Shonda Rhimes the person

You know how sometimes, you hear about books and you don’t read them, don’t read them, don’t read them, keep hearing about them, don’t read them until finally you do and wonder what took you so long?

That’s what happened with Shonda Rhimes’ The Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person.

Shonda Rhimes needs no introduction. She is, of course, the genius woman we have to thank for Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Private Practice and How to Get Away With Murder. She is the powerhouse behind TGIT, an entire night of network television dedicated to her universe. Lainey Gossip and Duana Taha are big fans of hers and talk about her and The Year of Yes often on their podcast, Show Your Work.

(Have you listened? It’s dedicated to work within the celebrity ecosystem and is brilliant and endlessly fascinating)

I bought a copy of this book almost a year ago. I finally read it.

What took me so long??


The Year of Yes is kind of like one of those “I did this thing for a year and this is what happened” books. Except it’s Shonda Rhimes and she simply started saying “yes” to things that she always said no to. Her sister mentioned, offhand one night, that Shonda never said yes to anything and it got her thinking and she decided that for a year, she would say yes: to speaking engagements, going on Kimmel, spending time with her kids, having difficult conversations, to compliments, to saying no.

A few things struck me about this lovely little memoir.

  1. Shonda’s writing style is so conversational. She pulls you in like you are having a conversation with her, like you are her friend and this is all casual over dinner or drinks. It’s an incredibly effective way of making you care about what she has to say right off the bat.
  2. It’s so honest. Shonda holds nothing back. She lets you in fully. The one time she keeps details somewhat private are when she is talking about someone she was in a relationship with, who she didn’t end up marrying. She deftly manages to convey her side of things without bring anyone else into it. She is honest about how much help she has at home, her struggles with her weight, her mental well-being in certain situations – she writes it all.
  3. Shonda Rhimes is responsible for so much of our cultural lexicon! Reading this book, it really struck me what a massive impact Shonda Rhimes has had on our cultural memories, the things we say and the television events we all remember.
  4. Her relationship with Cristina Yang is intense (in a good way). Shonda talks about how she’s extremely introverted and Cristina Yang was the vehicle she used to say a lot of the things she wanted to say before she was able to be the one actually saying them. It was really interesting to read about this relationship with a character she created and what it was like saying good bye when she left the show.
  5. That even though she is pretty well single-handedly responsible for diversifying TV, she hates the concept of diversity. She just doesn’t see what the big deal is about making her shows look like what the world actually looks like.

I’m so glad that I finally read this book. It was light, funny, and so enlightening. She talks so much about self care and what that looks like for her (something we all think about a little more these days) and I so appreciated getting to know Shonda Rhimes the person. I read this book in one sitting, I couldn’t stop. It’s rare to get to read a memoir that is so captivating and offers its reader so much at the same time.

It was a delight from start to finish.

17 thoughts on “Shonda Rhimes the person

  1. This is definitely a read-it-in-one-setting kind of book. I loved this book, too, and really admired Rhimes’ honesty and the way she challenged herself to say “YES!” to life. 🙂

  2. Amazing! I loveeeee Shonda Rhimes shows and yet have still not read this either. I had a copy once, but donated it for space, and now I’m wishing I didn’t! So cool to learn about how Cristina Yang was her inner voice. That is such a neat relationship to have with a character! Now, I’ll have to get my hands on this.. again!

  3. This book has had a lasting impact on me too! I actually read it from my LFL – even though it had a coffee (at least i sure hope it was coffee) stain on it (being a germaphobe)! It reminded me to be more open to experiences!

  4. This sounds really inspiring: something to balance out the heart-wringing NF in the stack! (I’m reading about the Chilean miners stuck underground for weeks. See, this is why I don’t read NF. *grins*)

  5. Can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but I have never watched a single one of her shows! Not for any bad reason, just not compelled. Having said that, this sounds like a book that would be great reading right now.

    • I mean, they aren’t perfect. But early seasons of Grey’s and Scandal and even How to Get Away With Murder are pretty damn solid. I’ve since jumped ship on all of them (little shark jumpy for me) but I haven’t ruled out Netflix binges one day.
      The book though, is really good. And you don’t have to be a fan to enjoy it.

  6. I admire Shonda’s and love her writing style. It’s simple, made me lol and it’s inspiring, it certainly inspired me to start writing.
    Come and check out a couple of my blogs…I’m a beginner so don’t expect to much if you read but please feel free to leave some feedback.

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