Yes Please by Amy Poehler is a hilarious biography full of anecdotes from Poehler’s time on “Parks and Recreation” and “Saturday Night Live”, as well as stories from her everyday life from both before she became a big star and after she gained fame. If you’ve seen Poehler in anything, then you know that her comedy comes fierce and fast, sometimes catching you off guard in regards to topic and delivery. This book is no different.
I chose to listen to this biography through OverDrive and was not disappointed. Poehler narrates this book, along with several other big name actors and, of course, her parents, popping in for cameos. (Looking for another funny woman biography narrated by the author? Check out Tina Fey’s Bossypants, available as a CD audiobook and an OverDrive eaudiobook.) Each person she has helping her narrate adds another level of humanity and unbridled hilarity to Poehler’s life growing up and her changing career in comedy as she worked to get to where she is today.
Poehler pulls no punches in this biography, talking about subjects ranging from growing up in the 70s, tips on how to deal with being nominated for an award, odes to different coworkers, sex, love, babies, divorce, family, parenthood, and her hilarious relationship with Tina Fey. This humorous book gives readers an all-access pass into Poehler’s life, allowing us to catch a glimpse into the crazy world of Saturday Night Live, letting us see how difficult it is to become a successful comedian, and just how crazy life is.
Poehler travels back to the 1990s, when she was in her 20s, working at ImprovOlympic in Chicago and then with the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York. She talks about her previous jobs and her struggle to make it. I highly recommend you listen to the audiobook because you get access to bonus material, as well as extra insight into her life from her many famous friends who make cameos. Choosing to do this book as an audiobook really lets Poehler’s creative talent shine as she weaves together both stories of success and failure to deliver her thoughts on anything and everything. Let us know what you think!
This book is also available in the following formats:
Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler is a modern retelling of the classic Shakespeare play, The Taming of the Shrew. Initially I picked this book to listen to through OverDrive for two reasons: the cover looked interesting and it was available for checkout. I’m glad I checked this out. This was very quick to listen to, the characters are all excellently developed, and the narrator hooked me in.
In this retelling, Kate Battista lives with her father, Dr. Louis Battista, and her younger teenage sister, Bunny. Kate works as a nursery school assistant, takes care of the family house, and has watched her younger sister ever since their mother’s early death. Dr. Battista, a research scientist studying autoimmune disorders, is eccentric to sat the least. His compulsiveness shines through in his work and the way he wants Kate to run the house. Everyone’s laundry is done on a different day of the week, Bunny has to follow her father’s behavior rules 100%, and meal prep is down to a specific science. Kate follows her father’s computer-generated grocery list and makes the family’s “meat mash” at the beginning of the week, a less-than-appetizing-sounding food concoction that contains all necessary nutrients that they then eat for the rest of the week.
Dr. Battista has gone through a number of different lab assistants, the current one, Pyotr Shcherbakov, being his favorite. Pyotr is apparently a star scientist from Russia that Dr. Battista, who is equally famous in Russia, was lucky to get. Unfortunately for everyone, Pyotr’s three-year work visa is about to expire, meaning he will be deported back to Russia unless he marries an American girl. Dr. Battista has the perfect girl in mind for Pyotr: his oldest daughter, Kate, who has never turned down any of his crazy schemes before. This retelling of Shakespeare’s classic veers from the powerful emotions in the original, but is a delightful and positive retelling that leaves readers wondering what will happen between Kate, Pyotr, and her father? Will his research be successful? Will Kate and Pyotr get married? Will the meat mash ever change? Tyler’s quirkiness adds a new level to this classic Shakespeare, something that will have readers clamoring for more.
This book is also available in the following formats:
There are many other clever adaptations of The Taming of the Shrew, some of them you may not realize. Check out this list of my favorite adaptations (and call the library for more suggestions!).
The history and stories of the Presidents of the United States of America and their First Ladies fascinate many Americans. When we discuss their history, our personal politics seem to melt away as we are drawn in by the struggles and turmoil that each of these individuals faced during their time at The White House. As ordinary citizens of this country, we cannot fathom what it is like to live in a political fishbowl where every word and gesture can be misconstrued. Throughout our nation’s history, the press has closely followed the President. Some of the First Ladies have been treated worse by the press than their male counterparts. There was a time when the press did not follow any ethical guidelines and many times, stories about the President and the First Lady were fabricated. While this appalling, it is evidence that Americans have always been interested in the First Family.
Over the years, NPR has had several guests speak about the First Ladies of the United States of America on their radio programs. Included in this list are historians, authors, actors and the First Ladies themselves. In this CD compilation, NPR has included stories from our first First Lady, Martha Washington until our present First Lady, Michelle Obama. For many of the latest First Ladies, listeners can hear interviews with the women themselves and hear the First Ladies discuss issues and voice their own opinions. NPR also included voice recordings of former First Ladies which is quite fascinating. I expected Eleanor Roosevelt’s voice to be lower and more authoritative so I was quite surprised to hear her speak in her very proper ladylike manner. Jacqueline Kennedy can be heard talking to Arthur Schlesinger four months after her husband was killed. It was also quite entertaining to hear Lady Bird Johnson give LBJ notes on how he should speak to reporters. LBJ defensively tells her, “they get mad at you if you waste their time”.
