), is an introvert? That she hired a publicist so she could avoid public appearances? That she hugged walls at splashy parties and suffered panic attacks before media interviews so severe she remembered nothing afterward?

Before her Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes was an expert at declining invitations others would leap to accept. With three children at home and three hit television shows on TV, it was easy to say that she was simply too busy. But in truth, she was also afraid. Afraid of cocktail party faux pas like chucking a chicken bone across a room; petrified of live television appearances where Shonda Rhimes could trip and fall and bleed out right there in front of a live studio audience; terrified of the difficult conversations that came so easily to her characters on-screen. In the before, Shonda’s introvert life revolved around burying herself in work, snuggling her children, and comforting herself with food.

And then, on Thanksgiving 2013, Shonda’s sister muttered something that was both a wake up and a call to arms: You never say yes to anything.

The comment sat like a grenade, until it detonated. Then Shonda, the youngest of six children from a supremely competitive family, knew she had to embrace the challenge: for one year, she would say YES to everything that scared her.

This poignant, intimate, and hilarious memoir explores Shonda’s life before her Year of Yes—from her nerdy, book-loving childhood creating imaginary friends to her devotion to creating television characters who reflected the world she saw around her (like Cristina Yang, whose ultimate goal wasn’t marriage, and Cyrus Beene, who is a Republican and gay). And it chronicles her life after her Year of Yes had begun—when Shonda forced herself out of the house and onto the stage, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and giving the Dartmouth Commencement speech; when she learned to say yes to her health, yes to play and she stepped out of the shadows and into the sun; when she learned to explore, empower, applaud, and love her truest self. Yes.

This wildly candid and compulsively readable book reveals how the mega talented Shonda Rhimes, an unexpected introvert, achieved badassery worthy of a Shondaland character. And how you can, too.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,682 reviews
Profile Image for Shanley.
173 reviews16 followers
December 17, 2015
Ok so I know this review is more of a personal vendetta than an actual reflection of the book itself, but I had to stop reading 5 minutes in when she criticized the idea of being "a quiet librarian in Ohio." As an actual quiet librarian living in Ohio, all I have to say is: what's wrong with that?!
Profile Image for Darth J .
417 reviews1,247 followers
March 23, 2016
300 pages of Shonda rambling

Oh, how I wanted to like this. To think the book from the woman who owns Thursday night prime time could be so trivial is more shocking than most of the characters she kills off. I wanted to root for her like Tyra, but kept feeling like she was just meandering and bragging about things while rarely reaching a cohesive point.

The thing is that the book isn't boring, and her writing style seems much like her personality: quite pleasant. She just has such a roundabout way of explaining things that makes you forget what her original topic was. Then there are times where she seems unapologetic about some messed up stuff she's done to people. I'm talking life-ruining things she's done to people personally and she just waves it off like it's something small that she will "forgive [her]self for, one day".

There are also photos included in the book, and true to her bragging about her beautiful family, you can see that she's genetically blessed. I wish with all of her talking about how important her family is that she actually included more stories about them.

All in all, I have to give this 2 stars. It felt like sitting in an outdoor café and listening to her squawk about life: not unpleasant, but certainly long-winded and usually her stories don't go anywhere.
Profile Image for Terrie  Robinson.
377 reviews550 followers
June 23, 2021
"Year of Yes" by Shonda Rhimes is how 'YES' changed her life!

I watched Shonda Rhimes' Ted Talk about her "Year of Yes" a little bitty while ago. I became curious-er and curious-er as to why on earth she would do something as crazy as that. Jeez! Can you imagine saying yes to everything for an entire year? Really? Absolutely everything?

But she did and this book explains why. The details of what led up to her decision, the highlights of what happened during the year, how it changed the way she feels about herself and how differently she runs her business today. All of this happened as a result of accepting this challenge!

Let's face it, folks, Shonda Rhimes is pretty great. She's Ivy League educated. She writes like nobody's business. She's built a thriving business brand: Shondaland. She's amazing, right?

But Shonda has an issue. It's a big issue. A paralizing issue. Shonda happens to be an introvert. Being an introvert can be frightening. Sometimes. Certain situations can be debilitating. Sometimes. And, Shonda describes EXACTLY how it feels to be an introvert in this book.

I applaud Shonda's brave move to embrace this personal challenge. It was crazy bold. It changed her life, for heaven's sake! I enjoyed the fact that she didn't hold anything back about herself. Total disclosure from such a private individual is commendable. It is a bit repetitious and it rambles on a bit longer than necessary but, when all is said and done, it IS her story! I found it to be a candid, revealing and interesting read.

So why, you ask, did I listen to this audiobook? Because I'm an introvert, too. Shonda's speaks my speak! She's one of my people! It's as simple as that!

3.5 stars rounded up!
21 reviews
February 24, 2016
Honestly, this book could've have been 150 pages. She repeats herself SOOOOOOO much. Did you know she's a writer? She is. She's a writer. She makes stuff up for a living, cuz guess what? She's a writer.

