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Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person Hardcover – November 10, 2015
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An Amazon Best Book of November 2015: I usually shy away from books with titles like Year of Yes – hokey, I think, or glib. Besides, I don’t need a self-help manual; I like to take my self-empowerment lying down, on the couch. Except… except that Rhimes, the creator/producer of such intelligent TV shows as Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal is not only wiser, funnier, and cooler than your average therapist – she’s also been there, if “there” is the land of the angry, scared and emotionally dysfunctional. Never mind that she graduated from Dartmouth, is a proud and loving mother to her three kids, AND owns Thursday night TV, Rhimes was a mess until her sister made a chance remark at Thanksgiving – “You never say Yes to anything.” That’s when Rhimes decided not only to face her fears but to hug the life out of them. (OK, so some of her fears involve wearing a Carolina Herrera dress, gorgeous shoes and showing up at a star-studded benefit… but hey, fears is fears.) Rhimes found that saying Yes sometimes, paradoxically, also meant saying no, too – as in, and this is my version, Yes, I want to be a thin person. No I don’t want to eat a whole pecan pie in one sitting because I’m more lonely than hungry. She also discovered that self-acceptance doesn’t always go smoothly: as she pithily observes, sometimes the people who loved you when you were angry, dark and “twisty” don’t like to hang around when you lighten up. So what, she says. At least you’ve figured out how to live more or less happily ever after -- with yourself. – Sara Nelson
“Rhimes is, unsurprisingly, a fantastic memoirist: Her writing is conversational and witty and lyrical, inflected with the supple human breathiness you might expect from a person who spends her days writing dialogue. It features lots of great punchlines…It features occasional, chatty, second-person asides…[It] is also in many ways a side-door self-help book…[with] pieces of advice that concern not just Rhimes’s readers, but everyone. …Year of Yes is a book about the shifts taking place in Hollywood right now,and in the world right now, in the guise of a friendly memoir. It is, like Shondaland itself, making a statement. It is insisting that it is time for the people who used to be invisible to come forward and be seen.”
“Revealing and delightful.”
— New York Daily News
“There’s real value in the experiences Rhimes shares… When, for example, she discusses learning to take better care of herself, the memoir feels honest, raw and revelatory.”
— The Washington Post
“A sincere and inspiring account of saying yes to life…Rhimes tells us all about it in the speedy, smart style of her much-loved TV shows. She's warm, eminently relatable, and funny… Like a cashmere shawl you pack just in case, Year of Yes is well worth the purse space, and it would make an equally great gift. Rhimes said "yes" to sharing her insights . Following her may not land you on the cover of a magazine, but you'll be glad you did.”
“If you enjoy the rapid-fire dialogue of her characters, reading this book will feel like home. Rhimes opens up, and inspires, discussing her personal experiences as a sister, daughter, mother, friend and boss tempered with biting insights on societal expectations of women…[a] blend of biography and badassery.”
“Rhimes guides the reader through her transformative yearlong experiment, each chapter dealing with a different personal challenge for herself, and she lets us deep inside her brain, carefully laying out all of her fears and self-doubt…candid and friendly, almost as if the two of you were catching up over drinks.”
“A mix of humor and conversational real talk…written with dashes of Oprah-esque inspiration but the no-B.S. frankness of, say, Dr. Cristina Yang from Grey's Anatomy…Even if Rhimes's fame and career don't make her an everywoman, she writes with an everywomanly sensibility…her words brim with such life that by the end of the book, some readers may find themselves wanting to say yes to more things, too.”
“Rhimes' familiar,conversational writing style makes the book a more accessible Lean In,a self-help book and personal journal all rolled into one.”
“Small, charmingly odd, inspirational stories…Quite simply, it's a book about how she learned to take care of herself, and how you might be able to as well. Welcome your new life coach, Shonda Rhimes.”
