Favorite Nora Ephron Quotes

I loved Nora Ephrons’ movies, especially “Sleepless in Seattle” and “When Harry Met Sally.” I also loved the wit and grit she demonstrated in her books. Ephron was all about “real life” – and she was able to translate her personal stories and experiences into great entertainment. Yesterday marked one year of her passing. To celebrate Ephron, I’ve compiled some of my favorite quotes:

Ephron loved to read and she had a family who encouraged reading. Her parents were both screenwriters and encouraged the arts.I feel the same way about 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 faced adversity in her life, as most of us have, but she was known not to wallow in self-pity and I love this quote.

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”

Here’s a quote from her 1996 commencement speech at Wellesly College, great advice from someone who knew the importance of making trouble.

“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.”

This is classic Ephron, contemplating the life and death…bread and chocolate. While the whole word wages a war against carbohydrates she states the obvious – they taste so good!

“Here are some questions I am constantly noodling over: Do you splurge or do you hoard? Do you live every day as if it’s your last, or do you save your money on the chance you’ll live twenty more years? Is life too short, or is it going to be too long? Do you work as hard as you can, or do you slow down to smell the roses? And where do carbohydrates fit into all this? Are we really all going to spend our last years avoiding bread, especially now that bread in American is so unbelievable delicious? And what about chocolate?”

I think this is hilarious, my 82-year-old mother-in-law still dyes her hair and I don’t blame her. As much as I would love to get rid of this chore, I just couldn’t do it.

“There’s a reason why forty, fifty, and sixty don’t look the way they used to, and it’s not because of feminism, or better living through exercise. It’s because of hair dye. In the 1950’s only 7 percent of American women dyed their hair; today there are parts of Manhattan and Los Angeles where there are no gray-haired women at all.”

I have curly hair, need I say more. I don’t wear it curly, so it’s work to straighten it out. Sometimes I’d love to just shave it off!

“…the amount of maintenance involving hair is genuinely overwhelming. Sometimes I think that not having to worry about your hair anymore is the secret upside of death.”

I love this quote because it reminds me of when I go shopping for shampoo. It just seems like there are so many choices out there, it’s maddening!

“The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.” – Joe Fox/Nora Ephron



  1. This post, by the way, was such a fun read. I bonded with Nora again – a renewed sort of friendship – at the first excerpt about reading. I feel the same although it seems she makes more time for it than I do.

    And then there is Starbucks. That place is scary to me. I don’t want to deal with so many decisions when all I really came for was a cup of coffee. If I came in for coffee, that probably means I NEED coffee. Cannot deal with all that decision making without coffee in me. So I gave up. I brew my own most excellent cups of coffee before I have to go anywhere or do anything other than stumble into the kitchen soon after I open my eyes to the morning.

    • I totally agree with you! It’s ridiculous! I make my own coffee but that’s where she’s so brilliant…she takes the mundane and really makes you think about it!

  2. Cristina Kilberg says

    This read was such a nice summertime break…Love the Nora Ephron quotes -each a gem. She’s right on the money or as you point out – makes you laugh out loud. She will be missed, luckily her words live on. Have a sudden urge to see Harry met Sally immediately..

    Starbucks is a bit much agreed, perhaps like sudoku may help keep the mind sharp! I just order their breakfast sandwiches and even then I read all the choices every time and then cant remember which is the one I like. Haha. Overwhelming just being on line there.

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