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My Year with Eleanor

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  6,269 ratings  ·  869 reviews
“I honestly loved this book.”
—Jim Norton, New York Times bestselling author of I Hate Your Guts

“Eleanor taught Noelle that, first and foremost, Courage Takes Practice. Her yearlong quest to face her terrors, great and small, is moving, enriching, and hilarious—we readers are lucky to be along for the ride.”
—Julie Powell, bestselling author of Julie & Julia

In the tradition
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by Ecco (first published June 2011)
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Kira The quote was used in that speech (it was the SPEECH that was originally attributed to Kurt Vonnegut, not the quote), but that doesn't mean that Elean…moreThe quote was used in that speech (it was the SPEECH that was originally attributed to Kurt Vonnegut, not the quote), but that doesn't mean that Eleanor Roosevelt didn't say it 50 years before that. It seems to me to be one of those things that many people say and very likely goes back as far as some of the Greek or Roman philosophers or even the ancient Hindu Vedic literature. It is a sensible approach to life and I am sure many people said it before Eleanor Roosevelt did and many have said it since. Just because you found one instance online where someone else said it, that doesn't mean they originated the concept.(less)

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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  6,269 ratings  ·  869 reviews

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Sometimes the right book comes along at just the right time in our lives. This turned out to be such a book for me. (Which is surprising because I almost abandoned it. I'm glad I stuck it out to the end.)

"My Year with Eleanor" is a memoir of a young woman who decides to face her fears. Noelle Hancock was inspired by an Eleanor Roosevelt quote: "Do one thing every day that scares you." Noelle was 29 and had just been laid off from her media job in New York City. She had no idea what to do next an
I read this for a book club, or I probably would have abandoned it. I found the first part of the book incredibly difficult to get through - the entire concept of the "year of fear" felt self-indulgent and gimmicky. Noelle spends the first few weeks of her year signing up for activities like trapeze classes and trying to hook up in closets at weddings, and then writing about it in a way that's supposed to be breezy and funny but ends up being cliched and cringeworthy. It's even worse because the ...more
Nov 19, 2012 rated it liked it
I think they call this genre "stunt nonfiction" - do something for a year, blog about it and then get a book deal. I had two of these books to read, this one and one about a Kiwi guy whose goal was to work on every continent in the world before he was 30.

When I started Noelle's book, I found it quite irritating. Judging by the photo on the back cover she's attractive, she's got the perfect boyfriend, a well off family, she's able to live off her savings and get freelance work while she looks for
Jan 09, 2013 rated it did not like it
This book is horrible! I would not even give it a star if it were possible. I like the premise of this book, about conquering your fears and becoming a better person. In fact, I did a similar project myself years ago. What really turned me off about this book wasn't the poor quality of the writing or the author's selfishness; rather, I felt the book was disrespectful to Eleanor Roosevelt in many ways. The author used her as a gimmick. Eleanor Roosevelt overcame her fears and used that empowermen ...more
(3.5) Inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt, who said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do” and “Do one thing every day that scares you,” Hancock, a former entertainment blogger, decided to live by the latter dictum for a year. She does karaoke and stand-up comedy, tries circus trapeze classes and skydiving, volunteers at a funeral home and climbs Mount Kilimanjaro. Along the way, she also faces some more personal situations with the help of her therapist, like her sleeping pill addiction and ...more
Laura Murdoch
Jan 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
Noelle Hancock, author, reads on the wall of her favorite coffee shop the quote by Eleanor Roosevelt to do something every day that scares you. Since she was recently laid off from her job as an entertainment blogger, she decides she has the time and the resources to take Eleanor's advice. She does things like sky diving, diving with sharks, and hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro as well as running down the hall of her apartment building naked. I liked the concept of stepping out of your traditional comfort ...more
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Objectively, this isn't the greatest or most literary memoir I've ever read, or even the most inspiring. That being said, if you're a therapist working with anxious clients who would like to recommend a book that isn't overly clinical or self-helpy, this is a good choice. It's a readable and engaging story which relates to both exposure and mindfulness concepts and can inspire some good, relevant discussion. ...more
Sep 20, 2018 rated it liked it
A pretty fun book overall. It's in the category of books where an author decides to do something for a year & then write a book about it. In this case, the author is having a young-life (age 28 or 29) crisis after she got laid off from work. She decides to follow advice from Eleanor Roosevelt & face her anxieties by doing one thing a day that scares her. `(There is some debate about that really being an Eleanor quote, but c'est la vie -- the book still works regardless.) The book highlights the ...more
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ummm so I really did love this book, but for reasons to follow I could not in good readerly conscience give it 5 stars. I don't even feel totally comfortable giving 4 stars.

