I generally try not to review two lady memoirs in a row (for variety’s sake, if not to avoid alienating my strong contingent of ultramasculine readers) but when an advance copy of Amy Poehler’s Yes Please falls into one’s lap, one does not let opportunity pass them by. One does spend all of Sunday eating mozzarella sticks in bed while laugh/cry/nodding at Poehler’s engaging, insightful and overall A+ addition to the Lady Library, whose other contributors (Fey, Kaling, Silverman, Griffin, Dunham) have graced Sorry Television in the past. One does, after spilling marinara sauce on one’s pillow and accidentally eating a mozzarella stick the cat licked, ruminate on whether one is in fact living her life to the fullest—engaging in behavior likely to engender the sort of chance encounters, dedicated friendships and hard-won professional achievements Poehler documents in her book. One does, briefly, regret not having been a teenager in the 80s, for the #tbt photo possibilities alone. One does, not briefly, feel proud to be a woman.
It would be wrong to try and rank the titles in the Lady Library from best to worst, or funniest to least funny, or most predictable to most surprising. It feels barely not wrong to call it the Lady Library, and I only do so because those books above are in many ways about being female, in a male-dominated world (comedy, Hollywood, America, Earth), and with all the assumptions and expectations womanhood implies. But if I had to rank the ladybooks, like if someone put a gun to my head and said “Quick! What’s your favorite female comedian’s memoir?”—I dunno, it could happen—I’d have to call it a tie: Between, naturally, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.
Alright, so maybe I slacked off a little. MAYBE, instead of spending the last week writing book reviews with all the gusto of a person with nothing to do except eat takeout and watch old sitcoms, I instead just ate takeout and watched old sitcoms. I’ll admit it, I fell off the wagon a bit.
Fortunately, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading. In fact, I spent most of Christmas Eve Eve hunkered down in a ForeverLazy with my grandmother’s memoir, interrupted only by my mother popping in to berate me for bothering to read it (the memoir is, for the record, just as poorly written as I suspected, and just as unintentionally hilarious.) I spent the train ride to my mom’s house reading Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, and the train ride back reading The Sibling Effect, a Christmas gift from said mom. I spent most of last week on The Night Eternal, the third and final installment of the Guillermo del Toro/Chuck Hogan collaboration (which actually inaugurated this blog) and most of this week (so far) on Bag of Bones, a Stephen King novel that was recently turned into a (hopefully good because I recorded it) made-for-TV movie on A&E.
…he totally won’t understand because mice can’t read (with the exception of Ratatouille, Fievel and possibly Stuart Little.) But if you give a person a book, well, that makes way more sense.
I will be the first to admit: Gifting books can be something of a stressful task. A book is a large time investment (relative to movies and music); plus, what if you’re wrong about what someone might like? What if they ultimately hate something you loved? What if they already own the book, or don’t like reading hardcovers or have been secretly illiterate for 20+ years and survive only by memorizing restaurant menus and pretending to hate the Internet? These are the things I worry about.
Now, I have yet to read every book in the known universe, but I’m obviously getting pretty close and it’s time I put my knowledge to use. So here are Sorry Television’s recommendations for this year’s book gifting. Because if your friends are secretly illiterate, you should at least give them something good to not understand.
I mean, it’s not like I wasn’t going to like Bossypants. Chmon. I pre-ordered this book the minute I heard about its existence, as I’ve spent the better part of the last few years idolizing Tina Fey as both creator and star of 30 Rock. Friends of mine know I’ve long felt a kinship with Liz Lemon. Frumpy dresser? Check. Devoted fan of junk food, with an emphasis on items whose key ingredient is cheese or cheese-flavored? Check. Inability to translate motivated responsible work persona into personal life? Check. Unabashed fan of reality television? Double freaking check.
So I was a little surprised when about 50 pages into Bossypants, a subtle theme was emerging. This book was…kind of about being a woman. About being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field (comedy, not television) a theme I’ve only recently read about in another enjoyable lady memoir: Kathy Griffin’s (who, ironically, is given a bit of a shout-out in Bossypants: “If you could turn gay from being around gay people, wouldn’t Kathy Griffin be Rosie O’Donnell by now?”) Yes, this book was just a little bit about how even the suggestion that Tina Fey being a successful boss is something worth highlighting inadvertently separates her from the legions of unhighlighted male bosses who have come before her, as though signing paychecks with a vagina is like a dog walking on its hind legs.