Love Nora Ephron? Here Are 5 Books You Need to Read

Maria Semple's Where'd You Go Bernadette

Nora Ephron wrote her truth. She shared the daily horrors and joys of being a particular type of woman (opinionated, intelligent, neurotic, wanting her pie heated and her ice cream separate, you get it) long before it was the thing to do. And Ephron nailed it in such a smart, funny way that people actually cared! While it does bear mentioning that her characters were far from universal—her work was heavily steeped in upper-class privilege, among other things—just the fact that she was in the trenches and doing her thing well and often helped make it possible for other women to write honestly about their own interior lives. Today, we watch Liz Lemon working on her night cheese because of Nora Ephron. We cheer for Olivia Pope giving the president the business because of Nora Ephron. And, of course, Lena Dunham—because Nora Ephron.

So pour a glass of wine, dance around your house, read all these books, then binge-watch these semi-related shows (basically, never leave your house ever again). And above all, give thanks for Nora Ephron.

If you heart Nora Ephron’s wit:
READ THIS: The Portable Dorothy Parker, by Dorothy Parker
Parker used to bust out her word-swords on everyone all over the place all the time and it was awesome. She would corral her smart, hilarious friends to meet for lunch every day so they could talk in a smart, hilarious way about the world (“throwing shade,” in fancy 1920s parlance) and then get their bon mots printed in the newspappies.

AND THEN…watch Gilmore Girls, a show in which sparkling banter flies at the speed of light.

If you dig her complicated female characters:
READ THIS: Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple
This book is hilarious, first and foremost. It also happens to be about a brilliant, imperfect, rich woman, so it’s basically a 10 on the Ephron scale. Can we stress the brilliant and imperfect part, though? Because we’re talking REALLY brilliant and REALLY imperfect. Bernadette Fox royally messes up her own life, and you’ll read it and still kinda like her and want her to be your worst friend.

AND THEN…watch (and readOrange is the New Black. The protagonist is completely insufferable, but the supporting cast is everything. Attn: Danielle Brooks (Taystee)—be my best friend? Please and thank you.

If you’re grateful for the way she cleared some branches out of the way so other women could come along and do their own thing, too:
READ THIS: Bossypants, by Tina Fey
If there’s anyone in the world who could even remotely be considered as a successor to the Ephron throne, it’s Tina Fey. (And also Amy Poehler, but her book doesn’t come out ’til later this year and this blog post is mainly about books.) Can we combine these two women and make them the Optimus Prime of hilarious, amazing feminists? Someone master that robot technology, please. But anyway, Bossypants is a fun and self-deprecating look at how and why Fey came to be the star of all of our lady dreams.

AND THEN…watch Bridesmaids or The Heat (taster’s choice!), because both were written by women and kicked serious butt. Or watch Scandal, because not only is Kerry Washington killing it in heels as Olivia Pope, but writer and producer Shonda Rhimes is schooling everyone on how to make a TV show worth watching—so take a seat and learn something, producery guys in suits.

If you appreciate and find comfort in the unapologetic imperfections of Meg Ryan in Ephron’s When Harry Met Sally:
READ THIS: I Was Told There’d Be Cake, by Sloane Crosley
Someone poops on the floor of Sloane Crosley’s bathroom, and she has to call people up and figure out a roundabout way to ask them if they did it or not. If you’ve ever felt indignant but also passive-aggressive about stuff, then this one’s for you. Also covers: being a bad bridesmaid and making a nightmare cookie to resemble a nightmare boss.

AND THEN…watch The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl, a hilarious web series from actress and comedian Issa Rae. Remember when we chatted up top about how Nora Ephron’s truth wasn’t necessarily universal, but it was still purposeful because it helped the world see that there were female perspectives worth listening to? In these short episodes, Issa Rae tackles her own truth—and you’ll love her general daily discomfort and revenge rapping.

If you enjoy being reminded of how far you’ve come as a human being:
READ THIS: Summer Sistersby Judy Blume
Haven’t we all had that one friend who does things like make out with the guy you like, but you still love her because she sparkles in a way that you wish you could? And just being near her makes you feel special, too? This book reminds you of how you were when you were in the process of becoming the person you are now.

AND THEN…watch Girls. Even though very few of us are like very few of those characters, there’s always (sorta? maybe?) at least one glimmer of girlhood in each episode worth relating to (and Lena Dunham IRL seems cool).

What books or movies remind you of Nora Ephron?

  • http://oatmealsmiles.com Georgia Reed

    This is awesome! As an Ephron lover I will be locked inside my house laughing manically for at least the next year thanks to this post. :)

    Great work!