Although the focus of the book is purportedly about how Shonda Rhimes finds a way to love herself, I can't help but think she loves herself quite a lot. Part of me hates saying that because, well, good for her. She should be proud, happy, and fulfilled. I think that's great. Even though I don't care for her shows, she has certainly accomplished a lot, entertained millions, and really changed the look of television for the better. But man, does she think she's funny. And man does she love to hear herself talk. She just goes on and on and on. It felt as if this were the first draft, like she just wrote it all stream of consciousness, last minute (as is clear she does a lot) and she thought: perfect!

The book could really be a pamphlet: Get out in the world. Don't be a shut in.
Profile Image for Lucy Mickelson.
15 reviews
November 24, 2015
It was OK - it wasn't what I expected it to be.... an inspiring tale of someone taking on the world with one simple response to any question - "YES!". It was sadly more egotistical and focused around a handful of experiences within that year - no doubt profound to Shonda, but not thoroughly inspiring to the reader.

If you like Shonda Rhimes and want to learn more about her, then great, this book is for you.

For someone that doesn't like talking about herself, she does a really fabulous job of talking about herself...

On the up side, she is witty and charming, warm and lovable. It's an easy, light read. And maybe this would be empowering to someone who is seeking validation on not wanting what society tells her she should have.
Profile Image for Gary Anderson.
Author 1 book83 followers
January 26, 2016
I wasn't going to say anything about this book because I abandoned it. Then the publisher advertised it on my Facebook feed, inviting my comments. I left a negative comment based on what I read, which the publisher then deleted. So here goes.

The self-indulgent twaddle in this book became nauseous early on. Rimes spends a surprising amount of time talking about whether or not certain situations will cause her to poop her pants. I pulled the plug when she speculated about the sex life and drug abuse of Mary Poppins.

This book originally appealed to me because I thought it would be about prioritizing for joy. Nope. There was a lot more about poop than there was about anything insightful or joyous.

Reviewing a book I didn't finish is not my usual approach, but I also don't think the publisher should use my feed to promote its product and then cherry-pick the feedback.
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,372 reviews1,420 followers
June 13, 2017
Shonda Rhimes' heartfelt memoir about the power of embracing who you are and having the courage to set aside what you are not.

Though outwardly successful, Shonda was miserable. Between over-working and her introverted tendencies, she turned down every invitation and social event. The ones that she was forced to accept were anxiety inducing trials or complete blanks because of panic attacks.

Shonda didn't even realize she was unhappy until, one Thanksgiving, her sister tells her that she doesn't say yes to anything. Something clicks and Shonda embarks on a Year of Yes. Her results are astonishing and so is this memoir.

I have never watched a single episode of Grey's Anatomy. I didn't even realize that that was her show. You don't need to be an aficionado to appreciate this book.

Shonda begins with some crushingly honest passages about her discomfort at sharing her life and her passion for writing. "Making stuff up is responsible for everything-everything I've done, everything I am, everything i have. Without the tales, the fiction, the stories I've spun, it is highly likely that right now, today, I'd be a very quiet librarian in Ohio." pg 6, ebook. Not that there's anything wrong with that. :)

The first part of this book was actually hard for me to get through because she was so obviously uncomfortable at creating a window into her heart and mind. She gets over it and so did I. "When it was first suggested to me that I write about this year, my first instinct was to say no. Writing about myself feels a lot like I have just decided to stand up on a table in a very proper restaurant, raise my dress and show everyone that I'm not wearing panties. That is to say, it feels shocking." pg 12, ebook.

Shonda is just so relatable. Take this confession about motherhood: "I don't know about you, but the mistakes and missteps I have made since becoming a mother... before kids, my confidence could not be dented. Now it's shattered on a daily basis. I don't know what I am doing." pg 63, ebook. I know, right! Nobody knows what they're doing. I take comfort in that.

Throughout her year of challenging herself, Shonda discovers that she's uncomfortable in her own skin because of her weight. This next passage is for anyone out there who has body image issues: "I believe everyone's body is theirs and everyone has a right to love their body in whatever size and shape and package it comes in. I will fight for anyone's right to do so. I will kick ass and take names if I have to. Your body is yours. My body is mine. No one's body is up for comment. No matter how small, how large, how curvy, how flat. If you love you, then I love you." pg 85, ebook. End of story.

I also liked how she came to a new understanding about how life works: "I've started to think we are like mirrors. What you are gets reflected back to you. What you see in yourself, you may see in others, and what others see in you, they may see in themselves." pg 120, ebook. I've started to think that too.

The Year of Yes is recommended for readers who enjoy memoirs or for those folks out there whose lives are in need of an awakening- a shaking of the snow globe of your reality, if you will. Shonda said yes to things that scared her and discovered, on the other side of fear, a life truly worth living. I hope that we can all be as fortunate and as brave on our journeys.
Profile Image for Jenny.
335 reviews8 followers
November 29, 2015
Dear Ms. Shonda Rhimes,

I want to be your friend. You don't know me but I want to be your friend. Since I'm requesting a friendship I should start by being honest first. I'm sorry but I've never watch any of your show. And I have to apology again since I will unlikely watch them in the future. It's not you, it's me.
But thank you for saying yes for a year, and writing your experiences in a funny, frank, honest book which felt like we had a long conversation over a delicious lunch as if we were friends. (I want to be on your Ride or Die list, but I'm running ahead of myself.) Thank you for sharing yourself in subjects that are relevant to me and women everywhere: being a working mom, motherhood, weight, friendship and family, the glass ceiling, marriage and so much more. I especially loved all the speeches.
I will do my best to become Badassery and practice Wonder Woman pose every chance I get and I look forward to another long lunch date in the future.

