Reading Log: Yes Please (Amy Poehler)

I don’t listen to many audiobooks—I don’t multitask well and my daily routine doesn’t leave much time for attentive listening—so when I do, I look for books that will reward intermittent listening and are, if not read by the author then ready by something other than the omnipresent, Generic Radio-Style Narrator. And, of course, I’d like a good book!

Yes Please hits all the right practical notes, read well and with much personality by Poehler, helped along by a bevy of friends including Patrick Stuart, Seth Myers and even her parents. The last chapter is a real highlight that is perfectly suited to this book: Poehler reads it live to a group at a comedy club…and the laughter is infectious.

Because I love Amy Poehler (not in a creepy way…or at least it’s not creepy if I don’t go into detail) and the characters she inhabits, I hoped and expected Yes Please to be intelligent, funny and full of Poehler’s charming combination of awkwardness and self-aware star power. I wasn’t disappointed. But it’s an eccentric book as well. I happen to be reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants right now and the differences in the books written by this pair of best friends (I was a little disappointed that Fey didn’t make an appearance as a reader) is stark. Bossypants, which is very good, is basically a series of comedic personal essays; Yes Please is more like a diary, with a diary’s mix of breezy recollections, earnestness and advice for both the writer and the future reader.

In this relatively slight book, Poehler includes stories and vignettes from childhood to the present day, from her struggles as a young comedian, actress and writer to her love for her children. There’s a little something here for everyone. If stories of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade and Saturday Night Live aren’t your thing, then Poehler’s re-telling of learning how to say she was sorry—and mean it—or the self-helpy advice (that ranges from funny and good to somewhat clichéd) might.

I suspect I wouldn’t have liked this book nearly as much on the page. Nor will it be gracing any of my Top 10 literary lists. But go into the listening (or reading) experience of Yes Please prepared for what it is and I defy you not to end up loving Amy Poehler at least a little bit.

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