Friday, January 17, 2014

"Bossypants" {by Tina Fey} Book Review

AUTHOR: Tina Fey



PUBLISHER: Little, Brown Book Group

READING LEVEL: Adult (18+)

GENRE: Autobiographical Comedy

"Before Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update," before "Sarah Palin," Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.
She has seen both these dreams come true.
At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon -- from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.
Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy.

(Includes Special, Never-Before-Solicited Opinions on Breastfeeding, Princesses, Photoshop, the Electoral Process, and Italian Rum Cake!)"
*Book Summary found on

3.5 out of 5 Stars


“You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.”

Our discussion began as our fearless moderator Brooke took Tina’s advice and went for it! Brooke, dressed in full Tina Fey regalia, delivered a monologue similar to the beginning of each Saturday Night Live show. Tina, I mean Brooke, spoke of her love of Alec Baldwin, obsession with food and her highly praised book Bossypants. Brooke had all of us laughing!

Book Formats:
More than half of our members listened to the audio-book version of Bossypants, which was Grammy nominated thanks to the narration by Tina Fey. The remaining members read a hardcopy and were able to see many of Tina’s unforgettable childhood pictures sprinkled throughout the book. Either way, it’s a win!

Writing Style:
Bossypants is unlike a typical autobiography. Each chapter in the book doesn’t progress easily through her life as Tina aged, rather the chapters read more like the “best of” her quirky encounters from her life. 

Some of our members really enjoyed the ease at which you could pick up Bossypants, read a chapter and not have to retain what happened in previous chapters. Other members found it was difficult to connect to the book because there weren’t overlapping characters and stories to tie it all together.

Overlying Theme:

Brooke pointed out that many sketches Fey wrote for Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock, dealt directly with issues women deal with at home, at work and through the eyes of others.
We discussed four of these issues in great depth.

1.Unfair Judgment:

Tina cites many examples of snap judgments placed on her in chapters of the book: the scar on her face, personal low-points during the time she worked at the YMCA, gender restrictions during her days traveling with the improvisation troupe, becoming a mother & working mother, and hate-mail from people making assumptions.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Fey used those slights and put-downs to propel her forward and to make her stronger, self-assured and more outspoken.

We discussed that as women, it seems to be in our wiring to remember and relive the negative things that happen to us much easier than positive things. Which is true in for Tina Bossypants as well.

“I would not trade any of these features for anybody else’s. I wouldn’t trade the small thin-lipped mouth that makes me resemble my nephew. I wouldn’t even trade the acne scar on my right cheek, because that recurring zit spent more time with me in college than any boy ever did.”

2. Tina’s “Rules of Improvisation That Will Change Your Life and Reduce Belly Fat”:
Although hilarious, Fey makes these rules relatable to any woman, actress or not. The highlights of the rules, as found in Bossypants are:

1. Agree, or at least have the respect to understand another and their opinion
2. Say “yes” to doing something, don’t just sit there
3. But don’t simply say “yes”, say “yes…and…” don’t forget to contribute to the conversation or the resolution
4.  Make statements: speak in statements instead of apologetic questions, make statements with your actions and your voice
5. There are no mistakes, only opportunities

“Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.”

Our members felt the most difficult rule to follow is number four; we find that we’re asking questions in order to make everyone around us comfortable. We talked about overcoming this and being more assertive because it will solve problems faster and our voice will be heard.

3. Sexism vs. Equality in the Workplace:

This issue was rampant during Tina’s time traveling with her improv troupe and in the early days of her SNL career. Many people in her industry believed women were there to play supportive roles.

We discussed the hilarious Kotex Classic Ad that Tina devised; in that case men weren’t necessarily sexist, just ill informed. Our group spoke about similar situations where men have misunderstood us.
(View Kotex Classic Ad HERE)

We also talked about Tina’s comical experience with Photoshop and posing for the cover of a magazine. Throughout the book she explained the ridiculous expectations on women to look perfectly beautiful in every way.

Our group weighed in on how rampant these expectations of perfections is—we not only give these expectations to ourselves, but others put them upon us too. One of our members summed it up superbly, “confidence above any of our features is most beautiful.” 