“A self-help book dressed in casual clothes, lessons for living a better life told through relatable personal essays from the woman who set out to, in the course of a year, make her own better… There’s an uncanny familiarity to the journey Rhimes goes on… Never do you feel preached at while reading Rhimes’s book. This woman of huge fame and fortune is speaking directly to you, and she’s doing it with familiarity, humor, and earned wisdom…Year of Yes is an awakening as much as it is a reckoning. Recognize the power of what you’ve been doing. Do more of it.”
— Daily Beast
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1) First off, unlike a lot of authors, she did not pre-seed Amazon with preselected reviewers hitting up all 5 stars and offering formulaic praise. When I signed on this morning there were 3 reviews versus the 20-30 replicant reviews you often see when a new book is released. Why? Because she doesn't need forced praise. The book is good. Very good. And like Shonda herself, it doesn't need fabricated self promotion but can stand on it's own merits.
2) She's funny. Like laughing out loud in public funny. Like people changing seats on the bus because you're smiling and snickering to yourself funny. Like spitting up coffee and pastry on the Kindle screen funny. You get the point.
3) In addition to being funny, she's pitch perfect in her capacity to convey authenticity, vulnerability, and confidence all within the same paragraph.
4) She's also wicked smart and genuinely compassionate. Sadly those two traits sometimes don't travel in pairs.
5) Her year of living fearlessly by fully stepping into her life and saying YES inspires because it shows that even a Shonda Rhimes can suffer from the "Who Me?" disease that afflicts so many women. Granted, Shonda needed to say yes to things like hanging out with the Obama's or being honored as a Human Rights Boss, but she brilliantly shows that despite the loftiness of her life, like many of us she too struggled with stepping into her well earned right to "stand in the sun" without fear or apology.
6) And like a good and righteous Queen, she shares the glow. She has done more than any other TV writer in history to celebrate, and as she says normalize, ALL human experiences by merely allowing people of all orientations, races, and ethnicities to BE and To do and say human things on television. Radical inclusiveness...what a concept.
I could go on, but really just read the book. Worth every ducket.
I first became aware of Shonda Rhimes because of Grey's Anatomy. From the first episode I was hooked. A few years ago I became a fan of How to Get Away With Murder. Side bar: Viola Davis is a master of her craft and she deserves all the awards! I still have yet to watch Scandal, but somehow I know I'll love it as well. So it's safe to say Rhimes knows how to write killer television series. And despite her epic dramas and phenomenal writing skills it was the title of her book that grabbed my attention: Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person.
One of the reasons the title grabbed my attention is because I had been saying no a lot. No to nights out with friends. No to events. No to my family. I felt overwhelmed by my responsibilities: work, school, mom, wife, trying to be everything to everyone. It's exhausting. Also, I'm an introvert. Which means I basically want to hide in my hobbit hole for days at a time. My husband is an extrovert as well as one of my children. And I think it's hard for them to understand why I need downtime. But I also felt guilty. Am I spending enough time with my kids, my husband? Should I be saying YES more?
So, on a cold December day I started Year or Yes. Shonda (I feel like we should be on a first-name basis now) describes how one little comment made by her sister led her to start her year of yes. Saying yes to things, especially things that scared her, was a liberating experience. It literally changed her life, her attitude, her way of living. Shonda doesn't hold back. She talks about her amazing family and friends, and how they helped her on her path to yes. No man or woman is an island and she gives credit where credit is due. I also like how she pointed out that sometimes we say yes to things by our actions that we should really be saying no to. By the end of the first chapter I was ready to start saying YES to more things in life. Now, I don't have Shonda's resources, so I still have to be choosy about when I say YES. Because this girl needs her sleep!
Year of Yes was narrated by the author as well. And I'm glad it was. Shonda has an easygoing conversational manner about her as if she's a friend about to give you some epic advice. So you might want to pour yourself a glass of wine and get comfortable. Year of Yes is inspirational, especially if you're not really feeling it these days. Shonda's vulnerability, humor, and journey will help you find the courage to say YES to life.