Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

RhimesDate Read: January 14th 2016

Published: November 2015

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pages: 311

 

The Blurb

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.

 

Review –  ★★★★ (4 stars)

Who would have thought Shonda Rhimes’ sister’s six words: ‘You never say yes to anything’ during their Thanksgiving dinner preparations in 2013 would push her to a Year of Yes Challenge? Shonda Rhimes – television producer, writer and Hollywood powerhouse is a hard worker and used to drown herself in work to keep her two, super popular television shows –Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal on ABC (television network). Work was Rhimes’ excuse to avoid attending interviews, red carpet events, speaking engagements and the like. Shonda Rhimes was just your typical introvert: focused on reading, writing and just sticking to herself without being in the spotlight. Her sister’s words pushed her out of her comfort zone to dare to say yes to everything and all the invitations that came her way. Through this challenge, she learned to become more comfortable with herself, to love herself more, to have less awkward conversations, to take her health seriously and to even speak at Dartmouth College – her alma mater, during commencement in 2014.

Year of Yes: How To Dance It Out, Stand In The Sun And Be Your Own Person was a relatively easy and entertaining page-turner. I finally understand the magic behind Rhimes’ badass career (in the book, she coins the word ‘badassery’ haha), especially after her Year of Yes challenge to herself. This was an inspiring read with lots of positive affirmations and quotes. Some of my favorite quotes were:

Lucky implies that I was handed something I did not earn, that I did not work hard for. Gentle reader, may you never be lucky. I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me badass. (pg. 181)

An awesome quote on what she wishes to achieve through her television shows:

The need to hear the words: ‘You are not alone’. The fundamental human need for one human being to hear another human being say to them ‘You are not alone. You are seen. I am with you. You are not alone’. I get asked a lot by reporters and tweeters why I am so invested in ‘diversity’ on television. ‘Why is it so important to have diversity on TV?’ they say. I really hate the word diversity. It suggests something… other. As if it is something…special. Or rare. Diversity! As if there is something unusual about telling stories involving women, people of color and LGBTQ characters on TV. I have a different word: NORMALIZING. I’m normalizing TV. I am making TV look like the world looks. Women, people of color, LGBTQ people equal way more than 50 percent of the population. Which means it ain’t out of the ordinary. I am making the world of television NORMAL. I am normalizing television. You should get to turn on the TV and see your tribe. Your tribe can be any kind of person, anyone you identify with, anyone who feels like you, who feels like home, who feels like truth. (pg. 235)

 

I especially appreciated the commentary on the challenges of balancing motherhood and being a successful career woman. Having 3 successful shows on prime time television AND being a mother of 3 young girls are not easy feats! Rhimes constantly has to find balance when it comes to either being in the studio during writing and filming sessions or finding time to attend her daughters’ recitals and simply spending enough time with them at home. With more women in the workforce nowadays, I feel a lot of women readers who balance motherhood and their careers would identify with Rhimes’ hilarious and thoughtful discourse on finding balance.

I have been a faithful fan of Grey’s Anatomy since 2009, and the writing style of this book is quite similar to that of the show – chatty, funny and conversational. But one thing that bugged me about Year of Yes was how chatty Rhimes’ thought process was in the beginning of the book. It reminded me of the ever so annoying Dr. April Kepner character of Grey’s Anatomy and I was almost put to sleep at times by this. But all in all, I admire Rhimes and I can’t wait to see what other groundbreaking projects she has up her sleeve in the future. Even if you aren’t a fan of her shows, please do read this – its a motivating, brave memoir by an incredible black woman. You might even want to try the Year of Yes challenge for yourself!

★★★★ (4 stars) – Great book. Highly recommend!

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The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

Date Read: May 25th 2015Issa Rae

Published: January 2015

Publisher: 37 INK / ATRIA books

Pages: 204

 

 

 

 

The Blurb

Being an introvert in a world that glorifies cool isn’t easy. But when Issa Rae, the creator of the Shorty Award – winning hit series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, is that introvert – whether she’s navigating love, the workplace, friendships, or ‘rapping’ – It sure is entertaining. Now, in this debut collection written in her witty and self-deprecating voice, Rae covers everything from cyber-sexing in the early days of the Internet to deflecting unsolicited comments on weight gain, from navigating the perils of eating out alone and public displays of affection to learning to accept yourself – natural hair and all.

Reflective of the millennial experience yet wholly universal, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is a book no one – awkward or cool, black, white (or other) – will want to miss.

 

Review – ★★★★ (4 stars)

I love Jo-Issa (aka: Issa Rae) even more after reading this book! I wouldn’t call this book a memoir… its more like a collection of essays where Issa Rae talks about her life happenings. From the reviews I’ve seen on Goodreads, some readers seemed disappointed that this book wasn’t as funny as they had expected, since Issa Rae is hilarious on Youtube. I started this book with no expectations at all; I am simply a fan who wanted to support Issa Rae’s brand, and I must say I was not disappointed! I learned a lot about Issa Rae from The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl: Issa Rae is fluent in French, she grew up in Maryland, Los Angeles and Senegal, she went to Stanford University, she has 4 siblings (they are the Diop 5!) and her father is a Senegalese doctor in Los Angeles.

My favorite chapter, entitled ‘Halfrican’, is where Issa Rae talks about her (half) Senegalese heritage and upbringing (in the United States and frequently in Dakar, Senegal). I commend Issa Rae for writing a chapter on her father – entitled ‘African Dad’, where she discusses her family dynamics and the divorce of her parents. She really poured her heart out in some of these chapters, and I was impressed! Another thing I like about this book is how Issa’s claim to fame ‘awkwardness’ lingers throughout every chapter, even as she candidly discusses her college experiences (where she produced and directed four theatrical productions), love life, experiences of being a black actress/writer and weight issues (once you read the book, you will understand what I mean by this).

It was great to finally read a narrative of a black woman, who is of a privileged background. The ‘started from the bottom’, impoverished childhood narrative most people of color claim is not generic to all people of color. Some black folks actually grew up well-off, and that is perfectly okay! The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl was a great jump-start to my summer reading as it was enjoyable, light-hearted and of course some bits were hilarious – duh, it’s Issa Rae!

 

More on Issa Rae

Issa Rae 3With her own unique flare and infectious sense of humor, Issa Rae’s content has garnered more than 20 million views and hundreds of thousands of YouTube subscribers (and counting). In addition to making Glamour magazine’s ’35 Under 35’ list as well as Forbes’s ‘30 Under 30’ list, and winning the Shorty Award for best Web Show for her hit series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, Issa Rae has worked on web content for Pharrell Williams, Tracey Edmonds, and numerous others. Issa has received national attention with major media outlets, including the New York Times, CNN, Elle, Seventeen, Rolling Stone, VIBE, Fast Company, MSNBC, Essence, Fader and more.

 

If Issa Rae 2you are not familiar with Issa Rae, please watch her YouTube web-series: The Misadventures of AWKWARD Black Girl and have a good laugh. I eagerly look forward to Issa Rae’s future projects and her breakthrough to television!

 

 

 ★★★★ (4 stars) – Great book. Highly recommend!

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Purchase The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl on Amazon