“If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important rule of beauty, which is: who cares?”

4. Mommy Guilt:

Tina talks about several issues around the decision to become a mother, breastfeeding a baby, going back to work after a baby and the question of having an additional child.

These are things that many of our members have dealt with and we all agreed that the best thing you can do for any mom is to listen to her, be supportive and don’t give advice unless they REALLY ask for it.

When asking for help or advice, it doesn’t mean you’re a weak person it means you’re strong enough to admit that you need help or love with being a mom.

"Obviously, as an adult I realize this girl-on-girl sabotage is the third worst kind of female behavior, right behind saying "like" all the time and leaving your baby in a dumpster.”

Favorite excerpt from the book:

Most of us agreed one of the most likeable stories was what we like to call “Tina’s Incredibly Insane Week”. This occured when Fey played her first famous person (Sarah Palin) on the SNL opener, shooting scenes with Oprah Winfrey for 30 Rock and planning her daughter’s birthday party. 

“By the way, when Oprah Winfrey is suggesting you may have overextended yourself, you need to examine your f****** life.”

We all agreed the way Tina handled this week was with multi-tasking grace. She held her daughter’s birthday party to the same importance as meeting with Oprah Winfrey, which as many of our members are moms we relate.

Author Q&A:

It was difficult to find a written interview with Fey about Bossypants, she did participate in a 45-minute spoken interview with NPR about the book and here are some excerpts.

On her birth
"[My mom] was 39 when she delivered me. I think she had had my brother eight years earlier, and then in 1960s medicine, they had told her at some point, 'Oh, no, you're done. Don't even worry about it, dear. You're out of business.' And so I was a surprise."

On the criticism she got for playing Sarah Palin
"You can find this freshly posted as of yesterday. 'She should be ashamed of what she did to Sarah Palin,' which I think is a discredit to both me and former Gov. Palin. She's not fragile. And I'm not mean. And to imply otherwise is a disservice to us both. No one ever said, 'Oh, that Will Ferrell. He should be ashamed of the way he's conducting himself playing George W. Bush.' No one would ever say that."
On working with Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan
"They are different. It's funny because it's rare that we're all three together. The way that things are scheduled, I'll go on and it's either a day of all me and Alec ... or all me and Tracy. It's fun when we're all together ... but we kind of know each other by now, and we know the rhythm of who likes to shoot their coverage first and who likes to wait and go second."

On her mother forcing her to try on a bra over her clothes in J.C. Penney
"At the time it was horrifying. And I developed very early. I was probably in fifth grade getting a bra. I developed breasts so early and so strangely high that the bra was more to clarify what they were. That they were not a goiter or something. It was mortifying, but I can absolutely see making that same mistake because you transition as a mother from literally just pulling a booger out of that person's nose whenever you see one until at some point they assert: 'No, I'm a person. You can't fix my underpants on the subway.' "
On how women present themselves in comedy
"It's just such a tangled-up issue, the way women present themselves — whether or not they choose to put their thumbs in their panties on the cover of Maxim and judge each other back and forth on it. It's a complicated issue, and we didn't go much further on saying anything other than to say, 'Yeah, it's a complicated issue and we're all kind of figuring it out as we go.'

"In the episode [of 30 Rock called "TGS Hates Women"], we have a fake website called that the women at immediately recognized that it was their website basically and it was ... I don't have the answer. But I find it interesting that Olivia [Munn, a correspondent on The Daily Show] gets people who go after her on some of these sites because she's beautiful, and that's part of it. I think if she were kind of an aggressive, heavier girl with a Le Tigre mustache posing in her underpants, people would be like, 'That's amazing. Good for you.' But because she's very beautiful, people are like, 'You're using that.' It's a mess. We can't figure it out."


Language/Profanity: Heavy (20+ swear words including f***)

Sexuality: Moderate (women’s effect on men, women competing with other women)

Violence: None

Drug/Alcohol Use: Mild

Intense/Scary Scenes: None
Check out our all of our meeting details HERE to see photos, our menu and tons of other ideas for your book club!


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