Book review: ‘Bossypants’ by Tina Fey

What’s more awesome than Tina Fey? Having Tina Fey ride around with you while you run errands. Listening to the writer, actress and comedian’s memoir of life in and out of the spotlight was a delightful experience, especially for a reader who channels Fey’s “30 Rock” character Liz Lemon on a daily basis. Unintentionally, of course.

“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.” (Goodreads)

It’s hard not to love Tina Fey, and Bossypants was exactly what I expected: an entertaining, mostly light-hearted look at Fey’s childhood, formative years and ascension to the superstar-level popularity she enjoys today. The title should have been a giveaway, I suppose, but I wasn’t expecting quite as much on how what it’s like to be a woman in power. The media peppers her with questions like, “Is it hard to be the boss?” — and Fey, with her trademark wit, speaks honestly. I liked her answers, but it was just . . . different.

Though I was completely immersed in the memoir, parts were more interesting to me than others. Not going to hate on my girl, but I didn’t find her details surrounding her stint on “Saturday Night Live” to be nearly as compelling as her tales of a fateful childhood with a bad-ass father and teacher mother. I might be alone in that, but I was hoping for more anecdotal over-shares from her youth. A “late in life” baby, Fey had a short-lived rebellious streak as a kid — and her teen years played out as an exercise in geekiness. I totally got that — as well as her uncanny ability to fall in love with unavailable (read: gay) young men. All right up my alley.

Part of me wishes we’d just stayed in childhood, though. I laughed the hardest as she described her dad’s charisma and cool factor, and as she detailed her nerdy exploits as a teen. That’s not to say I wasn’t still thick in the narrative as we got into adulthood, but for me? Much of Fey’s appeal is her bumbly championing of the Everywoman. She’s funny without really trying to be funny, and that’s my kind of humor. (And maybe yours, too.) Those stories shine best as she describes her awkward years, though I rooted for her as she entered the “SNL” fray and delivered her iconic Sarah Palin impression.

Bossypants will be especially intriguing to those who enjoy behind-the-scenes peeks at life in show business — and Fey delivers. Here’s the thing: if you like Fey, you’ve probably already read this book or have serious plans to obtain it. I listened to it on audio, a genius move on my part — because really. Tina Fey. Telling you hilarious stories while you drive to Target. Doesn’t get much better than that. And if you don’t like/care about Tina Fey, I’m probably not going to convince you Bossypants is up your alley . . . because it may not be. If you think Fey is hilarious, read it (it’s quick). If not, you may want to pass.

4 out of 5!

ISBN: 0316056871 ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazon
Audio copy borrowed from my local library

14 thoughts on “Book review: ‘Bossypants’ by Tina Fey

  1. You know, I’m not a frothing-at-the-mouth fan. I don’t watch 30 Rock, or SNL on a regular basis. But everyone KNOWS her, and more than anything I admire her from afar because of her high octane position in the entertainment industry, while managing a family. So I actually loved that part of her book…how she manages to have it all and keep all the men in check. But OMG the stories about her youth! The whole thing was freaking hilarious. I have never laughed so much during an audio book!


  2. I really love Tina Fey but haven’t had a chance to read this book yet. Looks like I’ll have to add it to my reading list. Thanks for the recommendation!


  3. Yes, yes, and yes. I loved this book too, and listened to it as well. When I was done, I promptly bought a copy of the print version for the family. My husband started it, said “I don’t think I have enough estrogen in my body to read this,” and then couldn’t put it down.

    I agree that her childhood and teen years stories were the wonderful, but my absolutely favorite part was the honeymoon cruise.

    I watch 30 Rock semi-regularly, but the book definitely made me appreciate what she did with that show much more.

    Great review of a funny book that has its poignant moments as well as its insights into modern life.


  4. I enjoyed the behind the scenes SNL parts and the honeymoon story the most, but honestly the entire book was great. I listened to it in two days. If anything, it wasn’t long enough.


  5. The consensus seems to be that this book is best as an audiobook. I already read it and didn’t absolutely love it so probably won’t go back and listen to it. But it did make a fun read and was quite entertaining. I didn’t laugh out loud as some people have so maybe her humor just isn’t for me. Still, it was an interesting and worthwhile read.


  6. Agree–a must listen for Tina Fey fans! But I felt the opposite of you–I was more interested once she began talking about 30 Rock than I was in the other stuff. The childhood stories were great but once she started discussing Second City my interest waned a bit. But, still…LOVE Tina Fey.


  7. I bet the audio book is awesome. I read a print version of the book and agree with you, she is the every-woman, the awkward but proud nerd/geek, and I laughed out loud through most of the book. But it could have ended sooner than it did (in other words, I, too, like Tina Fey the early years better)


  8. Is this a Tina Fey Lovers Anonymous meeting? My name is Jessica, and I, too, am a Tina Fey lover. And I loved Bossypants. I’m kicking myself for not listening to it! Agreed, not every chapter had that “zip,” but those that did more than made up for it. My favorite chapter was the “Mother’s Prayer for Her Daughter.” Priceless! I need to print that out and frame it!


  9. I loved this book! But I agree with you. It seemed like she put more time and effort into the childhood stories, and then kind of got in a hurry at the career part, or maybe couldn’t think of any good stories? As a huuuuge SNL fan I really enjoyed that part, but I did want more! I loved listening it on audiobook with her voice. Hearing her tell some of the stories made it more laugh out loud hilarious!


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