Book Review: I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron
“Reading is one of the main things I do. Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel 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.”
As a sucker for romantic comedy movies, it's no surprise that I am a fangirl of Nora Ephron. Her movies, You’ve Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally, are some of my all-time favorites. I remember reading Heartburn in high school, but I don’t think I realized it was loosely based on her own life until I started reading her essays. Crazy. I picked up I Feel Bad About My Neck (And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman) from the library. This collection of essays is amazing. Each one had me laughing out loud (or tearing up) and had Ephron’s trademark humor.
In the first essay, "I Feel Bad About My Neck", Ephron discussed aging and how no one talks about growing older, specifically what happens to your neck. No matter what cosmetic treatments and enhancements you make, your neck will always reveal how old you really are. I am obviously not in that phase of life, but I appreciated how Ephron invoked humor in something that is difficult for a lot of women. I also loved how much she talks about turtlenecks. One of my favorite essays, "Serial Monogamy: A Memoir", was originally published in The New Yorker. I knew Ephron was a foodie since she directed and wrote the screenplay for Julie & Julia. Reading about her lifelong love affair with food was like being inside Julie Powell’s mind in the movie. (Side note: I adored the movie, but did not enjoy the book. Julie in real life was nowhere near as lovely as Amy Adams.) I’ve said before how much I love reading food memoirs and food fiction, so Ephron’s essay on food warmed my heart. And made me hungry.
"Moving On", Ephron’s essay about her Upper West Side apartment, made me want to pack up and move to New York City. Which I still really want to. No matter how many times I’ve visited, I always feel like I should live there for a year or two. Maybe I can convince my husband to move? Anyways, I loved how attached Ephron was to her apartment. That apartment was a steal in rent when she first leased it, before eventually moving because of outrageous rent hikes. I just love how much she loves New York City; her life is such a love letter to New York. And I love that they carried over into her movies, especially You’ve Got Mail.
Nora Ephron has always been a big reader, and I loved her essay "On Rapture" about how books can change your life. Ephron captures exactly what it feels like when you've read a book that completely changes your life. "... I am instantly lost to the world. Days pass as I savor every word. Each minute I spend away from the book pretending to be interested in everyday life is a misery." This is exactly how I feel when I read a great book. I love when writers talk about how much reading means to them. The best writers are avid readers.
I will always love romantic comedies, and Nora Ephron is the queen of rom-coms. Reading her essays is an intriguing entry into her genius. I absolutely adored reading I Feel Bad About My Neck and give it 4 stars! Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go rewatch all of Ephron’s movies and then watch Everything Is Copy, a documentary about Nora Ephron by her son Jacob. Also I did not know that her ex-husband was Carl Bernstein. Somehow I totally missed that!
What is your favorite Nora Ephron movie?