I'm an audiobook addict and blog about books at The Reading Date. My favorite genres are YA, New Adult, Fiction & Memoirs.
In No Land’s Man, actor Aasif Mandvi recounts his experiences growing up and feeling like an outsider. He moved from Bradford, England to Tampa, Florida with his family when he was sixteen, which was quite a culture shock. In No Land’s Man, Mandvi talks about his experiences as a multicultural actor, leading up to his breakout role on The Daily Show.
It seems like every week there is a new celebrity memoir, though Aasif Mandvi’s wasn’t really on my radar until recently. You may be familiar with Mandvi from The Daily Show, where he is the Senior Middle East correspondent. I must admit I don’t really watch the show, but I looked up Mandvi on IMDB and found I’m familiar with his work in The Proposal and The Internship. So, I was intrigued to listen to this book to learn more about Mandvi’s background. The book cover caught my eye too- isn’t it cute? (The pancakes figure into the story – Brunch is a big selling point for Mandvi’s father’s move to the US)
The early chapters focus on Mandvi’s experiences at boarding school in England, where he was a target of racial bullying and called every name in the book. Race and religion is a recurring theme in the book as Mandvi gets typecasted when he goes for acting roles, and is asked to portray stereotypes.
Mandvi got interested in performing when MTV came around in the 80s. He got obsessed with emulating Michael Jackson’s dance moves, and this got him some positive attention at school, and showcased his entertainer abilities.
Family is also a theme of the book, and Mandvi discusses his parents’ jobs, gender roles, cultural frustrations, food preferences, and humorous anecdotes.
Aasif Mandvi narrates the 4.5-hour audiobook. He is a great storyteller and gets very animated as he shares his stories. The high-energy, consistent performance keeps the listener engaged throughout. The only thing that I thought would have been cool to add though were clips of some of the performances referenced in the book. The audiobook is entertaining and made me want to check out more of Mandvi’s work.
I think this book should appeal to fans of The Daily Show, and readers of humorous and cultural memoirs.
Neil Patrick Harris tells all in a unique and humorous Choose Your Own Adventure style memoir! Choose Your Own Autobiography uses second-person pov just like the CYOA books and puts the reader in Neil Patrick Harris’ (NPH) shoes. “You” are in the driver’s seat and get to jump to “your” career and personal highlights as you go.
I am a fan of humorous memoirs and of NPH the personality, so I had a feeling this book would be lots of fun. I know NPH from awards shows and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog but haven’t seen an episode of Doogie Howser or HIMYM. This book is great for casual fans that want to learn more about the actor, and longtime fans will get a kick hearing behind the scenes anecdotes.
This is one of the more entertaining memoirs I’ve read/listened to. The CYOA format is nostalgic and clever and helps keep the story flowing in an interesting way, and I didn’t mind the second-person perspective at all.
I like this kind of celebrity memoir that includes behind the scenes info from the entertainment world as well as personal glimpses. NPH dishes about his evolving career including his performances on TV, stage (I wish I got to see Hedwig!) and film, even mentioning his recent turn in Gone Girl. We also get to hear his coming out story, and about meeting husband David Burtka and how they became parents. NPH also discusses his love of magic, Disney, an epic 40th birthday scavenger hunt, and lavish vacations with Elton John.
Special guest testimonials from Sarah Silverman, Nathan Fillion, Whoopi Goldberg, Seth MacFarlane, and more also appear in the book. (The actors’ voices do not appear on the audiobook though) These provide humorous interludes and it’s nice to hear from the actor’s NPH has worked with over the years.
In addition to NPH’s life story, the book is sprinkled with magic card tricks (have a deck of cards handy), cocktail recipes (like Dr. Pourable’s Drink-Along Grog) and David Burtka’s recipe for Bolognese Sauce. Audiobook listeners will be able to access the food and drink recipes (and a cryptic crossword!) in a PDF that comes with the book.
The audiobook is a very entertaining and fast listen. NPH is an engaging reader who obviously brings a lot of personality to the table. You can’t skip around in audio format the way you are meant to do with the CYOA print version, so the audio edition tweaks the formula a bit. With NPH saying “If you want to do this keep listening, or wait a while longer/be patient.” In the audiobook, you also get to hear a bonus audio of young NPH performing a speech. Listening to NPH give his all in this audiobook and hearing about his experiences as an award show host makes me think he will be an awesome host for next year’s Oscars.
If you are a fan of NPH or humorous memoirs I think you will love this very creative autobiography!
In Yes Please, Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation, SNL) shares stories about her upbringing and career, and also offers some sage life advice. Poehler is a welcome addition to the list of funny celebrity essayists, and like her character Leslie Knope makes you laugh and makes you think.
I’ve been a fan of Amy Poehler since she was on SNL, and adore her on Parks and Recreation, and seeing her host award shows with Tina Fey. I had high hopes for this collection – anticipating the humor of Fey’s Bossypants and Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me. This memoir/life lessons collection is not LOL funny throughout like the previously mentioned books, but I really appreciated how Poehler puts herself out there and how heartfelt her story reads. I appreciate her on a new level now, and she also just seems like someone who would be fun to grab a drink with.
Poehler recounts her early years struggling for comedy gigs, and paying the bills waitressing. She talks about doing improv with the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York. And bestie Tina Fey (they met in Chicago in the 90s) gets her own chapter.
Fans of Parks and Recreation will enjoy hearing Poehler talk about the cast and favorite moments. (There are even audio clips from the show in the audiobook) And SNL fans will get a kick of hearing about Poehler’s experiences there. She talks about portraying Hillary Clinton, Kaitlin, being part of the first all-female Weekend Update duo, and her strong friendship with Seth Meyers.
Poehler digs deep to talk about her divorce, and shares a difficult story of an SNL sketch she was involved in that offended and caused some hurt feelings. Poehler dedicates the book to her two sons, and shares parenting stories.
Poehler’s Yes Please has tidbits of advice about everything, including sex, drugs, beauty, and how to handle award show nominations. She sounds like she’s just the greatest friend to have in your corner and is so supportive of her peers.
Amy Poehler narrates the audiobook, along with some special celebrity guest, and Poehler’s own parents. Sometimes actors don’t make the best narrators, but Poehler is a natural. She sounds like she’s talking to a friend, and makes the book an entertaining listen. She hands the reins to Seth Meyers to narrate a bit, and he also does a great job. The last chapter of the book is a funny, live performance at the Upright Citizens Brigade and it ends the book on a high note.
This book is a must-read for Amy Poehler fans or fans of humorous celebrity memoirs.