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Friday, 5 December 2014

Recently Read: November

I thought I had read more last month but apparently not. 
What I did read though, I really enjoyed.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Like a lot of people, I'm a big fan of Amy Poehler. I love Parks and Rec and her many appearances in other TV shows/films so I was greatly anticipating this autobiography. I got this on audible and like other autobiographies, I think this works really well via that medium. It's read by the woman herself with guest appearances by her own parents, her co-stars from Saturday night Live and Kathleen Turner and Patrick Stewart. This differs from similar books by Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling in that Yes Please is really a much more in-depth look at Poehler's life, from her childhood and teenage years to her early days in standup and how she built her career, rather than just a vehicle for jokes. Her marriage to Will Arnett and the birth of their two children are also discussed along with various lessons she's learnt throughout her life- these are at times embarrassing and often don't reflect well on her but it felt all the more realistic for their inclusion. Like the big sap that I am, I cried at a couple of different parts (because I can't read any book without crying apparently. Give me an Argos catalogue and I'll find something to weep over) and I certainly laughed out loud several times too. That said, this isn't a traditionally humorous book, so if you're expecting a laugh a minute then you'll be disappointed. I have confirmed from reading this that I want to be Amy Poehler when I grow up though (let's all ignore the fact that I'm 30). She literally has zero Fucks to give and that is so refreshing. When recounting the story of how a man she was working with kept refusing to take her answer of 'no' seriously, she quotes from Gavin de Becker's book "The Gift of Fear", which I read  last year and like Amy, resonated with me too. Basically de Becker says that 'no' should be the end of the conversation, whereas some men think it's the beginning of bargaining. Amy's wise to that and puts this guy straight. Also included is one of my (now) favourite quotes ever:
"Asking me to smile or relax is like bringing a birthday cake into an ape sanctuary. You're just asking to have your nose and genitals bitten off".
G'wan Amy. 

How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran
Having loved How to be a Woman, I was all over this when it was published. In fact, I even went to see Moran doing a live reading in Dublin AND got myself a signed copy (plus an I Am A Feminist t-shirt, which may be one of my most favourite things ever). Unlike the aforementioned book, this one is a work of fiction…kind of. It is very loosely based on parts of Moran's own life- her poor upbringing in a large family in working class 1980's Britain, her teenage angsts (being overweight and desire to lose her virginity) and her career as a music journalist at the tender age of nineteen. The literary version of herself in the book, Johanna Morrigan, reinvents herself by leaving school, listening to all the music she can get her hands on, getting a job at a snide music review magazine, having sex with as many people as possible and overall, creating an image of the person that she thinks she should be. In spite of the fact that I found the beginning a bit slow and that parts of it were familiar from Moran's previous work, I still really enjoyed this book. It manages to be poignant, hilarious and cringe-inducing simultaneously and although she finds herself in some unusual situations, I think there's something in Johanna's story that everyone who was once a teenage girl can relate to. 

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
This is a YA novel about teenager Mia, a musically gifted young woman who has been struggling with a decision- whether to take a place in prestigious college Juilliard or stay with her boyfriend Adam whom she loves deeply. That is until she's involved in a devastating road traffic accident and now must decide whether or not to return from the brink of death. From the accident onwards, the book is told from the perspective of an in-limbo Mia; she can see herself being worked on by surgeons but can't feel anything. She can hear what's said to her by the nurses and her loved ones around her ICU bed but she can't communicate back. And although she doesn't know why this is happening she begins to realise that the biggest decision she'll ever have to make- whether or not to stay alive and to keep trying has been left with her. You can be sure I cried my eyes out at this one. I sobbed, actually. Himself tried to take the book away from me at one stage, I was so distraught. If that's your type of thing then this isn't a bad read at all. It's a little simplistic at times but I thought it was an interesting perspective on what makes us human and what keeps us alive. I may yet watch the film version…I'm not sure my poor emotions can take it though.

Nightingales On Call by Donna Douglas
It's now 1937 and the Nightingale student nurses are finishing up their training. We meet some new students and as with previous books in the series, we learn more about what makes the current characters tick. This one was only released this year so I have none left to read (other than a Christmas special) although I'm sure there'll be another one as it's getting closer to WW2 and there's a pretty big hint at the end of the book that they'll all be back working in the hospital again. Yay!

Have you read any of these? Reading anything good at the moment?


  1. Loved Yes Please, it was such a refreshingly honest read! And to find out what happens behind the scenes of SNL was cool.

    1. Yeah, I loved all of that stuff too and her stories about her co stars on parks and rec!

  2. I haven't read any of these but How To Build A Girl is on my list!