I think the book, as a concept, had a lot of potential. I’m a big fan of the Eleanor Roosevelt quote the book is centered around (“Do one thing every day that scares you”) and Eleanor herself in general.

However, I found it very difficult to connect with author Noelle Hancock (former gossip blogger). The way she talks about o
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I confess right now that I was a bit dubious when I started this memoir, apprehensive that I -- not much of a celebrity gossip fan -- wouldn't enjoy what this former celebrity blogger had to say or care about her year of transformation.

Boy, was I wrong.

By page five I was ready to like Hancock and by page twenty or so, was totally charmed by her. Erroneously I had mentally decided Hancock's Manhattan-centered world and celebrity blogging meant one thing, but in reality, she was like any of my fri
Nov 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, 2011
This is another of those "do-something-for-a-year-and-write-about-it" books, which is so trendy, but I thought this one was well-written. After losing her blogging job, Noelle becomes inspired by an Eleanor Roosevelt quote about fear and decides to spend a year doing things that scare her.

One of the best parts was the stories she mixed in about Eleanor's life. I knew very little, and it was neat to learn what a cool, revolutionary lady she was. I am inspired to read more about her. She wrote th
Apr 02, 2012 rated it liked it
I liked this memoir but I didn't absolutely love it. What I appreciated was the honesty. Reminiscent of: Eat, Pray, Love, Julie and Julia, 1000 Miles in a Hundred Days or The Happiness Project, the author is searching to truly find herself and redefine who she is. Based on a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, "Do one thing every day that scares you," the author pursues a year of fear. Some of her exploits are funny (trapeze lesson) while others (service in a hospital) are poignant. However, what I enjo ...more
Aug 07, 2011 rated it liked it
This was rated 3.5 jewels on my blog:

This was a tough book for me to rate and review. It was one that I enjoyed greatly at times and then became mildly irritated with at certain points.

I agreed to be on the tour because the "memoir" was promoted as being akin to Julie Powell's "Julie and Julia" which I adored. The fact that I have always admired the amazing and inspirational Eleanor Roosevelt sealed my decision to read this book.

My Year With Eleanor does have tha
Apr 13, 2015 rated it liked it
"I'm not presumptuous enough to think I'll ever be as fearless as Eleanor. But she taught me that courage is a muscle. It needs to be exercised often or it'll weaken." (pg. 290)

I really liked the concept behind this book. I've often considered what my own life would look like if I did one scary thing every day, so I was interested in Noelle's journey and how she applied that quote to her life. She tackled a mixture of big adventures (cage-diving with sharks, skydiving, trapeze) and more everyday
Jun 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
LOVED this book more than I thought I would. Hits on a lot of ideas close to my heart, sometimes it was uncomfortable to read because it was so accurate. I've always loved Eleanor Roosevelt's "do one thing every day that scares you" line, which is the basis of the book. Noelle, the author spends the year between her 29th and 30th birthday doing just that. The fears she overcomes range from physical ones like diving with sharks, to every day ones like renegotiating a bill. The book is intersperse ...more
Mar 22, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I admire Hancock's courage to actually try to do one scary thing a day. I found myself both admiring her courage (she did some things I would NEVER do...even though they really scared her) and wondering how important it really is to conquer your fears. On the one hand, I know that changing our thinking can really help us overcome fear...most of the things we fear will never actually happen. And I know that conquering fears can be very motivating and empowering. On the other hand, ther ...more
Oct 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Too much Noelle, not enough Eleanor.
Brooke Mackenzie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pam Kirst
Nov 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
My mother went to a Fresh Air camp when she was a Depression kid growing up in a big city. She was flattered there to be chosen as one of a special troupe of folk dancers who'd perform for some special guests.

