Birchbox Book Club: November 2014

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

I’m a member of the Birchbox book club.  Why?  I don’t know!  I keep asking myself that question.  So far, most of the books we’ve had have not been “up my alley” and this month’s read is not an exception.  This is my first blog post about any of them, though.

For November, we read Amy Poehler’s new book “Yes, Please.”  I purchased mine in Kindle format.

In all honesty, I know who Amy Poehler IS, but I haven’t really watched her comedy.  I don’t know if her humor is the type that I would particularly enjoy.  I haven’t watched Saturday Night Live in ages, and I may have seen one episode of Parks and Recreation (maybe).  Thus, this book is really an autobiography of a random stranger to me.  As such, the paths that people’s lives take are often interesting–we rarely end up following our planned routes–but biographies (or autobiographies) aren’t my favorite genre either.

Do I love the book? No.  Do I dislike the book? No.  I just can’t really relate to the story or the person particularly, and that may be because I’m a science geek, or perhaps due to a mismatch between humor styles (I find British comedies to be much more my preference, in terms of television).

In the continuing saga, on Tuesday I heard a story on NPR that actually mentioned the audiobook version and played a brief clip.  Nope.  Still not in love.  Didn’t laugh uproariously.  Didn’t even chuckle.  And I had read that part in the book, so no spoiler(s)…

In fairness, I finished the book on November 28.  I’m just now finishing this review because it was the end of the semester and as a teacher I had GRADING.

There was one chapter in this whole book that resonated with me: time travel.  There were some lines in this chapter that I could relate to: “Change is the only constant.  Your ability to navigate and tolerate change and its painful uncomfortableness directly correlates to your happiness and general well-being.”  Truth.  Change is the nature of the universe.  Human nature may not change, but relationships form and dissolve, break apart and burn, start and grow and deepen.  All of these happen throughout our lives.  I am not the same person that I was a decade ago.  I can recognize my high school self, but I doubt that self would recognize me.

In this chapter, Amy says she’s found a way to time travel, or to control time, with people, places, and things.  Her discussion of this is subtle in some ways: she is not as direct as I am.   Her perspective of this is also heavily influenced by our current understanding of happiness deriving from being “present”; from being “in the moment” and paying attention to the now rather than worrying about the past or the future.  This is a difficult thing to learn and perhaps an impossible way to live, as it only makes sense to reflect on and learn from the past and to plan for the future.

“…life is not fair or safe or even ours to own.” Also truth.  I frequently hear about “fair” and today the term seems to have become synonymous with “how I want things to be.”  That’s not how life works.  It will beat you down and kick you while you’re down and kick you while you’re up too.  It’s not fair, as some people never experience those things: some never experience rape, or murder, or love.  That’s life.  We have little choice but to accept it and move on.

 

Do these really enable us to time travel?  In a sense, yes.  Those people, places, things, can transport us back in time and enable us to relive moments or events.  To treasure those memories.  To view things from another perspective and adjust our idea of reality now.  Sometimes, we may be able to briefly glimpse and inhabit a potential future, live in it for a while.  But it doesn’t last, you see.  Any more than books do.

 

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