You Do You (a book for every woman in your life)
“I wanted this book to be a love-fest for the girls in our lives, to sing their praises just the way they are.”
–Jen Mann, New York Times bestselling author of People I Want To Punch In The Throat series, including You Do You
And wow, did she ever deliver. This is exactly what You Do You, an anthology filled to the brim with brilliant essays written by fierce females from middle school to middle aged, did. Reading this book feels like a big ‘ole John Bender style fist pump to the sky.
Jen Mann is a New York Times bestselling author best known for her wildly popular and hysterical blog and books: People I Want to Punch in the Throat. She has been described by many as Erma Bombeck―with f-bombs.
And I’m over the moon to have an essay in Jen’s latest addition to the People I Want to Punch in the Throat series, You Do You.
My essay is about a night when each of my, at the time, tween girls had a gaggle of friends over. And it was crazy, but it was also beautiful. Because they were just them — completely unique and individual and strong in their own ways. And I realized that the script that was important to me to change was instead of having a cookie cutter mold for them to each fit into, I'd so much rather lift them up and cheer them on for being just the way they are. Whether that's the athletes who are strong physically, the whip-smart ones who lead with their minds, or the caretakers, who lead with their hearts. I want my girls to know that all of these ways are just right and celebration worthy. And that celebration is what my essay is about.
So I definitely knew what I wanted to say in this book.
But what I didn’t expect was how moved I’d be to read all of the other essays. And I wasn’t alone in these feelings!
Contributor Julia Arnold, a Twin Cities freelance writer who writes about motherhood, horses, and life said, “I submitted to this anthology because I loved the concept of a female-focused book written by women around the country of all ages and stages in life. I wanted to write something that would empower my daughter as she grows up.”
And after reading the book in its entirety, she said, “It felt incredible to be a part of this collaboration. Reading the essays was a powerful, positive experience for me. I am so proud to play a part in it.”
Julia’s essay, by the way, was all about teaching her daughter to take credit for her wins. This is so a message that I can get behind!
Julia says, “I flipped the script with my essay because I noticed how many women and girls were thanking other people for their accomplishments and success. I thought, ‘is that what I want for my daughter? To always give other people credit for her hard work? No way!' I want her to take credit for her achievements and be proud of herself. That's not being self-centered, it's taking ownership!”
Another contributor, Joy Hedding, who writes from her home in western Wisconsin about anything life puts in her path – from bringing up teenagers to snowboarding – submitted to the anthology because she wanted to be a part of something that celebrates collaboration between women.
She says, “I decided to submit for the You Do You anthology based on the premise presented. I am excited to be part of something that celebrates the women in our lives. This book shares so many talented women’s work and their contributions with the world – the diversity in ages and experiences is incredible and shows how united we can be.”
And after reading the book cover to cover, she knew she’d found what she was looking for.
She says, “Reading everyone’s pieces was inspiring to say the least. I cried, laughed, read in silence, and did it all again. I continue to be fueled by reading every single piece and am humbled to be a part of this book.”
Joy’s essay was all about the fact that the very first step in teaching our girls how to carpe diem is to carpe some diem ourselves. Gulp.
She says, “The script I flipped with my piece in this book is that it’s okay to falter. It’s okay to succeed. Whatever happens, learn from it and take that next step. Be yourself and own your path. Your path is yours to control. If you don’t like it, change because you have the power to do so. And by doing all of these things we are not only telling the young people in our life, we are modeling for them. Go after it. Try. Fail. Succeed. Embrace life and live it!”
In an age where parenting can be tricky not just daily, but literally hourly, I can honestly say that You Do You is a breath of (parenting) fresh air. I sat down with NYT bestselling author and editor Jen Mann to get some behind the scenes book intel for you and I have that interview right below.
Take a look at what Jen has to say below this video about the book and the power of flipping the script for our girls and then get your own copy of You Do You for you and all of the girls and women who you love.
- Why did you decide to put together this anthology?
Over the years I've put together five other anthologies. I started these anthologies as a way to showcase other writer's voices and to create a community. Each one is a lot of work at and at the end I'm always like, “No more.” When I had five done, I felt like that was a good number and I could “retire” the anthologies. In the meantime, I'd written a fiction book for young adults called My Lame Life: Queen of the Misfits. I was at an event talking about my writing and I mentioned this book and my anthologies. Someone in the audience raised her hand and said, “Have you thought about doing an anthology for the girls who like My Lame Life?” I hadn't until that moment! But it was actually perfect. I am all about inspiring girls and women to be themselves and to embrace their successes and their failures and to just do them! I realized we needed a book that would feature not just adult voices, but also the voices of future writers. For the first time, I invited young writers to join me. I wanted to inspire not just the readers, but also these young contributors to follow their dreams. I went back to my hotel room that night and got to work and You Do You was born.
- What was your favorite part of creating this book?
I loved seeing what the young writers came up with. Because I'd never worked with teens before, I wasn't sure what to expect, and frankly, my bar was kind of low. I was stunned to see the quality of work that came in from those girls. They had a lot to say and they had such strong voices already at such a young age. I also liked that they dragged me into poetry. I'm a storyteller and poetry has always seemed impossible to me. It's not something I write and it never occurred to me to include it in an anthology. But so many of these kids express themselves through poetry, so they forced me to be open to poetry and I'm so glad they did.
- How is it the same + different than your other books?
It is the same in that it's all about empowering women. Everything I write and/or publish is to help women feel like they're not alone and You Do You is no different. It's different because of the ages represented, but it's also different because I wouldn't classify this one as funny. Normally everything I write is funny, but this time I deviated from that formula. Not that there aren't any funny stories, but the overall feel of the book is not humor.
- Who is this book for?
I think this book is for any female who needs a little boost in her life. It doesn't matter what she's seeking: camaraderie, motivation, or entertainment, she'll find it here. The great thing about anthologies is that because there are so many different writers writing about different topics there is something in there for everyone. You might not like every single chapter and that's okay, but there will be at least one that speaks to you. There will be one that either makes you laugh or makes you cry or makes you pump your fist and yell, “Yes, I needed that today!”
- Any book club tips?
I think this would be a terrific book to read with a multi-generational book club. Or a mother/daughter club or a school book club or library book club. Anthologies make great book club books because there's always a lot to discuss and it's always interesting to hear other people's perspective on the different chapters.