Many of the Founding Mothers are discussed at length as well. Abigail and John Adams have over 1200 letters on file so a lot is known about her. Many years of their marriage was spent living apart which must have been a hardship for Abigail. There are only three letters that survive between the Washingtons. George ordered Martha to burn their letters after he died in order to keep their private lives private. What few people realize is that Martha lived in the military camps with George. She was a favorite among the soldiers. Sally Field discusses playing Mary Todd Lincoln. Field read all the letters that the Lincolns wrote to one another in order to help her prepare for the role. An interesting note about The White House when Lincoln took office is that there were literally livestock on the first floor. Mary believed that The White House was something that Americans should be proud of so she spent money making the place look better. Of course, the press criticized her for this because she spent too much money.
A fun part of this recording is the discussion on the former First Ladies’ ball gowns. At the time of the recording, there was a display at the Smithsonian Museum featuring the First Ladies’ gowns. Most of the gowns that were described were the dresses for the Inaugural Bowl. The gowns reflect the fashion of the time and the economics of the time. The third time that Franklin Roosevelt was elected, they canceled the ball due to the Great Depression. Women in the crowd at the Smithsonian talk about which gowns they would and would not wear and little girls giggle at the poofy sleeves.
First Ladies is a fun way to learn about the First Ladies of the United States and is appropriate for the whole family!
Actress Drew Barrymore is anything but conventional. So it comes to no surprise that her book is unconventional as well. Instead of writing a memoir, Drew wrote a book of stories of her life; stories that she wanted to revisit and share with the world. And her stories are not placed in chronological order. One story will be about being a mother, the next one she talks about her time on the set of E.T. As Ms. Barrymore writes herself in the preface, “This is a book you can dip into and read when you want”. And it truly is. You could put Wildflower down and not read it for awhile, but come across it again and be delighted with the stories. Or, you could binge read Wildflower and learn more about Drew Barrymore. The choice is really up to you. Either way, this biography truly is a book of stories that are very fun to read.
I chose to listen to Wildflower on a recent roadtrip. Drew narrates the book herself and I loved listening to her read. My favorite part may have been when she was describing her childhood after filming E.T. Her mother decided to move to “the Valley” and Drew blames her mother for giving her the “Valley Girl” voice that she cannot seem to get rid of. This happens early in the book, so for the rest of the duration of the audiobook, I would catch myself laughing at her “Valley Girl” voice when she said certain phrases. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Drew Barrymore read (and sometimes scream and sometimes laugh) her own book.
Drew Barrymore has certainly led an interesting life. She started acting when she was a toddler and describes going on auditions as a child and meeting Steven Spielberg. Drew talks about legally separating herself from her mother when she was a teenager. She discusses being a Barrymore and her relationship with her father. She talks about travelling as a teenager. Drew discusses producing and starring in movies. And she discusses being a mother. Perhaps the sweetest story in the book is towards the end. Drew discusses meeting her husband’s parents, Arie and Coco and how she hit the “In-Law Jackpot”. She has such a good relationship with her in-laws that she asked Arie to walk her down the aisle and for Coco to walk in with her husband. It is quite clear that the theme of the book Wildflower is Drew Barrymore’s relationships with other people; her family, her friends, her co-stars, and the people that have touched her life.
Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline is a gut-wrenching book that begins by introducing Jake Whitmore, his son Ryan, and Jake’s wife, Pam. Tensions seem to be running high in the Whitmore family, stemming from Jake’s loss of job a year ago. The family bore the brunt of his frustration and as a result, Ryan distanced himself from his father and became closer with his mother. Jake and Pam went into therapy to rebuild their relationship. Their current focus is on bringing Ryan and Jake closer together.
Jake is sent to pick up Ryan from the movies when they get into a car accident. This accident threatens the stability of their family and the tenuous relationships that hold them all together. Ryan’s future is on the line and in a split-second, Jake makes a decision that saves his son from a disastrous future. While at the time this seems like the best decision, it instead sends them both down a dark spiral of secrets, lies, and immense guilt. Jake thinks he has everything under control, but someone emerges from the woodwork with the power to destroy his carefully laid plans and expose Jake and Ryan’s dark secret. That life changing accident holds the power to destroy all their lives and Jake is struggling to hold the family together. This book is an intensely powerful guilt-laden journey into the lives of a family who are trying to redeem themselves while their whole world is unraveling around them.
This book is also available in the following formats:
Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of hotels? What the front desk attendant, concierge, bellman, or housekeeping person is thinking as they check you in, follow you around, or clean up your room? Having spent a fair number of my summer vacations in hotel rooms, I was curious as a child what these people actually did at work and what they thought of everyone they came in contact with on a daily basis. Lucky for me, I found just the book to ease my curiosity: Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality.
Heads in Beds is written by Jacob Tomsky, a pseudonym the author adopted to keep his anonymity since he was, and is still, a member of the hotel industry at the time this book was released. Every hotel he worked for, as well as every person he worked with and each hotel guest, has a pseudonym, allowing Tomsky to go into great detail about everything that happens behind the scenes of hotels.
