Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts On Being a Woman by Nora Ephron
Published April 2008 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing
Source: purchased the audio book at my local library sale
Narrated by: Nora Ephron

Publisher's Summary: 
Overview With her disarming, intimate, completely accessible voice, and dry sense of humor, Nora Ephron shares with us her ups and downs in I Feel Bad About My Neck, a candid, hilarious look at women who are getting older and dealing with the tribulations of maintenance, menopause, empty nests, and life itself.

Ephron chronicles her life as an obsessed cook, passionate city dweller, and hapless parent. But mostly she speaks frankly and uproariously about life as a woman of a certain age.

My Thoughts:
All women of a certain age should read this book. You'll know if you're the right age if you have, in fact, ever felt bad about your neck. Or gone through menopause. Or become an empty nester.

If I were, instead of writing a book review, writing a movie review for this collection of essays, I'd write that trite bit "I laughed, I cried." Because really, I did. One minute I was that woman in the car next to you at the intersection laughing even though there's no one else in the car. The next, tears are streaming down my face. This last had to do with a piece dealing with mortality and the death of Ephron's dearest friend to cancer. It was sad taken by itself. But when you listen, aware that just a few  years later Ephron herself died of leukemia, it is all the more poignant.
“I want to talk to her. I want to have lunch with her. I want her to give me a book she just read and loved. She is my phantom limb, and I just can’t believe I’m here without her.”- on losing her best friend” “I want to talk to her. I want to have lunch with her. I want her to give me a book she just read and loved. She is my phantom limb, and I just can’t believe I’m here without her.”
Ephron doesn't just touch on the problems of aging as a woman, though. She talks about food, love, parenting, New York City, writing and reading.
“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I've accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it's a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it's a way of making contact with someone else's imagination after a day that's all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.”
“There is something called the rapture of the deep, and it refers to what happens when a deep-sea diver spends too much time at the bottom of the ocean and can't tell which way is up. When he surfaces, he's liable to have a condition called the bends, where the body can't adapt to the oxygen levels in the atmosphere. All of this happens to me when I surface from a great book.”
Some of the essays in this collection are pure fluff (there's an entire essay about purses, for example). Some of the essays are much weightier - like the one about Bill Clinton that starts out making you think its an essay about one of her husbands. Ephron never loses her wit while she is skewering someone or writing on lighter subjects.

I miss Nora Ephron. Hers are the movies I watch over and over. And now hers will be the book that I read again and again.


  1. I'm so glad to know you loved this. I adore her movies and I hate that she's gone, and I definitely think I need to experience this book.

  2. I love the quote about reading being everything. That is so true! This sounds like a book that really touched you and is a worthwhile read. And it sounds like it has a nice balance of serious and the not so serious, which is always a good thing, I find, in an essay collection.

  3. If you enjoyed this one, you will enjoy Diane Keaton's new book, Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty. I am listening to it now. I must say, this forty-something can relate to a lot of what she has to say about aging gracefully.

  4. I've never read much Nora Ephron but this is on my wait list for my library's ebook section. I'm not quite the target age but it still sounds interesting. Thanks for the review - it definitely makes me want to read this book!

  5. As an older woman with "neck issues", I could so relate to this gem of a book. I also loved Lot's of Candles, Plenty of Cake, Quindlen for the same reasons --relatibility:)

  6. I read this about 7 years ago and absolutely LOVED it! I had fun re-reading my review and am tempted to toss the book in my carry-on bag at the end of the month. Ephron makes me laugh out loud and I could use a good laugh in the coming weeks. I especially related to her thoughts on the need of reading glasses. Hilarious and oh, so true! Thanks for the reminder about this gem. So glad I own a copy!