Profile Image for Diane.
1,080 reviews2,633 followers
May 10, 2016
This was a surprisingly good book about confronting your fears and being more open to new experiences. Shonda Rhimes is the writer and producer of several popular TV shows, including "Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal" and "How to Get Away With Murder." A self-described introvert, she realized she was always turning down opportunities to attend gatherings because she would rather stay home with her kids or just keep working.

So she challenged herself to spend a year saying yes to things that scared her, such as going on the Jimmy Kimmel show and giving a commencement speech at Dartmouth. The experiences were positive, and soon it became easier to agree to things that used to scare her. She also got inspired to exercise more and start eating better, and she lost 100 pounds.

A friend recommended this book to me, saying it had some good stories about balancing work and personal life. I was glad I gave it a chance, because I did find it inspiring and got some useful tips. I listened to this on audio, and Shonda was an entertaining performer. Recommended for those who like project memoirs or life-changing stories.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,318 reviews4,843 followers
January 29, 2022

Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes is an American television writer, showrunner, producer and director. She created the medical drama Grey's Anatomy, its spin-off, Private Practice, the political thriller Scandal, and the legal suspense drama How to Get Away with Murder.

Being a celebrity television writer Rhimes got many invitations to speak at conferences, attend glamorous parties, be a guest on talk shows, travel to other countries to meet royalty, and more. Rhimes bragged about the invites to her family, but never accepted them. That changed after Thanksgiving Day 2013 when her sister Delorse muttered, "You never say yes to anything."

Delorse's observation gave Rhimes pause for thought, and though she was shy and nervous and the events were "too scary", Shonda decided to embark on a year of saying yes.

Rhimes' preference for solitude - and penchant for making up stories - began in childhood. She writes, "As a kid I liked to play with the cans in pantry for hours on end. My three year old imagination made a world of it's own." Influenced by the Watergate hearings her mother watched, little Shonda made up tales in which "the big cans of yams ruled over the peas and green beans white the tiny citizens of tomato paste land planned to overthrow the government. There were hearings and failed assassination attempts and resignations."

Little Shonda Rhimes

Three-year-old Shonda was happier in the pantry than she was with people, and that was still true of forty-three year old Shonda. But adult Rhimes wasn't satisfied with her life. Though she had several successful television shows and three wonderful daughters, Rhimes needed something more.

Rhimes' "saying yes" began when President Philip Hanlon of Dartmouth College - her alma mater - asked her to give the 2014 commencement speech. Shonda agreed, safe in the knowledge the event was 5 1/2 months away. Lightning struck sooner, though, when Rhimes was invited to be interviewed on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Shonda was terrified, "afraid she'd trip over her own feet, crack her head on the corner of Jimmy's desk, fall down and reveal her double Spanx to a national audience, have tsunamis of sweat rolling down her face, and finally faint on the floor in front of Jimmy's desk." In the end Rhimes agreed to do the interview if it was taped instead of live, and - because Jimmy Kimmel was such a solicitous and talented interviewer - things went very well.

Shonda Rhimes with Jimmy Kimmel (right) and actor Scott Foley (center)

Having gained confidence, Rhimes didn't experience the flop sweats she feared at Dartmouth, and it turns out she's an excellent speaker.

Shonda Rhimes giving commencement address at Dartmouth College

Rhimes opened her Dartmouth commencement talk by admitting she doesn't like to give speeches because she's afraid she'll pass out, or die, or poop her pants, or vomit. Then Shonda went on to explain how sad she was to graduate college.....to leave the wonderful environment of academia for the real world (she lay on her dorm room floor in despair while her mother packed her things).

Rhimes told the graduating seniors to be 'doers not dreamers' and acknowledged that, as a successful working mother she can't do it all. Shonda said, "Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I'm failing in another area of my life. If I am killing it on a Scandal script for work, I am probably missing bath and story time at home. If I'm at home sewing my kids' Halloween costumes, I'm probably blowing off a rewrite I was supposed to turn in."

Shonda Rhimes with her daughter

Rhimes emphasizes there are trade-offs to being a working mom, but she always makes time for her children. She also acknowledges that 'to do it all', a working woman needs help at home, and lavishly praises her wonderful nanny Jenny McCarthy (not the anti-vaccine TV personality).

