'Yes Please' pleases


By Erin Schultz (@erischultz)
Confession: I think a lot of books are boring. Maybe it’s my extremely specific taste, or possibly my inability to focus on anything besides an episode of How I Met Your Mother for more than 45 minutes, but I usually cannot sit down and read a book. The majority of my book reports in middle school were written without reading the book. There is nothing I want more than the ability to romanticize and enjoy classic literature. This is a curse.
However, when I find a good book, I become obsessive. I set aside all prior responsibilities and devote my entire day to said book. This happened yesterday.
The genius Amy Poehler released her autobiography, Yes Please, last year consisting of three parts: Say whatever you want, Do whatever you like, and Be whoever you are. If I had known each part had a motivational quote as its title, I would’ve read this book earlier. The one thing necessary to sustain human life is truisms.
The book is surprisingly personal — Poehler talks about her divorce, childbirth, drugs, “the biz” and her children’s affinity for watching the moon. However, it’s not boring. There’s an entire chapter called “My books on divorce” in which Poehler spouts off hypothetical self-help book names. An example? “The Holidays are Ruined! This book is one page long and just contains that one sentence.”
Poehler also shares intimate and interesting details about her seven years on Saturday Night Live. Apparently Lorne Michaels paid for her to get her teeth fixed and there was a lot of crying on set. Specifically crying to laughing within a span of five seconds. Poehler says, “Going from crying to laughing that fast and hard happens maybe five times in your life, and that extreme right turn is the reason why we are alive, and I believe it extends our life by many years.” This is perhaps where I decided that this is one of my favorite books.
I also have decided, since reading Yes Please, that Amy Poehler is a wise person. One may not conclude this by watching her impersonate Hillary Clinton, but it is very apparent in her book. One specific mantra I will probably repeat too often and annoy my friends with is “emotions are like passing storms, and you have to remind yourself that it won’t rain forever.” Actually, I’d hope they wouldn’t be annoyed because that is truly very comforting.
Aside from the tear-jerking lessons and behind the scenes stories from SNL, Poehler dedicated a part of the book to Parks and Recreation. She wrote a complete history of the show and Mike Schur, the creator, left footnotes in the margins to give a different perspective. The most touching was a paragraph about each cast member and her favorite moments on set with them, a fun fact about them and the time she laughed the hardest with them. She even snuck in pieces of the script and the original brainstorm list of possible character names for what became Leslie Knope. They should’ve gone with “Leslie Kneugenic.”
Poehler’s colorful book may not appeal to everyone, but the copy I checked out from the library is totally torn up. It almost fell apart while I was reading, so I can assure you it’s well-loved. If you want a book that’s probably been described as “feel-good” and “fuzzy” by professional critics, this is it. But if you don’t agree with me, that’s OK. Take it from the empowering Poehler herself: “That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.”