My Squirrel Days

My Squirrel Days

by Ellie Kemper


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501163340
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 10/09/2018
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 20,026
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Ellie Kemper is the Emmy-nominated star of the Netflix original series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She portrayed Erin Hannon on NBC’s The Office; costarred in Bridesmaids; and has also appeared in 21 Jump Street, Identity Thief, and Somewhere. Ellie voiced Katie in The Secret Life of Pets and is the voice of Crackle on Disney’s Sofia the First. Her writing has appeared in GQ, Esquire, The New York Times, McSweeney’s, and The Onion. Ellie currently lives in Manhattan with her husband and son, but is constantly trying to find a way to get back to St. Louis. My Squirrel Days is her first book.

Read an Excerpt

My Squirrel Days


There comes a time in every sitcom actress’s life when she is faced with the prospect of writing a book. When my number was up, I told myself that I would not blink. I would fulfill my duty as an upbeat actress under contract on a television series and serve my country in the only way I knew how. I would cull from my life the very greatest and most memorable of anecdotes, I would draw on formative lessons learned both early on and also not too long ago, I would paint for the reader a portrait of the girl, the teenager, the woman I am today, and I would not falter. I would write a book.

And so, Reader, I got to work.

First, I started dressing like an Author: black turtlenecks and dark denim jeans. Then, I started sipping like an Author: double shots of espresso with no Hershey’s syrup to cushion the blow. Finally, I started talking like an Author: “That reminds me of my book,” I would begin most sentences. I noticed people stopped talking to me as much.

But onward I marched.

I reread all the classics: Pride and Prejudice, The Catcher in the Rye, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I scribbled in journals and I sighed with meaning. All shaving came to an immediate and powerful halt. Did I stumble in my journey? Of course I did. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I would remind myself as I boldly considered mixing two flavors of Ben and Jerry’s that I had never tasted together before. Also, you should try writing the first paragraph of your book, I would add, after I had declared my new frozen dairy creation a success.

Heroes are not born; they are made. Nonetheless, being an Author is exhausting. I would struggle to fall asleep at night, tossing and turning in the way that only a tortured artist can. “Is this how Chaucer felt?!” I cried out to the big black darkness. “You are being so loud!” hushed my now-awake husband. I envied his innocence. You see, Reader, I knew that I had some great wisdom to offer you, but I worried that I did not have enough great wisdom to give to you. And this worry very nearly destroyed me.

I began losing interest in food.1 I found little joy in the things I used to love.2 I had to wonder: is all of this Life really worth it?3

And then, one Sunday afternoon, alone in my closet, sifting through a bunch of broken memories and Spanx so stretched out they were no longer useful, I came across my very first headshot:

I stared at the woman in this photo. “I know you,” I whispered. “Oh, wait. You’re me.” For a second, I had thought it was an old picture of Prince Harry. Anyway, there I was. At the time of that headshot, I was twenty-three years old, but I look both fourteen and eighty-seven. The photo was taken by Kris Carr, a beautiful vegan who wore tank tops in winter and cooked us black beans and sautéed kale for lunch. Besides my pale, remarkably round face, every inch of my skin is covered in this portrait. I am wearing a brown corduroy jacket from the Gap and a beige turtleneck that threatens to swallow me whole. My left forearm is placed casually on my right knee, suggesting that I am a strong woman with definite opinions but also that I am able to kick back and relax like an easygoing cowboy. Very little attention was paid to hair or makeup that day, but my mischievous smile assures you that I am crushing life and also that I might just have a secret or two tucked up that corduroy sleeve.

I looked at that girl and I missed her. She was full of light, of hope, and her cheeks looked like they were storing nuts. Had this girl moved on to learn anything of substance over the next fifteen years? Nah. But she did remind me of the power in pretending. She also reminded me that the Gap seems to have great sales just about every other day (at least online).

