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Summer Reading: Memoirs from inspiringly hilarious women

Today’s post is all about some of my favourite women of comedy, and more specifically, their hilarious and inspiring memoirs. And while I’ve never claimed to be perfect at book reviews (or anything), I reckon I’ve hit the nail on the head with this one. This little list is perfectly timed to set you up poolside/beachside with a thoughtful dose of reading to get you through your summer vacation (and provide a few fun instagram opportunities – hello fav pair of oversized sunnies and book-of-the-moment care of The Modern Ascent). Plus there’s jusssst enough time before Christmas to drop a few hints to your loved ones about these top notch stocking stuffers.

Anyway, onto the books. I’ve read most of these over the last 12 months or so, and can confirm that each and every one has it’s own special type of literary addictiveness allowing it to fall into the category of ‘unputdownable’. And while the authors of these books are undoubtedly hilarious, they cover a lot of ground and it’s not all laughs – the writers also cover some of their darker days and struggles. I love them all and hope you will too!

In no particular order here they are…

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns), Mindy Kaling

I couldn’t love Mindy Kaling more if I tried. Many recognise her as Kelly Kapoor on the US version of the Office but far fewer realise that she was also a writer and director on the show. Ultimate girl crush material right there! And how could you not love her as Mindy Lahiri in The Mindy Project, which she writes, produces and stars in. Can you tell yet that I’m in love?!  IEHOWM(AOC) is no exception to Mindy’s awesomeness.

It covers Mindy’s childhood and adolescence as the chubby girl (including the time she returned home from college looking like a “food monster who had eaten [her parents’] daughter]”), the exact level of fame she wants (which apparently is the Conan O’Brien level of fame and definitely not the Paris Hilton level of fame) and her big break writing and starring in a two-woman play about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (she played Ben and did precisely zero research into either Matt or Ben).

This one is pretty lighthearted and fun throughout. Mindy keeps it totally approachable with her enviable pop culture references. Yeah there are no massively deep or poignant moments but I don’t think there has to be. Sometimes you just want some fun and laughs with a girlfriend on a Saturday night over a bottle of wine and a bag of chips, and that is essentially what this book feels like. Good times all round. Can’t wait to pick up a copy of her second book ‘Why Not Me?’!

The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy Schumer

This one is not for those that are easily offended or who would prefer not to read graphic descriptions of Amy’s sexual encounters. But of course, if you know anything about Amy Schumer, you already know that.

In true Amy style, there are regular references to her nether-region and some of the many and varied men who have paid it a visit, but don’t be fooled, this is no two-dimensional book about a few sexcapades with famous athletes and musicians (although there is that and it’s great). There’s some fun stuff like extracts from her personal diaries ages 13, 18, 20 and 22 and her homage to crappy New York City Apartments. There’s some family stuff like how her parents were trying to mess her up (but that she loves them anyway). There’s stuff about working hard – harder than you may have thought possible – to get good at something you love. There’s important stuff about knowing your worth, loving yourself and never apologising for it. And there’s also some really challenging, dark stuff that certainly took me by surprise – like her experience as a victim of domestic abuse. I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to picture strong, confident, assertive Amy as a victim of domestic abuse. But that’s just it. There is no one ‘type’ of victim. Amy tells her story to demonstrate it can happen to anyone and to help them find the courage to get out.

So, if you can handle more than a few F-bombs and the occasional C-bomb, I highly recommend giving this a go. Both for the lols but also for the strong dose of girl-power.

You’ll Grow Out of It, Jessi Klein

Have you ever found yourself on a beach in the middle of summer, sweat mingled with sunscreen running down your back, legs, forehead, a million individual specks of sand wedging themselves uncomfortably in your every crevice? Ever looked across the beach as your sunglasses slip down your sweaty nose to see a genuine glamourzon of a woman almost floating towards you, breezing gracefully across the sand? I have spent many a summer marveling at these bronze beauties wondering how they do it. Try as I might, grace and the beach do not come hand in hand for me. Finally, finally someone has demystified this rare and perplexing phenomenon for me. Those beauties on beaches are Poodles. I, on the other hand, am a Wolf. I can never be a Poodle.

The woman behind the Poodle and Wolves theory is Jessi Klein – stand up comic and Emmy award winning head writer of Inside Amy Schumer. She deduced this mind blowing theory after an evening of observing the impeccable Angelina Jolie on telly and found herself wondering how she, Jessi, was even the same species as the wondrous Angelina. That was when she came to the realisation that some women are Poodles – effortless, confident, stylish – while others are Wolves. It’s not that we Wolves don’t have our own brand of beautiful – Wolves and Poodles aren’t determined by their beauty (she’s pretty sure Jen Aniston is a Wolf) – but we do need to work a little harder to get it together than our Poodle companions. And so, now that I know that I’ll never be a Poodle, this summer I will accept my place in life and on the beach and continue to swat the sand off my sunscreen glazed body as I limp unevenly over the hot sand.

I fear I may have lost some of you then?! In any case, there’s a whole lot more to love about this book than just Poodles and Wolves. Aside from the above, Jessi provides many insights (and lols) into life as a tom-man and doles out some ripper advice about trusting your gut, taking risks and leaning into fear. It’s probably my pick of the bunch (and that is saying something with company like this!!!). Just go read it.

Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna Kendrick

I love Anna Kendrick in pretty much everything she does but if we’re playing favourites, Pitch Perfect is everything. And while the first few chapters of her memoir were a little too self-deprecating for me – I mean, Anna you’re clearly the recipient of far more talent in one lifetime than someone with your pint-sized body should be privy to (you’re making us feel very average over here!!) – once I hit my stride, I totally loved it.

Anna’s tone is conversational like we are just two best buds catching up over coffee (Anna, can we please be best buds and catch up over coffee?) and it is perfect summer reading for ladies just like me, that is, those of us who grew up with a healthy dose of 90s pop culture e.g. you idolised Jonathon Taylor Thomas, picked out the middle brother in 3 Ninjas as your future bf, and grew up on a steady diet of Sex and the City.

There’s love and dating advice aplenty (essentially, don’t date guys who don’t like you) and sneak peaks into the life of a Hollywood star including working with George Clooney (George Clooney, guys!! Swoon!), the first time a photographer followed her home, and an approximately four page tribute to the amazingness that is Zac Efron and why he could totally make a cult leader and that we’d all follow him to the ends of the earth etc. etc. There’s also some pretty special stuff about Anna’s start in showbiz and her tenacity, even as a teenager, to chase her dreams and not settle for a backup plan. Can I hear a #GIRLBOSS?! Add it to your reading lists, ladies.

Next up on my inspiring-women-of-comedy reading list is Amy Poehler’s Yes Please and Tina Fey’s Bossypants because now that I’ve started I just can’t get enough of these wonderful women in my life. What other great memoirs have you read recently? I would love some more recommendations! Leave me a comment below 🙂

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