Today we are going to talk about March’s book of the month, Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. First let’s check out this book and see what it is all about.
In this poignant, hilarious, and deeply intimate call to arms, Hollywood’s most powerful woman, the mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder reveals how saying YES changed her life—and how it can change yours too. Before her Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes was an expert at declining invitations others would leap to accept. With three children at home and three hit television shows on TV, it was easy to say that she was simply too busy. But then, on Thanksgiving 2013, Shonda’s sister muttered something that was both a wake up and a call to arms: You never say yes to anything. The comment sat like a grenade, until it detonated. Then Shonda, the youngest of six children from a supremely competitive family, knew she had to embrace the challenge: for one year, she would say YES to everything that scared her.
This poignant, intimate, and hilarious memoir explores Shonda’s life before her Year of Yes—from her nerdy, book-loving childhood creating imaginary friends to her devotion to creating television characters who reflected the world she saw around her (like Cristina Yang, whose ultimate goal wasn’t marriage, and Cyrus Beene, who is a Republican and gay). It also chronicles her life after her Year of Yes had begun—when Shonda forced herself out of the house and onto the stage, appearing onJimmy Kimmel Live, and giving the Dartmouth Commencement speech; when she learned to say yes to her health, yes to play and she stepped out of the shadows and into the sun; when she learned to explore, empower, applaud, and love her truest self. This wildly candid and compulsively readable book reveals how the mega talented Shonda Rhimes, an unexpected introvert, achieved badassery worthy of a Shondaland character.
Questions to think about and/or answer:
- Shonda’s writing style is very informal. What effect, if any, did it have on your reading?Did it make the book challenging or easier to read?
- Can you think of a time when you let an opportunity slip away all because you couldn’t find the courage to say yes?
- Shonda writes that Cristina learns not to compromise who she is, she learned to be her own sun. I think every woman has struggled with this at some point in relationships, what’s your advice/story and how did you find the right balance?
- Shonda talks about the importance of being a doer, not a dreamer. She tells readers to “Do until you can do something else.” What advice would you give to someone to encourage them to put their dreams into action?
- In the book, the importance of being comfortable with who you are while also taking care of yourself is addressed. Did you have a point in your life where you decided it was time to start taking better care of yourself physically? How do you encourage someone in your life to start getting serious about their health?
- We are introduced to the concept of being a FOD, First Only Different. Being black or being a woman, you can find yourself being a FOD in your family, school, work, industry, social activities, etc. Are you a FOD? How?
- Shonda describes being at an event and noticing that not a single woman in the room could handle being told they are awesome. Why do you think women are reluctant to take glory in their achievements or appear arrogant even when they’ve earned it?
- “Everyone has greatness in them, you have to own it and mine it.” Have you figured out your greatness? Are you developing it?
- There are times in life where you might be excelling but others are not. “I am worried that people will think that maybe I think I am special.” How do you handle celebrating your own success in the face of your friend’s, significant others, or family member’s struggles?
- Shonda suggests that we are like mirrors. What do you think you are reflecting to others? How does your audience change the image you reflect?
- Who are your Ride or Dies, and what qualities do they possess that earned them that title?
- Despite being a product of a fifty-something year relationship and successful marriage, Shonda believes that marriage has nothing to do with love. She believes marriage is a financial partnership, and romantic love as a path to marriage is a foolish concept. What are your thoughts on marriage? Do you agree with Shonda? (Questions Submitted by Mocha Girl Classandra)
What did you think of The Year of Yes?
Mocha Girl Maya
I loved every minute of Shonda Rhime’s Year of Yes. I was amazed at how she was speaking to every situation that I am currently going through. I appreciate seeing an African American woman who happens to also be an introvert make such an enormous impact on the world and TV. It helps me believe that I can do anything I put my mind to. I just need to say YES! This is a book that had such great advice. I will definitely be picking it up in the future so I can highlight all of the little nuggets of wisdom that I found.
Mocha Girl Classy
This will be my second time reading the book. Rarely do I purchase a book after listening to the audio, but I HAD to buy this book so I could highlight and tag some pages. I read this book in December 2015 and have used some of Shonda’s insights to start off 2016 with a bang. Her Shonda-isms had me literally laughing out loud and thinking about things differently and most importantly on my OWN TERMS.I enjoyed how she chose to close out Cristina Yang’s story. Shonda mentions that Cristina character is very similar to herself. So she wrote the ending with hopes of being the woman she wanted to become in her life. It was as if she was learning more about herself and how to take care of herself as he wrote for Cristina’s character.