The Ellie in that headshot was not only a dead ringer for British royalty, but she was also pretending to be confident at a time in her life when, frankly, she felt a little bit lost. Wait a minute, I realized a few hours later over an exciting new mix of The Tonight Dough with Peanut Buttah Cookie Core: I do have enough wisdom to share! Corduroy Ellie may have been smiling bravely, but there was a considerable amount of doubt and fear hiding behind that smile. And yet Corduroy Ellie did not let the doubt and fear win.

As a reasonably talented person who is also part fraud, I cannot praise highly enough the virtues of enthusiasm and tenacity as substitutes for finely honed skills or intensive training. And in this book, Reader, I will tell you about the numerous times that I have made up in pluck what I have lacked in natural ability. I will reveal tidbits from my past, and I will feed you morsels from the present. Some stories might seem implausible, some anecdotes farfetched. And I am here to tell you that this is because I have made them up. What do you want from me? I have an energetic toddler and my memory is fuzzy.

Here are some of the tales I have to share:

• My exhilarating rise—though some have described it as more of a “flatline”—through NCAA Division I College Field Hockey. A very thin woman with a bionic knee plays a prominent role.

• A ruthless exposé of my personal encounters with some of the splashiest personalities in Hollywood. Cameos include Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and the late Pope John Paul II.

• Filming the movie Bridesmaids while simultaneously serving as a bridesmaid in real life. Art and life grew inextricable, and I slowly began to lose my mind.

• My platonic yet breathless pursuit of a turquoise-pants-loving second-grade student teacher named Ms. Romanoff—and how her Russian heritage would ultimately teach me that even though Russia might have interfered with our 2016 election, it doesn’t mean that the entire country is bad.

• Why being a mom is hard, but trying to remain rational while hungry is even harder.

In closing, I would like to share some writing advice I once received from an old graduate school professor:4 Write like your parents are dead. Free yourself from any harnesses or constraints that are keeping you from telling your truth. And do not worry about whether you are doing the right thing or the wrong thing. Just be honest.

Well, I don’t write like my parents are dead. I write like they are alive, thriving, and peering over my shoulder. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Aren’t parents supposed to be your moral guides? Not only do I not want to embarrass my mom or my dad, but I happen to think they have pretty good judgment. Also, I need them on my good side if I want them to keep giving fun grandparent gifts to my son. As far as being honest, I already told you that a lot of the details and dialogue here are made up.

I have learned that an Author must write what She knows. And I, for one, happen to know a lot about snacks. In fact, this book is not so much a tribute to brave women everywhere as it is a record of my favorite ice cream brands. So you see, I wrote what I knew, and I know what I wrote. I hope that you enjoy.


Ellie Kemper

1 Absolutely untrue.

2 The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but that is only because I watched the pilot in October, and then had to wait a full two months for the second episode! By then I was so frustrated that I didn’t even care anymore!

