Review: Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
Author: Shonda Rhimes
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2015
Format/Source: Hardback/From Publisher
The mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away With Murder chronicles how saying YES for one year changed her life―and how it can change yours, too.
With three hit shows on television and three children at home, the uber-talented Shonda Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say NO when an unexpected invitation arrived. Hollywood party? No. Speaking engagement? No. Media appearances? No.
And there was the side-benefit of saying No for an introvert like Shonda: nothing new to fear.
Then Shonda’s sister laid down a challenge: just for one year, try to say YES to the unexpected invitations that come your way. Shonda reluctantly agreed―and the result was nothing short of transformative. In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes chronicles the powerful impact saying yes had on every aspect of her life―and how we can all change our lives with one little word. Yes. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)
First, A Little Note…
I have a sad confession to make. Before reading Year of Yes, I had never watched Grey’s Anatomy or Scandal. I had watched How to Get Away With Murder (and LOVED it) but I feel like that’s just not the same. When you’re reading a book by Shonda Rhimes, you feel like a bit of a fraud if you haven’t watched her two most famous shows that she herself created. At least, I felt that way. But not to worry, I’ve since remedied this, and I am now on season 2 of Grey’s Anatomy. I never thought I’d watch that show because I am not a fan of gross, gory, bloody stuff, and I do have to look away quite a bit during the surgery scenes (and there are A LOT of those) BUT I am really captivated by the characters and their stories. I have also started Scandal but I think I’m going to hold off on that one for now so I can binge it later.
Now That We’ve Got That Out Into the Open…
I have to say that Year of Yes came at the perfect time for me. I got an email from Simon & Schuster, asking if I’d like to receive a copy of Year of Yes for review, and because I knew who Shonda Rhimes was (and because I LOVE How to Get Away With Murder, remember) I said yes. I received that email in early November and NaNoWriMo had just started, and I was still chugging along, loving my WIP and coming up with new book ideas left and right. And then, a week or so later, I hit a major snag in my writing. I was discouraged with everything I was writing, I was discouraged with blogging, I was discouraged with my online friends and IRL friends, thinking that they all just really didn’t like me and that I was just fooling myself when I thought that I was worthy of their friendship. I was discouraged with my weight. I was discouraged with basically everything. I thought that I might be falling into a depression. I have anxiety and panic disorder, and while I have been depressed before, it has been a LONG time and anxiety usually takes center stage for me.
So when I finished my previous read and picked up Year of Yes, it was kind of like the clouds were parting and rays of sunlight were shining down, saying “Yes, this is the book for you right now. Say YES to this book.” First of all, this book is full of humor. I found myself laughing out loud ALL THE TIME. And Shonda Rhimes gets a lot of my Bonus Points (50,000 points for Harry Potter references; 50,000 points for Willy Wonka references; 50,000 points for Doctor Who references; and 25,000 points for Game of Thrones references). But mostly, this book inspired me. With Shonda’s speech to the graduates at Dartmouth, her alma mater, she really made me realize that my dream of becoming a published author would never come to fruition if I didn’t sit down and DO. If I didn’t sit down and FINISH A FIRST DRAFT, and then EDIT THAT DRAFT OVER AND OVER AND OVER, I would never become a published author. I mean, yes, I’ve heard similar arguments before, and of course I knew that I had to sit and write to actually get a book published, duh. But Shonda made me realize that I needed to “Ditch the dream. Be a Doer, not a Dreamer.”
And you know what? That advice carries over into the rest of my life. I’m dreaming of having a more successful blog? I have to DO IT. WORK AT IT. (I’m still working at this, but at least I’m working at it, rather than just sitting there, feeling sad that my blog isn’t doing as well as I’d like.) I want to lose weight? DO IT. The hubs and I bought a treadmill and I’m drinking more water and I will eat better and I WILL LOSE WEIGHT. I’m feeling like my friends are not really my true friends? DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Either confront them about it, or realize that I’m just getting into my own head. Create friendships. Talk to people on Twitter, and don’t worry if they follow me or if they even tweet back. BE GENUINE. This is what I have to do now. DO IT, don’t just dream about it or worry about it.
And Shonda’s Year of Yes challenge carried over into all aspects of her life as well. She said Yes to spending more time with her children, even though she felt like she was already stretched too thin. She said Yes to her family, to her friends, to her publicists, to herself. And she found out that while saying No was the easy, safe choice, saying Yes allowed her to be her own person, and to live the life she deserved. And I’m definitely going to say Yes to that, for myself.
My rating for Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes:
5 HUGE stars. Thank you, Simon & Schuster, for sending me this book at the perfect time. And thank you, Shonda Rhimes, for your courage to say Yes, and for sharing your journey with us.