In her typical honest fashion, Rhimes also talks about her weight. Early in her 'year of saying yes' Shonda caught an unexpected glimpse of herself in a mirror and wondered "Who is that?" She recalls, "It actually takes a few seconds for my brain to catch up, for me to realize with shock that I am looking at my own reflection. I am staring at myself encased in many many extra pounds of fat, so many I'm afraid to get on a scale. I am massive. But more important I FEEL massive. I don't feel good. My knees hurt, my joints hurt, I'm exhausted all the time, I'm on high blood pressure medication, I can't get comfortable, I can't touch my toes, I am a mess. I need to eat a piece of cake to cope with this discovery." 😊

Rhimes' weight gain was related (in part) to the pressures in her life, to being what she calls "an FOD"- first only different. By this she means 'being successful while being a black woman', which is "an extra responsibility whether you want it or not."

Rhimes emphasizes that, when she made her first television show, Grey's Anatomy, she wanted it to look like the real world looks. Rhimes writes, "I filled it with people of all hues, genders, backgrounds and sexual orientations. And then I wrote all of them as if they were people with three dimensional lives." In fact all Rhimes' shows reflect this drive for inclusiveness.

In the beginning, though, this much diversity was trailblazing and brave, and Shonda had to work all the time. Rhimes writes "I stayed home more, I spent more time working, more time alone, more time hiding." And along the way she gradually doubled in size, almost without noticing. Rhimes says, "Being fat has worked for me. Being fat made me happy. Food works, there's the trouble."

Shonda Rhimes worked all the time

Rhimes decided her weight was another thing that had to change, and though slimming "was hard and not fun", she made up her mind to do it. Shonda dieted, learned to love salads, got a trainer, and eventually lost well over 100 pounds.

Shonda Rhimes lost over 100 pounds

Speaking about being awarded the Sherry Lansing Award at The Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment Breakfast, Rhimes notes she was chosen "in recognition of breaking through the industry's glass ceiling as a woman and an African-American." In her acceptance speech, however, Shonda gave credit to all the women who had weakened the ceiling. She said, "How many women had to hit that glass to ripple it, to send out a thousand little fractures? How many women had to hit the glass before the pressure of their efforts caused it to evolve from a thick pane of glass to a thin sheet of splintered ice, so that when it was my turn to run, it didn't even look like glass anymore?" Rhimes goes on to say, "I didn't have to fight that hard. My sisters who came before me had already handled it."

Shonda Rhimes receiving the Sherry Lansing Award

Like many successful people, Rhimes was bombarded with requests for favors, and had to learn to say no. She writes, "It's much worse if you're successful in show business. All kinds of people decide that you are rich. And not just rich. They decide you are a bank. People came out of the woodwork, They wanted jobs, places to stay, money, scripts to be read, a part in the show, audition opportunities, tuition, films to be financed, introduction to celebrities, investments in their companies, you name it and I have been asked for it."

At first Rhimes couldn't say no, and her parents and sisters stepped in to act as human shields "forcing back the herds of weirdos and audacious money-seekers." But the family couldn't force back the people she thought were friends, people she was close to and dated, what she calls "the foxes in my hen house." After a while, Rhimes forced herself to say no to these people, and they didn't take it well. (It shows you who your real friends are.)

By the end of her 'year of saying yes', Rhimes had grown more courageous, shed some shyness, and learned to just open her mouth and talk. So the yeses continued.

Rhimes covers additional topics in the book, including adopting her children; going to their school and recreational events; her beautiful tween;

Shonda Rhimes and her daughter Harper

not getting married; meeting Oprah Winfrey and President Obama;

Shonda Rhimes and Oprah Winfrey

learning to take a compliment; falling out with some (former) close friends; her fabulous sisters and parents; and more.

Shonda Rhimes and some of her family members

Shonda also talks a little about her TV shows, but they're not the focus of the book. So if you're interested in scuttlebutt about Shondaland productions, you'll have to look elsewhere.

Shonda Rhimes with stars of her shows, Ellen Pompeo (left), Viola Davis (center), and Kerry Washington (right)

The book contains some interesting stories, and is worth reading. On the downside, Rhimes tends to be repetitive, and some parts of the narrative are overlong, rambling, and a bit boring.

You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot....
Profile Image for Jessica Woodbury.
1,586 reviews1,987 followers
January 17, 2016
I do not like many memoirs. And I do not like many inspirational books. And yet here I am, really liking Shonda Rhimes' inspirational memoir. Initially I had my doubts. I'm a divorced single parent trying to make waves in a new career and scraping through to get food on the table. She's arguably the biggest thing in television, running her own production company, and while she's a single mom, she's got a nanny, a support system, and plenty of money. How does someone who has it all inspire you? How do they write a book that doesn't just make you hate them for all the great stuff they have in their life?

Well, if you're Shonda Rhimes, you happen to be a great writer with a strong voice and a flair for the honest joke. You don't need to be a fan of her shows, but if you've watched the first season of Grey's Anatomy, you'll recognize the voice quickly. The way Cristina Yang and Meredith Grey talk to each other? That's how Shonda Rhimes writes. That's her voice you were hearing. So if you have watched her shows, you'll find you recognize it pretty quickly. It almost seems like you're already really good friends who know each other well. And it does go a long way to helping you get comfortable with her.