3 Referring to the cereal. Went waaay overboard at a “buy one get one half off?” sale at Fairway that week.

4 Found by googling “best way to write a book is what?”

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My Squirrel Days 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
ethel55 16 days ago
Whether you pick this up because the squirrel caught your eye, or you are already a fan of Ellie Kemper, you are in for a treat. This book of memoir-like humorous essays show that she has both an acute wit and memory. I laughed out loud at a few of the things she detailed and enjoyed reading through them all. Starting in Missouri, I enjoyed the pieces about her childhood and even a few visual aids, no doubt retrieved from her family home. She's pretty honest about some of the ease at which she was able to pursue improv classes after college graduation--but don't worry, some menial labor, albeit delicious sounding, is in there too.
KimBnAZ 17 days ago
Let me start by saying I think Ellie Kemper is adorable. Funny, genuine, the type of person you want to be friends with. Also, I never watched The Office, nor The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (though the latter has been on my to-watch list forever.) When this book came up as an advanced read, I had to read it. I wasn’t disappointed. The Ellie Kemper I’ve admired comes across loud and clear on the pages. She shares stories from childhood and adulthood that are sweet and comical. Stories that you can hear her telling in her own voice. I loved reading about her childhood creating plays that Ellie would force her best friend and sister to perform (have to admit, we used to be forced to do the same thing in my family.) Loved her stories about not being college’s greatest field hockey player, despite being her high school’s greatest. Especially loved the back story on auditioning for SNL. I am not a huge fan of autobiographies or memoirs. The only ones that I gravitate toward are those written by funny people, because let’s face it, life is pretty grim already. No one needs anything else depressing in their lives. And celebrity memoirs often feel like pages of name dropping (or name hiding) and a window into “look how great I am.” Comedians tend to be more self-deprecating and honest. So if you are in for a good read, not pee your pants funny, but humorous and honest, pick this one up. Can be read really quickly and in short bursts. Ellie is fun. I would love to have bike 12 right next to Ellie in the next Rooster SoulCycle class.
Anonymous 3 months ago
This was a cute, if typical, celebrity memoir. Ellie leaps off the page with a voice as effervescent and innocent as the characters she tends to play. While not a Bossypants level collection, Ellie shows true potential as a writer and it's enjoyable to spend 300 or so pages with her.
etoile1996 3 months ago
i love ellie kemper in unbreakable kimmy schmidt and in the office. so in the vein of mindy kaling's two books, my squirrel days feels very familiar. but i don't think this is a bad thing. ellie is a refreshing voice, her stories are funny and quirky and feel innocent and sweet in a way she can only pull off. her appeal is in her positivity too, and given the current state of the world, it's always nice to have memoirs like this to fall back on. it helps too that ellie and i are close in age to each other, her childhood memories remind me of mine. at the end of the day, this was the exact read i thought it would be, enjoyable, sweet, funny. it's exactly what i wanted. **my squirrel days will publish on october 9, 2018. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/scribner in exchange for my honest review.
Anonymous 3 months ago
2.5/5 Aside from watching her on The Office and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, I knew nothing about Ellie Kemper before reading this collection os essays. Now I would say I know the highlights, but this is a very curated collection of stories from her past. We don't see her struggling and she has a privileged upbringing (she went to Princeton and was supported financially in her young twenties). I enjoyed some of them, but most of them fell flat. She would relate two parts of her life into a single essay, which did not always work. My favorite of her essays were, Daughter, Hysteric, Bridesmaid, and Kimmy. I wish she would have talked about The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt more because one essay was not enough. Although, maybe she is saving it for another book. I do think this memoir needed more pictures, but I did enjoy learning about her. This isn't a collection on "how I became famous" or "how to succeed despite everything life has handed me". Her collection is her being humorous on various (occasionally boring) parts of her life.
3900980 3 months ago
Ellie Kemper is an actress who was on the TV sitcom The Office and who now stars in the Netflix hit show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. In her first book of very funny essays titled My Squirrel Days, Kemper who is from the Midwest, writes about her upbringing in a small town and her decision to try and break into showbusiness. Along the way she fell in love and had a child. She also has had interactions with many celebrities. If you are a fan of Kemper, as I am, the book reads as she sounds and speaks, meaning she writes in quirky fun language while always keeping the reader in the loop. The first essay titled "Hero" in which she tries to make her reader understand why she tried very hard to emulate and impress an assistant teacher back in grammar school who left such an impression on her she still do this day has a stuffed animal she received from her is adorable. The book's title comes from another essay in which Kemper tries to outfox a squirrel. One of my favorite essays is "Daughter" in which she decides to impress her parents by washing their car with brillo pads. And the reason is brilliant. My Squirrel Days is a very fun read about the life so far of a very funny woman/comedian/TV personality/wife/mother. I highly recommend this book. Please visit for more book reviews. Happy Reading!
Anonymous 22 days ago
I purchased this thinking it would be a fun read. I was wrong. Vapid musings from an out of touch Hollywood star. I had high hopes that were summarily dashed. This book was a waste of my time. A few hours I will never get back. Thirteen dollars I wish I could get back. Not very well written or edited. Not interesting.