Please note: My “Reading Reflections” are not reviews. They are simply my thoughts in response to certain passages.

To whomever found my website by searching “i’m addicted to novels again” — congratulations! That makes me so happy.

(But ironically, today I am posting about non-fiction.)


BOSSYPANTS is really more of a collection of humorous personal essays than it is a true memoir. That said, it does cover Tina Fey’s life from childhood to present day, and it offers insight to her personal life as well as her career. I can’t say that every story was a hit, but I did laugh out loud on more than one occasion.

(Also, I found the background story on the Sarah Palin SNL skits to be particularly interesting. Now I kind of wish Seth Meyers would write a book too.)

This is what I tell young women who ask me for career advice. People are going to try to trick you. To make you feel that you are in competition with one another. “You’re up for a promotion. If they go with a woman, it’ll be between you and Barbara.” Don’t be fooled. You’re not in competition with other women. You’re in competition with everyone. (88)

Underneath Tina’s humor and humility is a noticeable streak of feminism. The normal, non-obnoxious kind. The kind that comes from loving women and believing they deserve equal opportunities. The kind I also subscribe to.

We women have a reputation for being catty, but honestly? In my life, most of my greatest champions have been female. My mother, my lifelong friends, one of my writing professors, certain coworkers, and now my writing group. From what I hear, this is not always the case for women, and that’s a shame. We shouldn’t just be not competing with one another; we should be building each other up, encouraging each other, offering support.

(Well, I suppose all of humanity should be doing that for one another, really. Feminism is in many ways a subset of humanitarianism.)

If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important Rule of Beauty. “Who cares?” (114)

This line — and her whole section on beauty, really — not only made me laugh, but also made me feel better about myself. She’s a smart, funny, successful, and beautiful woman, and she still struggles with all the same issues I do. If she can shrug it off, then maybe so can I.

“The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30.”

This is something Lorne has said often about Saturday Night Live, but I think it’s a great lesson about not being too precious about your writing. You have to try your hardest to be at the top of your game and improve every joke you can until the last possible second, and then you have to let it go. (123)

Note to self: success does not come from perfection.

You have to let people see what you wrote. It will never be perfect, but perfect is overrated. Perfect is boring… (123)

Second note to self: what she said.

One of the worst parts of all this was that I learned what it felt like to be a lightning rod. I got some hate mail, and there are definitely people who will dislike me for the rest of my life … On an intellectual level, this doesn’t bother me at all. On a human level, I would prefer to be liked. (234)

I think this relates to my previous post about watching what you say on the internet. Because while you do want to take care with your words, you don’t wan’t to be stifled by fear. Be smart, not silent. Otherwise you’ve lost without ever trying.

Do your thing and don’t care if they like it. (145)

Easier said than done, but for creatives, it’s good advice nonetheless.

11 responses to “BOSSYPANTS by Tina Fey”

  1. Pseudo Avatar

    You really write a great review.

  2. Shari Avatar

    I loved her book – besides being laugh-out-loud funny at times, it also had such a streak of grace and insight woven into the pages. The background to the Sarah Palin skits was one of my favorite parts, too, and I also loved the way she talked about motherhood. It may have been unconventional, but it was also really sweet.

    And that quote about letting people see what you wrote? Best line of the whole book!

  3. Margot Avatar

    Good post! This has been on my to-read list for a long time now. Might just wait until it comes out in hardcover or a cheaper version shows up at The Strand.

  4. Juliann Wetz Avatar

    Thanks for sharing all this, Kristan. Now I want to read the book.

  5. Aisha Avatar

    Ah I loved this book! My favorite parts, besides some of the parts you mentioned, were about how improv rules changed her outlook on life, her theory on how women in the industry are regarded as crazy after no one wants to fuck them anymore (remniscent of the “Rosemary’s Baby” episode of 30 Rock), and this hilarious couple of run-on sentences:

    ‘During my nine years at Saturday Night Live, my relationship with Lorne [Michaels, her boss] transitioned from “Terrified Pupil and Reluctant Teacher” to “Small-Town Girl and Street-wise Madame Showing Her the Ropes” to “Annie and Daddy Warbucks (touring company)” to one of mutual respect and friendship. Then it transitioned to “Sullen Teenage Girl and Generous Stepfather,” then to “Mr. and Mrs. Michael Jackson,” then, for a brief period, to “Boy Who Doesn’t Believe in Christmas and Recluse Neighbor Who Proves that Miracles Are Possible,” then back to mutual respect and friendship again.’

    I re-read that paragraph at least 6 times because I thought it was so funny. I love Tina Fey!

  6. Stacy S. Jensen Avatar

    Thanks for sharing those lines. I had moved on to the other books in my “to be read” list. I’m going to add this now, so I don’t forget.

  7. Joelle Wilson Avatar

    Now on my library reading list. Thanks for posting the review.

  8. Sonje Avatar

    I, too, loved this book. It’s actually made me consider writing my own “memoir.” I put memoir in quotation marks because, as you said, it does cover her life from childhood to present, but the point of it (as far as I could see) was to be funny and not to reveal “the real Tina Fey,” which no book can ever do anyway, so why not go for fun? That’s the kind of memoir I’d write.

  9. Kristan Avatar

    Thanks! I don’t mean this to be a review, exactly… Just a response to my reading. :)

    Yeah, I don’t think I realized that she really identifies with being a writer more than an actress or comedienne.

    Hah, I can totally see you loving this book, now that I think about it. And Tina Fey in general. And yes, haha, that line was hilarious.

    I felt like I got a sense of Tina Fey. Obviously not a complete picture, but more insight and background than I had before, certainly. And underneath the sarcasm and humor were veins of truth and reality.

    That said, hehe, yes, I could definitely see you writing a memoir like this.

  10. Jon Avatar

    Awesome review. I really have to pick this one up!

  11. Brian D. Buckley Avatar

    This book’s been tempting me for a while, I might have to grab it one of these days. I flipped through it a bit and it seemed really funny.

    I loved that you added so many quotes, by the way. It made the book seem more real.