Year of Yes

How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

LIST PRICE $12.99

About The Book

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.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Year of Yes includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

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 dropped a grenade on Shonda’s seemingly safe, happy life: “You never say yes to anything.” These words stuck in Shonda’s brain and prompted her to challenge herself: for one year, say yes to everything. Say YES to the unexpected invitations that come your way. Say YES to the things that scare you. Shonda reluctantly set out―and the results of her hard-won, yearlong journey are 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 the power of YES.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Shonda Rhimes has spent her entire life “making stuff up” and was lucky enough to make a career doing something she loves that comes naturally to her: writing fiction. Why, then, do you think it is such a challenge for Shonda to write this book and to tell the truth about herself?

2. Why does Shonda decide to spend a year saying yes to things that scare her? Do you think she makes the right choice? If you were in her place, would you have committed to a Year of Yes? Why or why not?

3. Compare Shonda’s previous experiences with publicity and media appearances, such as the TCA panels or the Oprah interview when she was “a walking panic attack” (40) to her publicity experiences as the Year of Yes progresses. How does the Dartmouth commencement speech act as a turning point?

4. How does Shonda’s sense of humor affect her experiences throughout the Year of Yes? Does it help her along the way, or does she use it as a shield?

5. Early on in the Year of Yes, publicist Chris calls Shonda out to prove that it’s not just big talk and to hold her accountable to saying yes to publicity opportunities. Why is having a strong support network so important? How does it affect Shonda’s success and motivation?

6. What does Shonda learn from her own characters, such as Christina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy?

7. How does motherhood change Shonda’s priorities? How does it change her relationships with and perspective on working mothers?

8. Saying yes began to take Shonda away from home too often, away from her children, and from sleep. How does saying yes to saying no allow the pendulum swing back to moderation? How does Shonda’s family help ground her?

9. Shonda writes about the importance of uninterrupted time for yes, for love, for what makes us happy; with no cell phones, laundry, or growing to-do lists to get in the way. What can you do in your own life to be more present, to give your uninterrupted attention to your loved ones?

10. How was Shonda’s relationship with food and her own body changed by saying yes?

11. Shonda is often recognized as a trailblazer for the way she portrays diversity in her shows (which she calls just plain normal), and the stakes are often very high for Shonda as F.O.D. (First. Only. Different.) How does the pressure affect her and her pursuit of yes? Do you think she embraces her role as “trailblazer”? Why or why not?

12. Consider this passage as Shonda reflects on the difficulty many women have with accepting a compliment: “When you negate someone’s compliment, you are telling them they are wrong. You’re telling them they wasted their time. You are questioning their taste and judgment” (193). How does saying yes change the way Shonda thinks about giving and receiving compliments? How does this affect her overall confidence?

13. While it was difficult (okay, maybe excruciating), what does Shonda learn from her realization that she doesn’t want to get married? What would you have done in her situation? Why?

14. Shonda writes that when she does something, she really does it and throws herself into it 100 percent. What would you do if you weren’t restricted by fear?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Watch Shonda's Dartmouth speech at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuHQ6TH60_I. Watch for the moment when she exhales out her fear, then exhale out your own fear and share your best graduate-ready wisdom with your book club.

2. Dance it out. Prepare a playlist of your favorite songs that you can’t help but dance to, and have a dance party at the end of your book club meeting. Share your favorite songs, your favorite dance moves, and dance it out together!

3. Watch your favorite Shondaland shows with your book club. Go back to the beginning with Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal, or How to Get Away with Murder.

About The Author

James White

Shonda Rhimes is the critically acclaimed and award-winning creator and executive producer of the hit television series Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal and the executive producer of How to Get Away With Murder. Her writing credits also include Princess Diaries 2: A Royal Engagement, Crossroads, and Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. Rhimes holds a BA from Dartmouth College in English Literature with Creative Writing and received her MFA from the USC School of Cinema-Television, where she was awarded the prestigious Gary Rosenberg Writing Fellowship. Rhimes was born and raised outside of Chicago, Illinois, and now runs her production company, Shondaland, from Los Angeles, where she lives with her three daughters. She is the author of Year of Yes and The Year of Yes Journal.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (November 2015)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781476777146

Raves and Reviews

“Rhimes is, unsurprisingly, a fantastic memoirist: Her writing is conversational and witty and lyrical, inflected with the supple human breathiness you might expect from a person who spends her days writing dialogue. It features lots of great punchlines…It features occasional, chatty, second-person asides…[It] is also in many ways a side-door self-help book…[with] pieces of advice that concern not just Rhimes’s readers, but everyone. …Year of Yes is a book about the shifts taking place in Hollywood right now,and in the world right now, in the guise of a friendly memoir. It is, like Shondaland itself, making a statement. It is insisting that it is time for the people who used to be invisible to come forward and be seen.”
—Atlantic.com

