Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Brief Tour of Non-Fiction by Famous Women

For the past few months I have become obsessed with reading non-fiction books written by women in showbiz. I found them to be interesting, insightful, entertaining, and they also do quite a bit for feminism. I will review the books in the order that I read them.

I have to confess, for a while I thought Lena Dunham was a weirdo. I watched an episode of her show Girls and dismissed her entirely. Then one day I happened upon an interview with her and was proved wrong. I've watched other interviews with her since and discovered what an intelligent, funny woman she is with some great advice to give. I took another look at Girls and found it to be pretty fun, my favorite episode being Season 3, Episode 9, "Flo". Everyone should see that touching episode, even if they don't watch the series.

Her book contains many essays that are broken into sections about relationships, work, body, etc. Her writing is so well done, and it's probably the best out of all of these books. In her young age, Lena has experienced and accomplished many things. Even in her stories about childhood I got the sense that she was exposed to many things and was never naive. Unlike the other books on this list, Lena talks about everything (sex, therapy, views on death) and she bares it all without worry or shame about what it will do to her image. My favorite parts included the last section of "Girls & Jerks" and the chapter "I Didn't Fuck Them, But They Yelled at Me". Sorry for ever doubting you Lena, keep on going.

This book by Amy Poehler was my first of many audio books that would follow. I got to a point where if I was going to be in Houston traffic for an hour to work, I might as well listen to a book. I used (not sponsored) because the first book is free and you earn credits. I'm so glad I did! Out of all these books, this is the one to listen to on audio. Amy brings some friends in to read her book like Patrick Stewart, Carol Burnett, Mike Schur, and Seth Meyers. There is a lot of great banter between Seth and Amy as well as Mike and Amy that you would miss with just the hard copy of the book. There are also a few Parks and Rec clips in there.

I have had admiration for Amy since her days at SNL and it has grown since I've watched Parks and Recreation. Moments in her book are laugh out loud funny and other moments are incredibly wise. Her mantra, "good for you, not for me" has stayed with me and the chapters on her family and divorce are insightful. Her time spent on Tina Fey, Seth Meyers, and her Parks and Rec cast are wonderfully endearing. My favorite chapters are "My Books on Divorce" and "Give Me That Pudding". Out of them all, this book was my favorite, and I recommend it to everyone.

I was told to read this book by multiple people and it did live up to all the hype. Tina makes points about female comedians and feminism that truly need to be said. Hearing about her experience playing Sarah Palin on SNL is fascinating as well as interesting since she allows us to peek behind the curtain. I have a new appreciation for her as a person after hearing about how hard she worked as a writer on SNL, and a new mother while she was writing and starring in 30 Rock. Tina has a practical approach to life that makes her so relatable in her extraordinary circumstances. My favorite chapters are "That's Don Fey", the one about her magazine spread and her observations from when she was thin and when she was heavy. I listened to the whole book on a 7 hour car drive and laughed along with her words as I drove through Texas.

Mindy Kaling is my spirit animal. This is a proven fact and I will defend that statement. I love her as a writer and actress on The Office as well as The Mindy Project. Like women in all of these books, she stars in her own show, but she still has new and exciting things to say. Mindy has a beautiful quality in her book that all of us can identify with: she is incredibly vulnerable. She expresses the concerns she has had about comedy, failure, and defending your work. She has made some blunders in her past with her work and she's open about them. She also spends time addressing the fact that she is not Hollywood-thin and how people have treated her and dismissed her because of it. There is a moment where she is crying in a bathroom at a photo shoot, and I'm pretty sure that I punched my fist in the air when she explains how she handled the situation. Mindy has been an outsider many times in her life and her chapter about the weeks she wrote for SNL and Amy Poehler demonstrates a beautiful lesson on kindness. Her chapters on comedy are the most fascinating to me. You can tell from her words how truly obsessed she is with comedy. She brings up her top 5 list of comedic pieces and her least favorite. To sum it up, Mindy is the best and if you disagree it's because you didn't know that she created the Wreath Witherspoon.