Also there's one important thing. Shonda Rhimes *knows* her privilege. She lays it all out there. She is writing not about how her life is so great, but about how her life was so great and yet she wasn't actually living it and enjoying it. All of us face some of the problems she confronts in one way or another. Even though some chapters didn't apply much to my life, I still enjoyed listening to her. (She reads the audiobook. I highly recommend it. There are a few parts of the book where she is getting ready for a speech and the book features the live readings of those speeches, which are both really really really good speeches, so that's an added bonus.) And there were parts of this book where I thought, "Yes, that's true, that's something I can change in my own life."

This book is of particular use for introverts and writers. Being both of those things is a huge part of who Shonda is and where her obstacles came from.
Profile Image for Brown Girl Reading.
346 reviews1,595 followers
November 10, 2015
I was happily surprised when I was approached by a representative from Simon & Schuster asking me if I was interested in reading Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes in exchange for an honest review. I couldn’t refuse. I knew Rhimes’s book was due to be released soon and wasn’t sure if I’d be able to pick it up to give it a try.

Even though my work schedule has butchered my reading and blogging for the moment, I’m still managing to read a bit here and there. Year of Yes was my latest conquest and it arrived 4 days ago and I managed to gobble up this 307-page book in that time. Check out the rest of the review here: http://browngirlreading.com/2015/11/1...
17 reviews
May 7, 2018
I hated this book. HATED IT. Did you hear me? Hated. It. (For those who have not read the book, that is the writing style she overuses throughout.) Shonda Rhimes describes herself as an introvert who uses wine to get through difficult social situations. She turns down invitations because she's terrified and wants to avoid attention. So, she decides to say yes to everything that scares her. Great premise, horrible execution. I did not come away with any inspiration or motivation. I did come away with an intense dislike for the author.

Someone else described this book as one giant humblebrag, and I think that is the perfect description. No, Shonda, you don't have to apologize for having self-confidence, but repeatedly announcing your badassery (her word) is off-putting and annoying.

I'm proclaiming this the Year of No. I'm saying "no" to finishing any book that makes me roll my eyes within the first five minutes.
51 reviews2 followers
November 15, 2015
Shockingly, the problems of a zillionaire TV mogul and my problems have zero overlap. So: nope.
Profile Image for Monica.
583 reviews611 followers
November 21, 2020
Welp. I'm kind of torn here because I see the value in this book, but it wasn't my cuppa. The reason it wasn't my cuppa is because my perception of myself is deeper than a puddle. Simply put, I found this book to be shallow and surface-y, and superficial. There is no wisdom given in this book that is unknown to people like me. No earth shattering revelations, not even a morsel to ponder more deeply. Nope this was a book for fans of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal. Rhimes expresses herself through characters that she has drawn on television. I am apparently one of four people on earth who has never seen a single episode of Grey's Anatomy which puts me at a considerable disadvantage in receiving this book. My understanding is that Rhimes' avatar is Christina Yang the meaning of which would be obvious to me if I was familiar with the show. Shorter Monica: The vehicle with which Rhimes uses to connect to her audience does not drive anywhere near my zip code.

That being said, what Rhimes is bringing to the world is the concept self empowerment. The idea of trusting yourself, heightening your self awareness and giving yourself permission to be yourself. The idea that you and the choices that you make are responsible for your own happiness. The notion that it's ok if you are different. She abhors the word diversity and sees herself as normalizing television by showcasing people of color, LGBTQ etc. These are wonderful things to be promoting by a smart, talented lady who is using her fame to elucidate positive concepts. But ultimately this is a pop culture piece that will remain relevant as long as Rhimes is relevant and then it will languish in obscurity. The good thing is that Rhimes knows this and is OK with it. I don't get the impression that she wrote this for money; but to make use of the opportunity to have a positive impact on fans lives while she has them. And it just might, as far as it goes...

3.5 Stars rounded down because frankly Rhimes worked too hard to seem down to earth and grounded. Not buying it…

Read on kindle
Profile Image for Britany.
951 reviews413 followers
March 19, 2017
Shonda Rhimes narrates the audio version of this book, which took this book to the next level for me. This book read just like one of her famously written shows. I could her the characters she created coming to life and spinning off parts of Shonda. While she certainly didn't share any tough childhood experiences, or struggles. She managed to inspire and give hope for those that don't dream, but do. She shares real instances of body image and stage fright, and breathed life into the woman behind the best Thursday night lineup. She talks about balancing life and work, which is tough when you're a woman trying to take a seat at the proverbial table. Her sister inspired this "Year of Yes" by mentioning to Shonda one Thanksgiving how she never says "yes" to anything. Shonda took this challenge and ran away with it, she managed to grow into an even stronger woman than she was before.

Thinking I should grab the bull by the horns and say "Yes" to my own life this year.
Profile Image for Kristy.
974 reviews120 followers
March 25, 2019
4.5 Stars

There’s something to be said for reading the right book at the right time. I’ve had this book for years and have always put it off. Celebrity memoirs, self-help, and inspirational books just aren’t my thing. And Year of Yes looked to me like it’d be all three of those wrapped into one. And it kind of was. But it spoke to me in ways I didn’t think it could. I am an intense introvert. My goal is to be invisible. I also have a huge fear of failure. I say no to so much or never even try because I can’t stand the anxiety that comes with putting yourself out there or trying something new.

