First of all, these are three books, all by comedic females, all read by the authors, and all full of hilarious insight into their lives, careers, and daily struggles. I would not classify any of these books as true biographies, but rather as collections of essays.
“Decide what your currency is early. Let go of what you will never have. People who do this are happier and sexier.” -Amy Poehler
This was one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read (listened to) in a very long time. The book itself focuses on certain parts of Poehler’s life told in an order that shows her growth as a person rather than in chronological order. Other parts of the book are essays about random things from the first female president, drugs she’s tried, and reminiscing about cast members of Park and Recreation. She features guest readers like Seth Meyers, Sir Patrick Stewart, and Kathleen Turner.
Poehler’s writing about her life is honest and often much more profound than fans might expect. Many of her essays focus on being a woman in the comedy world, as well as learning to love the craft (any craft) and how that can help you be better at whatever it is that you do. Poehler talks to you like you are a friend who is asking for help being a better person and her advice is savvy, direct, and smart.
Despite being a comedian for a living, I would not classify Yes Please as a humorous book. There are definitely parts that are funny but it’s a book about all aspects of life. I would not suggest this book for those who are not very familiar with Poehler’s work because some of the anecdotes will be lost on you, particularly those from Saturday Night Live or Parks and Recreation.
YOU CAN’T TOUCH MY HAIR
“We do not choose our circumstances, the prejudices that we inherit, or our privilege or lack of it.” -Phoebe Robinson
I decided to listen to You Can’t Touch My Hair after reading a blurb about it from a Book Riot newsletter email. I wasn’t familiar with Robinson’s work going in (she’s a fervent podcaster and stand-up comedian) but it sounded interesting and it had been getting a lot of buzz so I decided to check it out.
I had mixed feelings about Robinson’s book and narration style. I can appreciate the realness that an author brings to reading their own essay collection (see above), however, despite being a millennial myself, I feel like it gets old hearing someone constantly reverting to LOL speak or saying something is “adjective AF”. Maybe it’s because I know this will age the book incredibly quickly (this book was released in October 2016 and some of the references already felt dated), but also it just gets mentally exhausting.
That complaint aside, I did enjoy You Can’t Touch My Hair. Robinson spends a lot of time discussing her childhood and the difficulties of growing up as one of the only black people in school. She also talks extensively about the time and effort that goes into caring for black hair. As a middle-class white female who barely wears makeup or does anything to my own hair, it was an incredibly interesting insight into a world that I did not fully grasp. As the saying goes, I didn’t really know what I didn’t know.
Robinson also talks about her life as both a black and female comic and the amazing and difficult things that go along with both of those classifications. She’s poignant and fierce and it makes her very relatable.
Talking As Fast as I cAn
“There’s more comedy in failure than in success, and it’s a much more universal language.” -Lauren Graham
If you have any love whatsoever for Gilmore Girls, then you need to listen to this book on audio. It is like hanging out with Lauren Graham and talking about work and life. She is so incredibly personable and fresh to listen to.
Graham’s book mostly details her working life, starting off with her childhood and (attempting) to get into acting. She also includes a PDF file of photos that she references while reading. This is fun when you’re at home but if, like most audiobook listeners, you listen while driving, this can be a little annoying (only because you want to view the photos and can’t and then forget what the context is when you actually get to look at them).
Graham’s anecdotes about life and work are entertaining, intelligent, humble, and sweet. The humor that many fans see in Lorelai won’t be disappointed because that wasn’t all amazing writing on the part of Amy Sherman-Palladino, Graham really does inhabit that quick wit when she speaks.