I Feel Bad about My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman

I Feel Bad about My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman

by Nora Ephron


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307276827
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/08/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 56,045
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.45(d)

About the Author

Nora Ephron was the author of the bestselling I Feel Bad About My Neck as well as Heartburn, Crazy Salad, Wallflower at the Orgy, and Scribble Scribble. She wrote and directed the hit movie Julie & Julia and received Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay for When Harry Met Sally. . ., Silkwood, and Sleepless in Seattle, which she also directed. Her other credits include the script for the stage hit Love, Loss, and What I Wore with Delia Ephron. She died in 2012.

Read an Excerpt

What I Wish I’d KnownPeople have only one way to be.Buy, don’t rent.Never marry a man you wouldn’t want to be divorcedfrom.Don’t cover a couch with anything that isn’t more orless beige.Don’t buy anything that is 100 percent wool even if itseems to be very soft and not particularly itchy whenyou try it on in the store.You can’t be friends with people who call after 11 p.m.Block everyone on your instant mail.The world’s greatest babysitter burns out after two anda half years.You never know.The last four years of psychoanalysis are a waste ofmoney.The plane is not going to crash.Anything you think is wrong with your body at the ageof thirty-five you will be nostalgic for at the age of forty-five.At the age of fifty-five you will get a saggy roll justabove your waist even if you are painfully thin.This saggy roll just above your waist will be especiallyvisible from the back and will force you to reevaluatehalf the clothes in your closet, especially the whiteshirts.Write everything down.Keep a journal.Take more pictures.The empty nest is underrated.You can order more than one dessert.You can’t own too many black turtleneck sweaters.If the shoe doesn’t fit in the shoe store, it’s never goingto fit.When your children are teenagers, it’s important to havea dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.Back up your files.Overinsure everything.Whenever someone says the words “Our friendship ismore important than this,” watch out, because it almostnever is.There’s no point in making piecrust from scratch.The reason you’re waking up in the middle of the nightis the second glass of wine.The minute you decide to get divorced, go see a lawyerand file the papers.Overtip.Never let them know.If only one third of your clothes are mistakes, you’reahead of the game.If friends ask you to be their child’s guardian in casethey die in a plane crash, you can say no.There are no secrets.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Wickedly witty. . . . Crackling sharp. . . . Fireworks shoot out [of this collection].” —The Boston Globe“Long-overdue. . . . Executed with sharpness and panache . . . . [Nora Ephron] retains an uncanny ability to sound like your best friend, whoever you are. . . . It's good to know that Ms. Ephron's wry, knowing X-ray vision is one of them.” —The New York Times“Women who find themselves somewhere between the arrival of their first wrinkle and death have to hear only the title to get the message.”—Los Angeles Times“Wry and amusing. . . . Marvelous.” —The Washington Post Book World

Reading Group Guide

“Wickedly witty. . . . Crackling sharp. . . . Fireworks shoot out [of this collection].”
The Boston Globe

The introduction, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading that follow are intended to enhance your group's discussion of I Feel Bad About My Neck, Nora Ephron's disarming, intimate, frank, and often hilarious essays about coping—or failing to cope—with growing older.

1. In “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” Ephron writes that she avoids making truthful comments on how her friends look, even when they ask her directly [pp. 3–4]. Why is this a wise decision? She says, “the neck is a dead giveaway” [p. 5]. When women seek each other's opinions about how their necks, and other features, really look, do they want the truth, or do they want to be reassured?

2. According to Ephron, most authors who write about aging say “it great to be old. It's great to be wise and sage and mellow” [p. 7]. What, for her, is wrong with this approach? How would you compare I Feel Bad About My Neck with other books you have read about aging or menopause? Is it more useful?

3. In “I Hate My Purse,” Ephron sees her purse as a microcosm of her life—it is the symbol of her inability to be organized. Given the current obsession with expensive purses in American fashion, why is her choice of a plastic MetroCard bag amusing [pp. 15–16]?

4. What do the foods we cook, the cookbook authors we seek to emulate, and the way we entertain guests, say about how we want life to be? Why does Ephron give up her attachment to Craig Claiborne and begin “to make a study of Lee Bailey” [p. 26], and then later move on to Martha Stewart and Nigella Lawson?

5. Heartburn was a “thinly disguised novel about the end of my marriage” [p. 28]. If you have read Heartburn or seen the film, think about how Ephron presents her current stage in life, and what has changed for her. What is her attitude as she reflects on earlier and more difficult periods of her life?