I wouldn’t have thought that someone like Shonda Rhimes would have anything to say to me on this matter. I mean, she’s Shonda Rhimes. She runs an empire. And I’m thrilled if I get out of my sweatpants during the weekend. But she became somewhat of a kindred spirit as I read this.

As I decided this year that I would actually accomplish all of those pesky resolution I set each January, I’ve embarked on a journey that mirrors Rhimes’ “Year of Yes.” And I’ve found solace and camaraderie in this memoir.
Profile Image for Ana  Lelis.
452 reviews142 followers
March 26, 2023
I've never seen Grey's Anatomy or any of her shows but I like stories about challenges or saying ''yes'' to things. I wasn't expecting much from this book but I had such a fun time. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Shonda herself, which improved the experience. It was like listening to a friend telling a story. I didn't feel like it was a self-help book at all, but still, you can learn a thing or two while enjoying the story. Her narrative is fun and captivating. And because I liked her writing a lot, I'm curious now to watch her shows. Maybe I will give them a try in the future.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,352 reviews2,395 followers
January 4, 2017
Is there anyone out there who doesn’t think Shonda Rhimes is something special? She has got it all going on, creating TV characters (in a time frame that would cripple most of us) for several shows that reflect the best and worst of ourselves. She is a genuinely interesting personality. So it was something of a shock to discover she is an introvert who would much rather stay home reading and writing in her PJs than get out there and take her place on stage.

But of course Rhimes is an introvert. How else could she find all those voices in her head, both in time and creativity? But the introvert part meant that Rhimes was refusing some “best time of your life” invitations to do things where she would be feted, admired, and all that, but she could also find people to admire. She decided, for one year, to say “yes” to invites that she would ordinarily eschew.

She was in a good position to do it. Though it complicated some aspects of her life, she had the family and financial resources to make up any shortfall. It was fascinating when she discovered her children are extroverts, and nothing like herself. She does that humble-brag thing, where she says something like “three hot-as-fire TV shows, three children, sleeping, eating, working, writing has been kicking my ass lately.” Yeah, girl. I bet. Harumpf.

But Rhimes is no humble-brag. Not very long after that she tells us about her struggles to do things that she isn’t as good at as TV shows and imagination, like living consciously, victoriously, really. Here she is, the most successful woman any of us can imagine, with a fun job with fun people in a fun city, and she is pulling in and shutting down, feeling old, getting fat. Good lord, what does that to us?

It’s like a disease. But I get it. It is easier, sometimes, to live in one’s imagination. I do it, too. Not even writing books, me, just reading them. One can do it in a balanced way, or in an unbalanced way. Rhimes is here to tell you (and you don’t have to listen, but then, well, good luck out there) how it feels to recognize and slowly heal that sickness. It might be a little like, “Hi, my name is Jennie, and I am an introvert,” but again, there are healthy ways to be and unhealthy ways, and most of us know instinctively which is which. When it gets bad enough, you might want a little Shonda to brighten your day. She’s funny, she’s smart, and she’s been there.

We certainly get a look into the way Rhimes speaks, and thinks, if we didn’t already get plenty of that through her characters. (We knew she liked red wine, for instance.) She answers for us things she really shouldn’t have to answer—like deciding not to get married. Maybe it helped her to write that part down, at least so she has some ready answers the next time someone comes to her with what she calls “Big Questions.”

Speaking of which, one of the more fascinating parts of this book for me was her response to the “Why is diversity so important?” question. I would never have thought to ask that question, and that is sort of the way she answers it:
"...one of the dumbest questions on the face of the earth, right up there with 'Why do people need food and air?' and 'Why should women be feminists?'

…I really hate the word diversity. It suggests something…other. As if it is something…special. Or rare.


As if there is something unusual about telling stories involving women and people of color and LGBTQ characters on TV.

I have a different word: NORMALIZING.

I’m normalizing TV.

I’m making TV look the way the world looks. Women, people of color, LGBTQ people equal WAY more than 50 percent of the population. Which means it ain’t out off the ordinary. I am making the world of television look NORMAL.

…The goal is that everyone should get to turn on the TV and see someone who looks like them and loves like them. And just as important, everyone should turn on the TV and see someone who doesn’t look like them and love like them. Because perhaps then they will learn from them.”
There is only one thing that confuses me about this memoir: is introvert now “bad” and extrovert now “good”? Rhimes spent a year
“trying to be as cocky and immodest and brazen as I can. I’m trying to take up as much space as I need to take up. To not make myself smaller in order to make someone else feel better. I’m allowing myself to shamelessly and comfortably be the loudest voice in the room.”
I guess that is not quite clear to me. So this is the goal? To take up more space, to impose one’s will? I understand being happy in the world. I understand not backing down from who you are. I’m not sure why that has to drown out others. But I’m glad Rhimes feels better at the end of it. As long as she isn’t just making that up for our benefit.