“Revealing and delightful.”
— New York Daily News

“There’s real value in the experiences Rhimes shares… When, for example, she discusses learning to take better care of herself, the memoir feels honest, raw and revelatory.”
— The Washington Post

“A sincere and inspiring account of saying yes to life…Rhimes tells us all about it in the speedy, smart style of her much-loved TV shows. She's warm, eminently relatable, and funny… Like a cashmere shawl you pack just in case, Year of Yes is well worth the purse space, and it would make an equally great gift. Rhimes said "yes" to sharing her insights . Following her may not land you on the cover of a magazine, but you'll be glad you did.”
Kirkus

“If you enjoy the rapid-fire dialogue of her characters, reading this book will feel like home. Rhimes opens up, and inspires, discussing her personal experiences as a sister, daughter, mother, friend and boss tempered with biting insights on societal expectations of women…[a] blend of biography and badassery.”
— Ebony.com

“Rhimes guides the reader through her transformative yearlong experiment, each chapter dealing with a different personal challenge for herself, and she lets us deep inside her brain, carefully laying out all of her fears and self-doubt…candid and friendly, almost as if the two of you were catching up over drinks.”
— Slate.com

“A mix of humor and conversational real talk…written with dashes of Oprah-esque inspiration but the no-B.S. frankness of, say, Dr. Cristina Yang from Grey's Anatomy…Even if Rhimes's fame and career don't make her an everywoman, she writes with an everywomanly sensibility…her words brim with such life that by the end of the book, some readers may find themselves wanting to say yes to more things, too.”
—TVInsider.com

“Rhimes' familiar,conversational writing style makes the book a more accessible Lean In,a self-help book and personal journal all rolled into one.”
—TVGuide.com

“Small, charmingly odd, inspirational stories…Quite simply, it's a book about how she learned to take care of herself, and how you might be able to as well. Welcome your new life coach, Shonda Rhimes.”
Vulture

“A self-help book dressed in casual clothes, lessons for living a better life told through relatable personal essays from the woman who set out to, in the course of a year, make her own better… There’s an uncanny familiarity to the journey Rhimes goes on… Never do you feel preached at while reading Rhimes’s book. This woman of huge fame and fortune is speaking directly to you, and she’s doing it with familiarity, humor, and earned wisdom…Year of Yes is an awakening as much as it is a reckoning. Recognize the power of what you’ve been doing. Do more of it.”
Daily Beast

"It’s like having a mini-Shonda in your head, encouraging you to go for it. And say ‘it’s handled.’"
— The Skimm (Skimm Reads pick)

“Shamelessly entertaining…an antic, funny and surprisingly funky portrait of what it’s like to be one of the most fascinating forces in contemporary network television.”
Buffalo News (Editor's Choice Review)

“This memoir/call to arms from the one-woman force behind Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder is basically a New Year’s resolution between two covers. Wherever you’re going, bring it with you.”
— Bloomberg Businessweek

“Amazing…The title alone is giving us heart eyes… Life is full of opportunities and chances that we’ve can’t even imagine. That’s the core message of empowerment in Shonda’s new book, and we’re behind it one-hundred percent. ALL OF THE YES to Year of Yes.”
—HelloGiggles

“Instead of writing passionate narratives for her TV characters, Rhimes adopted their pluck and bold attitudes and attacked life with a new sense of purpose…Who knew that such a small word could have such a life-changing impact? By saying “yes,” she learned to dance it out and stand in the sun. Dr. Cristina Yang would be soproud.”
Associated Press

Year of Yes is as fun to read as Rhimes' TV series are to watch. Her authorial voice is fresh and strong."
Los Angeles Times

“Can help motivate even the most determined homebody to get out and try something new in the New Year.”
Chicago Tribune

“A book that is fun, dishy and inspirational all at the same time…a powerful book, a great gift for a friend or yourself, whether you’re a fan of the Shondaland lineup or not.”
—Motherlode/NYTimes.com

“Brilliant…a peek into Rhimes' wise, funny, surprisingly candid brain, which contains opinions on everything from accepting compliments and balancing showrunning with single motherhood to, yes, the recent weight loss that's been (unfairly) making the most headlines. By the end of journey in The Year of Yes, you'll feel like you've gained a new best friend.”
—Women & Hollywood/ Indiewire.com

“You’ll want to standup and cheer when she takes control, remakes her life, and learns to loveherself.”
—Buzzfeed.com

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