12 Brilliant Gems from Amy Poehler’s New Book ‘Yes Please’

I flew through Amy Poehler’s inspired, hilarious, addictive, irreverent, absorbing book — Yes Please — over two busy days. Like Linus dragging his trusty blue blanket, I carried it everywhere I went. I read half a chapter in line at the grocery store, and another as my pal got our second round of teas, and later while I waited for a tray of cupcakes to rise, and much later (let’s be real: two cupcakes later), beside my cat, hidden under a mountain of fleece throws.

Each chapter, in its own way, showcases Poehler’s infamous wit, while also revealing her big heart, as she exposes personal vulnerabilities and even a few less-than-flattering anecdotes, all in the spirit of sharing and learning. And that’s what many reviews, I’ve since found, missed about Yes Please. While its playful structure kept me flipping the pages, and its smart humor charmed me, and its juicy Hollywood name-dropping piqued my interest, its authentic and applicable wisdom was what compelled me to devour this book; it’s what made it more than funny, more than entertaining, it made it meaningful. So meaningful, in fact, I’m now comfortable answering these questions:

Would I like Amy Poehler as my big sister? Yes please.

Next-door neighbor? Yes please.

Gal pal? Yes please.

Life coach? Yes please.

Fairy godmother? Yes please.

Since Yes Please is (most likely, but keep the faith!) the closest we’ll get to calling Amy our big sister/neighbor/pal/coach/godmother, I’ve plucked some of the book’s most resonating gems of wisdom to share. While each one is undeniably richer in context, sometimes all we have time for is a good one-liner, and I think if anyone on the planet would understand that, it’s Amy.

On Motherhood

“The bond between mothers and sons is powerful stuff. I firmly believe that every boy needs his mom to love him and every girl needs her dad to pay attention to her.” (pg. 301)

“I’m supposed to act like I constantly feel guilty about being away from my kids. (I don’t. I love my job.) Mothers who stay at home are supposed to pretend they are bored and wish they were doing more corporate things. (They don’t. They love their job.) If we all stick to the plan there will be less blood in the streets.” (pg. 151)

“When your children arrive, the best you can hope for is that they break open everything about you. Your mind floods with oxygen. Your heart becomes a room with wide-open windows. You laugh hard every day. You think about the future and read about global warming. You realize how nice it feels to care about someone else more than yourself. And gradually, through this heart-heavy openness and these fresh eyes, you start to see the world a little more. Maybe you start to care a teeny tiny bit more about what happens to everyone in it.” (pg. 303)

On Looks

“If you are lucky, there is a moment in your life when you have some say as to what your currency is going to be. I decided early on it was not going to be my looks. I have spent a lifetime coming to terms with this idea and I would say I am about 15 to 20 percent there.” (pg. 20)

On Apologizing

“I am getting to a place right in the middle where I feel good about exactly how much I apologize. It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for. It takes years to find your voice and seize your real estate.” (pg. 65)

On Divorce

“When you are a person going through a divorce you feel incredibly alone, yet you are constantly reminded by society of how frequently divorce happens and how common it has become. You aren’t allowed to feel special, but no one understands the specific ways you are in pain.” (pg. 87)

On the Perks of Aging

“Sex is better and I’m better at it. I don’t miss the frustration of youth, the anticipation of love and pain, the paralysis of choices still ahead. The pressure of ‘What are you going to do?’ makes everybody feel like they haven’t done anything yet.” (pg. 101)

On Pregnancy

“Women really are at their most dangerous during this time. Your hormones are telling you that you are strong and sexy, everyone is scared of you, and you have a built-in sidekick who might come out at any minute.” (pg. 36)

On Female Friendship

“ ‘Good for her! Not for me.’ This is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.” (pg. 32)

On Success

“You have to care about your work but not about the result. You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look.” (pg. 253)

On Personal Vision

“We all have a tiny whispery voice inside of us, but the bad ones are usually at a lower register and come through a little clearer. I don’t know where the good voice came from. It was a mix of loving parents, luck, and me. But ever since I was a small child, I would look at places where I wanted to be and believe I would eventually be on the other side of the glass.” (pg. 8)

On Her Love/Hate of Technology

“My phone is trying to kill me. It is a battery-charged rectangle of disappointment and possibility. It is a technological pacifier. I keep it beside me to make me feel less alone, unless I feel like making myself feel lonely. It can make me feel connected and unloved, ugly and important, sad and vindicated.” (pg. 324)

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