Nora Ephron on Reading, Working, and Life

ephronWe lost our beloved Nora Ephron last year. But I still think about her. In particular, I’ve become obsessed with her horrifying predictions about my neck now that I’m heading into my 40s. She warned us in I Feel Bad About My Neck that no matter what you do, your neck skin goes south at age 45.

It’s foreboding.

Ephron would have been 72 this month. Along with the neck obsession, she has given us great advice on everything from writing to wearing a bikini.

Listen up! (via

In an interview with Charlie Rose, Ephron shared a lesson from her mother about the importance of work,

“[She] really conveyed to us that work was a great passion; that you couldn’t live without work. When you were asked what you were going to be when you grow up, the question was answered in terms of work—not in terms of motherhood or being married—it was what are you going to do.”

In her book, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, Ephron explains the importance of reading,

“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.”

She also shares this regret (along with a recommendation) in her book, “Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was 26. If anyone is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don’t take it off until you’re 34.”

Ephron’s second marriage was to journalist Carl Bernstein. It ended when she discovered that he was cheating on her—while she was pregnant with their second child. Her book (and subsequent movie starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep), Heartburn, is based on their relationship. From The Los Angeles Times obituary on Ephron:

“I highly recommend having Meryl Streep play you. If your husband is cheating on you with a carhop, get Meryl to play you. You will feel much better.”

Great advice, if you can manage it.

And finally, from her 2006 New Yorker essay, “Serial Monogamy,” Ephron’s version of YOLO: 

“My mother didn’t serve Yorkshire pudding, although there is a recipe for it on page 61 of  The Gourmet Cookbook. My mother served potato pancakes instead. I serve Yorkshire pudding and potato pancakes. Why not? You live once.”

Article Posted 3 years Ago
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