Writing, pitching, producing & showrunning - WELCOME to Shonda's @masterclass! More info: https://t.co/fB4cnOa0qz -Shonda's Squad pic.twitter.com/iJAdo1RfPK

— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) December 15, 2016

2 reviews
December 31, 2015
The writing style was annoying... Very self centered and stream of thought based. I love her shows but didn't enjoy her book.
Profile Image for Xueting.
265 reviews123 followers
July 9, 2016
I love love love this book. It makes me want to really take care of myself and love myself more. If anyone needs an inspirational self-help kinda read, whatever your main struggle in life, this book will help make you feel so much better. Even if you're not looking for particular advice on a thing, like me, read it too. Because we can always do with more self-encouragement and love from others, and Shonda Rhimes gives that here! She is such a lovely role model and friend! Yeah I do feel like we've become friends through this book, she writes with such a personal touch, like she really wants to inspire and connect with others through her Year of Yes experience :) one thing I absolutely love is that I don't feel like she's /praising/ one side of social behavior - she talks about the joys of saying YES to things more, which often includes daring social public activities, but she also loves and sees the joy of 'introversion', to kick back at home with your closest loved ones. The main thing is to love who you are and not to worry about who you are supposed to be. It's still something I'm working on so this is great motivation!

Loads of unique sections like taking care of your body, loving yourself by accepting compliments, how motherhood really is and should be, normalcy vs diversity on TV... I wanna try that Wonder Woman pose now!! So funny too, which isn't a surprise if you've ever seen an episode of one of her shows.

Really enjoy the little tidbits from Grey's too because gosh I love that show although I'm 4 seasons behind!!! This book makes me nostalgic for the show and I appreciate it even more.
Profile Image for Lauren.
320 reviews16 followers
November 14, 2015
I was slow to warm to this book - I loved the idea of the topic and enjoy Rhimes' work on television, but initially found her writing to be too casual and chatty to really hold my attention. After putting it down for a few days, I picked it up again and found that I read half the book in one sitting. Rhimes is confessional and funny, writing with a wit and rhythm that probably works best when read aloud (of course, she writes for TV!). Once I adjusted to that rhythm, I couldn't get enough - many passages made me laugh out loud while also reflecting on my own life choices and how often I choose "yes." If you love Shondaland, you will probably love this.
96 reviews598 followers
February 6, 2016
A fun and sometimes enlightening journey of personal growth. I enjoyed myself a lot on various occasions but it failed to truly hit the spot. It was funny, honest, and entertaining non the less. I'd still recommend it especially if you are a fan of her work. One of those quick/nice treats that come in book form.
Profile Image for Linda Hart.
731 reviews136 followers
November 16, 2019
After having read half of this self-congratulatory narcissistic book I was so irritated by the content and the narrative that I finally decided it was not going to get any better. So I set it aside, deciding not to finish it. Truly the only reason I read as much as I did is it because of the high ratings it has received, but honestly the repetitive writing is terrible. The author has to tell you everything three or more times in three or more different ways....Good grief, was she sleeping with a publisher, or what(?) because if ever a book needed serious editing it is this one. Her “story“ and opinions could easily have been reduced to 130 pages. Yes, it is very impressive what she has accomplished in her young life (apparently she is “Hollywood’s most powerful woman”) but she should stick to screenwriting fiction and hosting the Thursday Night TV lineup. Flyleaf comments notwithstanding, I did not find this book inspiring, motivating, or particularly funny, let alone hilarious.
Profile Image for Julie Ehlers.
1,112 reviews1,384 followers
October 3, 2016
At first glance, I'm not the obvious audience for this book: I've never seen even a single episode of one of Shonda Rhimes's shows. (I'm not bragging or anything—I'm just not a big TV watcher.) So I didn't pick up Year of Yes because I was a big fan. I picked it up because the description resonated with me: Shonda and I are both introverts who have to work to force ourselves out of our comfort zone. I've even done something similar to the Year of Yes already; a few years back, I chose a word of intention for myself: Brave. For that year, if I wanted to do something and the only thing stopping me was fear, I HAD to do it. No exceptions. It was a great year, and I kept it up for a while longer, but eventually I fell back into my comfort zone, which is where I am ensconced at the present time. I needed inspiration to get back out of it, and this book seemed like an ideal motivator.

I have to admit, though, that I wasn't immediately drawn in. The book is very well written, but Shonda's style grated at first. She takes a while to build up to whatever point she's making, adding many humorous stylistic flourishes along the way. Initially, it was a bit much for me, but eventually I got used to it and even began to enjoy it. Shonda became like that theatrical friend who always injects drama or performance into her conversations but can tell a story better than anyone.

Not surprisingly, the book also provided a lot of useful advice on saying yes. Shonda worked on saying yes to event invitations she would have turned down in the past, but she also worked on developing courage in her relationships, both personal and professional. My favorite quote was something like: "Freedom lies across the field of the difficult conversation"—a philosophy I agree with completely. We need to be able to have honest conversations with the people we're close to, even if those conversations are occasionally unpleasant, and the fact that she included so much of this in the book made it especially meaningful. There were also chapters on saying yes to saying no—no to working too much, or to allowing people to take advantage of her. Obviously, for many of us, saying no can be just as important as saying yes, so all this was helpful too.