6. Ephron writes, “I sometimes think that not having to worry about your hair anymore is the secret upside of death” [p. 32]. She also says that going to a hair salon twice a week and having her hair blown dry is “cheaper by far than psychoanalysis, and much more uplifting” [p. 34]. For Ephron, “maintenance” has larger implications than just taking care of one's appearance. What are the larger meanings of these annoying, repetitive actions, for her—and by implication, for women in general?

7. What would this book be like if written by a man? Do men have similar issues about growing older, and do they talk or think about them in similar ways? Think about and share ideas about what well-known man—a writer or a celebrity, perhaps—might be capable of writing the male version of I Feel Bad About My Neck.

8. In “Parenting in Three Stages,” Ephron revises some commonly held notions. Adolescence, for instance, is a period that helps parents separate from their children, and there is “almost nothing you can do to make life easier for yourself except wait until it's over” [p. 62]. Later in the book she says, “the empty nest is underrated” [p. 125]. How does being in her sixties, with her children out of the house, change Ephron's perspective on motherhood?

9. In “Moving On,” Ephron writes about an important and prolonged episode in her past: a love affair with an apartment building. How does she eventually “move on”? Does this essay suggest that she has become more pragmatic with time? How does she change her mind about what makes sense for her, as she gets older?

10. Why is “The Story of My Life in 3,500 Words or Less” such an effective way of telling one's life story? What does Ephron focus on as the most important issues in this miniaturized autobiography? What lessons has she learned?

11. While this is undoubtedly a funny and enjoyable book, in what ways is it also a serious book? What are Ephron's most important insights in “Considering the Alternative”?

12. What, if anything, does I Feel Bad About My Neck have to say about the benefits of growing older?

13. Certain small pieces in this collection might provoke you and members of your group to try writing your own version. What would you include, for instance, in your own list of “What I Wish I'd Known”?

14. What is the funniest moment in this collection, and why?


“Wickedly witty. . . . Crackling sharp. . . . Fireworks shoot out [of this collection].”
The Boston Globe

