Posts tagged #book review

'Year of Yes' Highlights Power of Positivity

I just finished reading Shonda Rhime's book 'The Year of Yes' at 3 o'clock in the morning (I couldn't sleep, a rarity for me, and decided instead of being frustrated I would use that time). 

It was an easy and enjoyable read, which wasn't surprising as Ms. Rhimes is the creator and head writer for Grey's Anatomy and Scandal (along with being the executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder starring my girl crush Viola Davis). 

The premise of the title, which is the premise of the book itself, is that although Ms. Rhimes was a successful, award-winning creative professional, she rarely went out to any of the numerous events she was invited to. One day, her older sister said "You never say yes to anything" and the power and truth of that statement hit Shonda hard, very hard. So hard in fact that it shook her up and made her reassess her success and her reticence to enjoy it fully. She let the truth settle over her and after a little while came to the conclusion that she would change things by saying yes to everything thrown her way for one year. The Year of Yes. 

I don't want to spoil the book for anyone but will say that the experiences that she said yes to were inspiring and entertaining, as is her voice. This publication is a welcome edition to my library and has earned a spot there amongst equally liberated women as Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, Caitlyn Moran and Tina Fey. 

Ms. Rhimes is an empowered woman who writes shows and books that empower other women (and men). Among the strong and powerful statements she makes in this book are: 

I am raising strong feminist beings who love and believe in themselves.
I do not care about anyone else’s judgement about my body.
I believe that everyones body is theirs and everyone has a right to love their body in whatever size and shape and package it comes in.
Your body is yours. My body is mine. No ones body is up for comment. No matter how small, how large, how curvy, how flat. If you love you, then I love you.

While reading this book I realized that her commitment to the idea of saying yes to every invitation that came her way was relevant to me in my life. I have a confession to make...I have been in hiding (from who or what I do not know but I have definitely made myself less visible in the world by choice, declining invitations with lame excuses.) This is not serving me well. I am veal inasmuch as Shonda declared herself a year ago.

This book and its message have inspired me. I hope to follow Ms. Rhimes lead and get back out there in the world, reacquaint myself with my badassery and actually make a difference instead of just hash tagging my intentions with no follow through.

Thank you Shonda. Yes. Thank you. 

In conclusion, I would recommend this book to anyone who finds themselves avoiding potentially uncomfortable situations. Life is for living and as Shonda learned and shared, it's way more fun to say yes. 


Blueprints for Building Better Girls


I have found that one of the continuously reliable joys in life is that provided by a good book. The written word has the power to transport a person living here and now to another time, another place and view the world through the thoughts and eyes of another person(s) in a deep and meaningful way. Truth be told, some cherished authors and their works have become dear friends who have kept me company; inspired, engaged and appreciative of life on countless unhurried and quiet days.

Perhaps finding such quiet and unhurried moments remains the biggest obstacle to enjoying the rewards of some awesome prose. Reading is not a passive pursuit after all; it requires more attention that a 3-minute YouTube video or half-hour sitcom.  In order to gain comprehension the reader must commit to tune in and zone out. It is only by concentrating on the imagery and dialogue contained on the page that you can engage your mind with this new and unfamiliar vision.  With a gifted author you become connected and concerned about their characters on an emotional level.  That payoff, the emotional connection to the humanity within the pages, is highly absorbing and satisfying. 

I have just experienced such a delight from a book and feel compelled to share the source with you.  

★★★★★ Excellent book with sad and lyrical stories stitched together with great skill and mind-changing result. 

★★★★★ Excellent book with sad and lyrical stories stitched together with great skill and mind-changing result. 

Perhaps the finest short story collection I have ever had the good fortune to read is 'Blueprints for Building Better Girls' by Elissa Schappell. This compilation is a masterful weaving of different women's voices into a sisterhood of recognition and awakening. So many of the characters in this colourful assortment seem familiar, sometimes even a little too familiar as in I can see myself close family members in them. The stories are diverse through age and circumstance of life (college co-ed, career woman, new mother, empty-nest mother) and yet the theme of what it means to be a woman and how we are all connected flows through their tales. Many of the characters in these stories are inter-related ( the young woman in the sad and honest depiction of female friendship in "Elephant" is sister to the daughter in the mother and daughter dance with anorexia in 'The Joy of Cooking') which aids the understanding of how linked together we, and life, are.  The voices of the women in these tales are honest, endearing, ironic, and all with an underlying sadness. The more I read, the more enchanted I became of the writer's spectacular gift for subtly highlighting the nuanced differences in us which magically manages to make our similarities blinding.  I liked gaining the new perspective on love and relationships and recognizing the pattern within those on the written page and those in real life. In particular I thought of my niece who struggles with anorexia and my sister-in-law who bears that burden. 'The Joy of Cooking' was the most haunting story for me, especially this passage:

But it was always the same. The daughter battled the anorexia on her own. She was, everybody said it, a survivor. It was such an inspiration to see how she’d grown, like a pink flowering cherry tree, out of the cold barren soil of her childhood. She’d flourished. She’d blossomed. While in the eyes of the world, her mother, the poisonous root of all this evil would stay just that - a stone-hard immutable root buried in dirt. No one saw how much the mother hurt. No one knew, or cared, what she’d lost.

I realized I had been like the rest of the world and judged my own sister-in-law unfairly. I felt reprimanded and ashamed and must thank Ms. Schappel for providing this revelation for me to digest and act upon. There is no greater gift than learning a needed lesson. This book provides many insights why living wiser and kinder will triumph over all the bravado and bling. 

If you have the opportunity to read this book, I highly recommend it. 

Books are like can never have too many.  Grow a wild garden in your mind.

There's no such thing as too much information on things that matter. 

Smart wins.  

Peace, love and empowerment. 


Posted on November 21, 2014 and filed under news.