There was also a lot of really interesting information on Shonda's creativity—how her work affects her life and vice versa. Her views on this subject were unique and fascinating to me, and a lot of it was really personal. I appreciated how much of herself Shonda was willing to reveal; it made the whole book feel honest and real.

If I had one complaint, it's that a few chapters didn't quite fit with the theme and seem to have been included just because Shonda had a lot to say on those particular topics. But it was all still a fun read. If you're a fan of Shonda's shows, I can't see how you could fail to love this. But even if you're just looking for an entertaining, interesting look at a creative person's life and how she learned to shake it up, Year of Yes is definitely worth a try.
Profile Image for Maria Yankulova.
669 reviews239 followers
December 29, 2021
Книгата на Шонда Раймс е истинско откритие и изненада за мен. Не очаквах да ми хареса толкова много. Шонда пише искрено и честно за проблемите си с килограмите, за нежеланието си да се омъжи и за стеснителността си. Харесвам я много покрай трите сериала, чийто сценарий е писала. Обожавам “Анатомията на Грей” и честно казано сега си давам сметка за истинската стойност, която различните персонажи дават - хомо, би, жени, които не искат деца и още и още...

Казвам ДА на Шонда и нейната книга.
Profile Image for Flannery.
326 reviews
April 13, 2016
I would say I'm a 4 or 5 out of 10 on the Shonda-Rhimes-Television-Show-Enjoyment-Index-That-I-Just-Made-Up-Right-Now. I watched maybe two seasons of Grey's Anatomy and then stopped. I watched two seasons of Scandal and then gave it up. I watched a few episodes of How to Get Away with Murder and then never watched any more. I think those shows are better than a lot of what's out there, but I just never found myself compelled to keep going. I felt exactly the same way about this audiobook. I liked hearing Rhimes talk about her life in broad gestures, but that's all it was. In other memoirs that were hugely successful to me as a reader (e.g. This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection and Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life) I truly felt I was listening to an intimate reflection on parts of their lives. I was moved, I laughed and I walked away feeling like I understood them more as a person. After listening to Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person, I know a few more details about Shonda Rhimes: She is very busy, she has three kids, she is shy, she has a large family, her parents are happily married, she identifies with Christina Yang from Grey's Anatomy and she considers herself a former pushover. But I honestly felt like she did not release any of her true feelings into her memoir. It's as if she approached this memoir as a script with herself as the character she was writing about.

I understand that Rhimes has used this overarching idea of saying 'yes' to things and that her decision to do this more often for a year changed her outlook on life. That's great. But I kind of feel like I got as much information on the overall theme of the book from the title as I did from the book. As a self-help book, this fails, because there is very little actual advice beyond agreeing to things that scare you and being confident in your decisions. As a memoir, this was only marginally successful for me as a reader because it was mostly just broad strokes. She included actual audio footage from a few speeches she gave and I thought that perfectly summed up the feeling I got from this book: Generally inspirational. Mildly introspective. A little bit of something for everyone. But it just wasn't a lot of anything for me.
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,830 reviews358 followers
August 2, 2016
A combination of memoir and self-help book, The Year of Yes was a quick and easy read. It is written in a very conversational tone (unlike many books in the self-help genre) and that may put off some readers. So help me, I had absolutely no idea who Shonda Rhimes was and I must confess that I have never seen any of her TV shows. The writing in this book left me wondering about the writing for the shows—she must put on a different hat for writing those, for I can’t imagine this style producing award winning programming.

If you are looking for a little inspiration to get out of any ruts that you have become comfortable in, this book may be helpful. I might warn you away from it if you are unemployed, as her obvious enjoyment of her high-powered job could be a bit hard to take. But I do think she shines a much-needed spotlight on some particularly female career problems, namely being able to claim our success without embarrassment and not shying away from telling our workmates exactly what we want and need. I’m sure that non-caucasian readers will benefit from reading about Rhimes’ experiences with being asked repeatedly about being a successful African-American woman.

One chapter which younger readers will potentially find useful was the one on sorting out real friends from hangers-on. Not all of us are successful enough to have hangers-on, but I think we all at some point or another realize that not all the people we hang out with are really our friends. They are there for what they can get and when you actually ask them to give in return, you will see their true faces. To bravely purge these people from your life is a liberating experience and Rhimes describes it well.

I admired Rhimes’ honesty regarding her refusal to get married. As she said, when she was engaged, she received more approval from friends and family than she did for all of her other achievements (not inconsiderable) combined. Why does society still do this to women? You may have a full, wonderful life, but if you aren’t married, you quickly get the message that nothing else matters. As one of those rebels who refuses to marry, I very much appreciated her description of her decision to break off wedding plans, despite the disappointment of her family. She has chosen to adopt children, which I find admirable.
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