The introduction, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading that follow are intended to enhance your group's discussion of I Feel Bad About My Neck, Nora Ephron's disarming, intimate, frank, and often hilarious essays about coping—or failing to cope—with growing older.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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I Feel Bad about My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 184 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read a review on this book and ordered it from my local library in Tennessee. I tried to borrow it while I was in San Diego for a month, however, there was a waiting list of 122. Does that tell you something? When I got back to TN the book was waiting for me. Real in every sense of the word - but, you need to have a dry sense of humor to find this book funny, or should I say - you need to have a humorous personality to understand it. I loved this book so much, I have ordered a copy for myself. I repeatedly went back over chapters that meant something to me - all of them, that's how closely these chapters match my own life. They read quickly as there are only a few pages in each chapter. I am going to buy all of her books, that's how much of an imaginary mentor she is to me. You've got to read this book if you are 60 or over, especially if you're having a bad day as this book will put a smile on your face for all the right reasons. I love the chapter on the Purse.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is beyond funny. Her choice of words is absolutely perfect. My words can not convey the absolute necessity of reading this book for any woman over that age where we start seeing our necks in the mirror and wanting a change. For you that may be 35 or 65 but when that is becomes the time for this to be a MUST read!
FDDJFVA More than 1 year ago
Let me start by saying that I LOVE Nora Ephron. I love her wit, her sense of humor, her movies and I will go so far as to say I think we have similar outlooks on life. I did not however, love this book. I really did expect more. I felt that most of the book was just "filler". I found the NY real estate chapter of her book interesting but there wasn't one chapter that grabbed me. I'm sorry Nora, but this was kind of forgettable. I will end on an upbeat note by saying I loved the cover and I hope that you come out with a new movie soon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great, in fact because this book made me laugh repeatedly about something I find the opposite of funny. Ephron, who's still running circles around younger writers, reveals how it feels to face life in the not-as-fast lane. Especially good are her discriptions of mishaps and misadventures and the ways she gets over and goes through some of the inevitable albeit unexpected challenges. Just wonderful reading, particulary for people who can't read without their glasses.
Judysviews More than 1 year ago
Nora Ehron is right on target with her hilarious view of women's experiences. A BIG chuckle in an overly serious world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After seeing Nora on Oprah along with some other aging women, I was slightly interested in her book. Then, when I went to the bookstore I saw it and instantly knew that it was the book I wanted to purchase..and I don't regret it! I laughed outloud to this book. I reccomend this to any woman..and I am only 16!
Sarah_in_USA More than 1 year ago
Funny, entertaining, and right on the spot of women's pet peeves and foibles! Not great literature but the kind of female soul food needed when one gest older, the things to discuss only between females, because it only pertains to us.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Funny, but I was thinking the same thing about MY neck and saw the title of this book. I've read many a Roberts book but this one is the best. Funny and sad at the same time, I really enjoyed it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you're like the lady who can't appreciate the humor because Nora Ephrom makes more money than she does (making her an elitist? Pu-lease! You COULD just see the it all as metaphorical examples instead of being the snob yourself.)- then don't bother because you'll be wasting your time. Otherwise, if you appreciate dry wit - the kind that sounds like Tom Hanks when he was emailing Meg Ryan in 'You've Got Mail' - you will love this book. I read chapters of it on my lunch hour and always went back to my desk chuckling. I giggled uncontrollably throughout and insisted on reading parts aloud to my husband, hairdresser, best friend... whoever would listen. I LOVE her tongue-in-cheek humor and delightful take on the commonplace. I would recommend this book to any woman over 59 (my age, ya see). Nora even makes me want to be a better writer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's hard to stop once you begin reading any of the essays in this book. I particularly enjoyed those that followed the title's suggested theme: women getting older. Like a reviewer below, I had a more difficult time relating to the woes of someone who must pay $12,000 monthly for an Manhattan apartment as opposed to $10,000. But most of the book was spot-on and hilarious. The final chapter on facing mortality struck a contrasting and very poignant note.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just before falling asleep I found myself laughing out loud at her various efforts. (Her reaction to an exercise program was halarious.) I think others will relate to the events in her life as much as I did and maybe even learn something from her life experiences.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Since I am the exact age as the author, I really enjoyed hearing her tell "my story" as well as her own (I listen to audio books). I like Nora's writing style and will definitely order future books from this writer. I especially like books that are read by the author as opposed to voice over artists. The actual author lends true emotion to each sentence as they tell it like it is. This was good for a few laughs.
ANoraFan More than 1 year ago
I love this book, and the author even more. The audiobook is even better - her comic timing and choice of words are perfect! I could listen to this over and over again. I'll be able to relate more with each passing year. It sure takes the pain out of long commutes.
emjay49 More than 1 year ago
This a great read, a must read for fellow sisters of the 60's. I've been there, done that, ditto the neck thing!
njoyVA More than 1 year ago
Witty, well written, loads of fun
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a great read, especially when you are old enough to 'know what she means'. I'm giving this book to all my women friends this coming holiday season.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love any book that makes me laugh----and think! Enter I FEEL BAD by Roberts, her latest addition to her growing literary canon. Trust me, if you don't feel bad about your neck now . . . you will. Roberts has taken her career to new heights with this great book! READ IT!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book makes me glad I'm a woman with all my lumps and bumps. I love reading real thoughts from real women. Pass this on to your significant others.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Even though I am only 22 years old, I found this book on aging irreverent and funny. I love the witty, unabashed manner in which she addresses the things we all deal with.. or at least dread having to deal with one day.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved every page of this book and recommend it highly! I'm off to order her other books right now.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The truth about getting older - a hilarious, and occasionally poignant, collection of observations and insights. It ain't pretty, but it's comforting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I remember reading Heartburn many years ago, and I thought I remembered that I liked it (I still have it in my library). This book, however, goes off the track too many times. The author tells us too many boring things about herself and where she worked and about husband after husband after husband. And, gee, you poor thing...having to move out of your oversized, ultra expensive apartment. The author obviously enjoys bragging about her excesses, and , personally, I'm glad I got 30% off the price...I say wait for it to come out in paperback. The hardcover price is definitely not worth it.
jre503 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
While I may not be in Nora's target demographic, age-wise, I think all females can relate to concern about one's appearance in our image conscious society. I have always enjoyed the gentle humor of her movies, but this is the first book of hers that I read. As usual, she does not disappoint. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on maintenance!
InCahoots on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A few good chuckles.
JessicaStalker on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is a personal, heartwarming and funny collection of stories. Some sad, some sweet, all creatively written. Though I am not yet at the age where I feel bad about my neck, I appreciated Ephron's insight into aging and the array of issues surrounding it. Most surprising were the chapters about her personal heartache and discussion of death. I laughed and I cried. What more could you ask for?