This book is a hilarious ride through Tomsky’s journey from a valet to manager to front desk attendant. Want to know how to get an upgrade? Tomsky tells you. How to get a late check out? Tomsky again. What about those pesky mini-bars and in-room movie fees? Tomsky knows all about those. He is full of tips and tricks about how to make the most out of whatever hotel stay you’re experiencing. Check out this book for glimpses into the inner workings of the hospitality business, what valets really do in your car, what goes on in empty rooms, and even why you should never turn down a bellman’s help.
This book is also available in the following formats:
Acclaimed chefs and cookbook authors the world over have come together to help food relief efforts to alleviate the suffering of Syrian refugees in Soup for Syria. Each has contributed a recipe to this beautifully illustrated cookbook of delicious soups from around the world. Contributors include: Yotam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi, Anthony Bourdain, Alice Waters, Paula Wolfert, Claudia Roden, Chef Greg Malouf, Chef Alexis Coquelet, Chef Chris Borunda, Chef Alexandra Stratou, Necibe Dogru, Aglaia Kremenzi, and many others.
– Celebrity chefs contribute favorite recipes to help feed Syrian refugees
– Fabulous soups from around the world-from hearty winter warmers to chilled summer soups
– Easy-to-follow instructions with stunning color photos throughout
– Recipes made with no-fuss ingredients found in your local supermarket
All profits from the sales of the cookbook will be donated to help fund food relief efforts through various nonprofit organizations. Most Syrians hope that one day they will be able to return to their country and rebuild their lives. (description from publisher)
The Basson King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy by Rainn Wilson
If you watched the television show, The Office, (the American version) you will remember Dwight Schrute. Dwight was the nerdy coworker that irritated his coworkers with comptetiveness and his lack of social skills. His coworkers Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly could not resist from pulling pranks on Dwight which delighted the rest of the staff. Dwight also owned the family beet farm and he later turned the farmhouse into a bed and breakfast.
Now, the actor portraying Dwight Schrute has published a memoir of his life. Wilson describes his geeky childhood, or in his own words, “bone-numbingly nerdy before there was even a modicum of cool attached to the word.” Rainn talks about his life as a drama geek or as he describes it, “the highest rung on the vast, pimply ladder of high school losers”. Wilson talks about his life as a struggling actor in New York, his episodes of debauchery (but he was not that bad), and how he came to have the sense of humor that we know and love him for today. His fans will be delighted with his tales and insights from working on The Office.
The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy is available in print and on audiobook. Rainn Wilson narrates the audiobook and the forward is by Dwight Schrute so I would recommend listening to the audiobook.
Eligible is Iowa Writer’s Workshop graduate Curtis Sittenfeld’s fifth novel. It is a hilarious modern version of the classic story Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
In Eligible, we find that the Bennet family lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. All five of the Bennet women are currently living at their parent’s home after their father’s recent heart attack. Jane and Elizabeth have both been living in New York City. Jane is a yoga instructor and lives on the Upper East Side. Lizzie has been writing for feminist fashion magazine and lives in Brooklyn. Mary has never left home and is working on her third online master’s degree. Kitty and Lydia also live at home and spend most of their time at CrossFit workouts. Mrs. Bennet is consumed with her ladies’ clubs and galas.
Of course, as in the original novel, Mrs. Bennet is very concerned with her daughters being married. The Bennet family goes to a Fourth of July picnic, where they meet Chip Bingley. Mr. Bingley was recently the star on the television show, Eligible which is a dating show where 25 women try to convince the star to marry her. Also at the picnic, is Fitzwilliam Darcy whom Lizzie does not find charming. But first impressions can be wrong.
An updated and hilarious version of the classic Pride and Prejudice. You will find yourself laughing out loud while reading this book. Available in print, large print and audiobook.
If you enjoyed Pride and Prejudice, you might also like these other adaptations:
Phil Kaufman is an American record producer, tour manager and author. He began his career as an actor and had small parts in Spartacus, Pork Chop Hill and Riot in Juvenile Prison. His acting career ended when he was arrested for marijuana smuggling. While he was in jail, he met the infamous Charles Manson. After Kaufman was released from prison, he got a job driving for Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull. At the time, Jagger was living in Los Angeles mixing the album Beggars Banquet. This was the beginning of Phil’s career in music. Mick Jagger referred to Kaufman as his “executive nanny”.
In Legend of the Road Mangler, Kaufman (who narrates the audiobook) talks about his adventures while he was on the road with the Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa, Gram Parsons, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Joe Cocker, Etta James, Emmylou Harris, Rosanne Cash, Marty Stuart, Nanci Griffith, and others. Phil Kaufman is well known for stealing the body of Gram Parsons and burning it in Joshua Tree National Monument. Phil tells the story as only he can tell it. Included are the voices of the artists that know him best.
This audiobook is four hours long and it is great for a road trip! Music fans will love the stories about what goes on behind the scenes with their favorite bands and artists.