Review: Bossypants

Bossypants by Tina Fey. Reagan Arthur Books, an imprint of Little, Brown. 2011. Audiobook narrated by Tina Fey (Little, Brown 2011). Listened to audiobook, borrowed from the library. Vacation reads (aka, when I talk about books for grownups and post them before holidays. St. Patrick’s Day counts.)

It’s About: Tina Fey writes about her life.

The Good: Tina Fey writes about her life. Or, rather, in this case because it’s an audiobook, Tina Fey talks about her life, so it was like I was carpooling with Tina Fey for a week and she never shut up and it was AWESOME.

It’s Tina Fey’s book, goshdarnit, so she writes what she wants to — about different things in her life, primarily about her career but also some personal anecdotes as well. This is not a linear autobiography, but rather a story of a journey to being the creator and star of 30 Rock.

So, yes, this is funny; and it shows the path to where she is now. You want some laughs, you want to find out how she got into the TV business, you’ll enjoy this book.

I wasn’t going to read this book; oh, yes, I appreciate Tina Fey’s work, but it’s not like I was a fangirl. Then Sophie Brookover told me I had to read this, not just read but listen to Bossypants, because of what Tina Fey says about gender and being a working woman and working hard and being accomplished and sexism. And, well, when Sophie tells you to something, you do it.

And now I am a fangirl. Because yes, Tina Fey is funny and I laughed myself silly but even better, Tina Fey is smart and observant and knows how to explain just what is wrong and why and what to do about it, about work and life and feminism and careers and everything. And much as I loved carpooling with Tina Fey, now I want to buy the book so I can mark it up for all the quotes I’m going to be using forever.

Don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions; go over, under, through, and opinions will change organically when you’re the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing, and don’t care if they like it.” This, this, this. Who cares. Just do. your. thing.  Note she’s not saying to be quiet, she’s not saying not to do your stuff, she’s saying don’t waste energy on closed ears and don’t let that stop you from your path. Tina Fey (I’m sorry, we’re not friends so I cannot call her Tina) also makes terrific points about women being bosses: not because women are better or smarter or more compassionate but because being the boss means you can do your thing.

And this: ““My unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism, or ageism, or lookism, or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: “Is this person in between me and what I want to do?” If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.” Of course, the trick here is determining whether the person is indeed between me and what I want to do. And note again, the reason to be in charge — to control who you work with. Or who you don’t.

And this, about the falseness and reality of competition: ““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 for 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.”

And, finally, (and finally only because otherwise I’d be quoting the entire book) when someone talks to you in a way that is demeaning, insulting, or bullying (her context is being called the c-word but I think it works in other areas): “A coworker at SNL dropped an angry c-bomb on me and I had the weirdest reaction. To my surprise, I blurted, “No. You don’t get to call me that. My parents love me. I’m not some Adult Child of an Alcoholic that’s going to take that shit.”

So. Yes. Read this book. And of course it’s a Favorite Book Read in 2013.


4 thoughts on “Review: Bossypants

  1. I also listened to Bossypants (i) I didn’t want any other voice than Ms. Fey’s telling me her story; and (ii) that cover is so ugly I knew I couldn’t stand looking at it while reading the book. There are so many brilliant quotes and advice about working. I think this will be the gift for all college graduates – male and female.

    I recently finished listening to Mindy Kaling’s book Is everyone hanging out without me?, which is also funny, insightful and astute about sexism in the workplace. She is the narrator and, as a comedian, is able to deliver the lines and also be honest and poke fun at herself when necessary. This is not an easy feat. Give it a try.


    1. agreed, that it would be good for both men & women. I haven’t listened to Kaling’s book, I’ll add it to my to-be-listened-to pile.


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