Every year, it seems the market is flooded with books by celebrities. Autobiographies, stories, cookbooks – there could be a whole section of the bookstore devoted to books by that guy from…/the lady who…/the star of…. as with any genre or group of books, it’s a mixed bag of quality, but there are gems to be found, and I always sit up and take notice when an actor, singer, or other creative I admire releases a book (same goes for great sportspeople, journalists, bloggers, businesspeople, and chefs). Some of my favorite books of recent years have sprung from the pens (or perhaps the keyboards?) of folk I knew for something else entirely.
But back to The Year of Yes. Shonda Rhimes is the uber-famous creator/showrunner of the Shondaland stable of programmes- Grey’s Anatomy, How To Get Away With Murder, and my personal favourite, Scandal. Hugely professionally successful, she has a come to Jesus moment over just how she’s living her life over thanksgiving meal prep with her sister. Spurred on by this, Shonda resolves to change things up and embrace the power of YES, and this book is all about this journey.
And what a journey it is. Rhimes is a gifted writer, as her hugely successful TV career would suggest, but in this autobiographical setting it’s a great tone she sets – charming, conversational, deep, with just enough silly to lighten the mood when necessary. This is a book about saying yes to yourself, yes to life, and Rhimes emerges happier, healthier, and more at peace with herself than ever.
It’s a premise that I’ve read before (most memorably in Danny Wallace’s Yes Man), but this book opened up some new ideas and was full of energy and inspiration. Some chapters spoke to me hugely, and throughout the book I was entertained and diverted. The parts on health and weight loss and being fat personally gave me a tonne of food for thought, if you’ll forgive the unintentional pun; and the chapter on friendship made me both grateful for the friends I’ve have and the friends I’ve had. Truly people enter our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
Just as she sprinkles her magic on Thursday night television schedules, Shonda Rhimes brings a lot of wit, intelligence and humour to the page. I whipped through the book in under 48 hours (hey, when I like a book, I really like a book!), but I just know it’s the kind of book I’ll be returning to again. And gifting to several of my friends, too. A great, warm, honest read in the vein of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)