After the performance, the dancers formed a line and shook the special guests' hands. One lady in particular drew my mother. Mom said to her, "You remind me of Eleanor Roosevelt, but you're much prettier."

The lady, my mother said, threw back her head and laughed till tears came.

When she got
Cristina Guarino
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, memoirs
Full review at my blog,!

I bought My Year With Eleanor at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in Manhattan while waiting on a friend. I was pretty hesitant to buy it, I'll admit, not because I was unsure of the book but because $25 seemed like a pretty steep price to pay for a hardcover that just clears 300 pages. In fact, if the timing weren't so perfect, I'd be kicking myself right now for finding it on Amazon for only $15. But I had a good feeling about the b
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I read this book during Dewey’s 24-Hr Readathon this past October and it was a great light happy-go-lucky book to read during a sunny day in the fall. There was a lot of chaos going on in my life, so it was refreshing to read a book about someone else looking for changes in their life. There were some points where I found the author self-indulgent, but on the other hand, who am I to judge someone who’s taking action to make herself happier? At least she didn’t just whine about it without any act ...more
Dec 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I originally picked up this book because I think Eleanor Roosevelt is one of the best role models a woman could have. She is full of wisdom and wit and overcame many obstacles in her life to become a great leader and advocate. The author uses a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt to inspire her to conquer her fears for a year. Freshly laid-off from her job in New York, (where she earned 6 figures) the author decides to take a year off and do something everyday that scares her. The result is a story tha ...more
Hancock is a funny, snarky writer but that is not enough to carry this memoir to the heights to which it seems to aspire. I like the idea of conquering a fear a day for a year -- and I completely admire Eleanor Roosevelt -- but the book came off as shallow much of the time, not at all embodying ER's ideals. I'm thinking the publisher may be, at least in part, to blame for the fluffiness. And it seems Hancock realized this deficiency, as she sprinkled this concern a few times throughout the book. ...more
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
It's probably unfair, but I struggled to relate to the author, who I thought to be a little immature, naive, and entitled. The concept of this book seemed a bit forced and fabricated, a bit "I need to come up with a good book idea, and what the heck, this one sounds pretty cool", rather than her being truly inspired to address her fears. I found this a little insulting. But I did get some good take aways from the book, and the author grew on me. Her final adventure was a good one, and she had so ...more
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
I skimmed through the last 50 pages, tired of Noelle's constant self-reflection. This reads more like a published blog or "Dear Diary." The positive takeaway is that I want to read more by and about Eleanor Roosevelt. ...more
Patrick Devlin
Apr 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really a great, inspiring and fun book

I truly enjoyed reading this book more than any in recent memory. Watching the author do one scary thing a day and how she grew throughout the year was really inspirational.
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I am a sucker for a great "year in the life" type of memoir. I've read about people who have cut out sugar for a year, grew their own food for a year, homeschooled for a year, didn't buy anything for a year, lived without electricity for a year, and who tried to be happier for a year. Now I can add to that list "faced their fears everyday" for a year.
The premise was incredibly intriguing: after discovering a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt (whom I adore), the author felt called to do something that
Jun 08, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Memoir of Young Woman

Noelle Hancock finds herself vacationing in Aruba when she loses her job during the 2006 recession. She can't find another one and moves from NYC back to Texas Texas with her family. She has a lot of anxieties and fears and uses a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt facing one's fears to do an assortment of activities, including sky diving and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. I had trouble figuring out what their s book wanted to be for a long time, the quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt we
May 17, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, this was a decent read. I really related to Noelle’s struggle with anxiety and perfectionism stopping her from doing things like speaking up in meetings, being goofy, doing crazy things that she wouldn’t normally (like cage diving, skydiving, trapeze etc).

I love the hook of Eleanor Roosevelt, and doing one thing every day that scares you. It was inspiring, because I myself definitely prefer to be comfortable and not rock the boat, and I could definitely relate. I liked the first half o
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Do one thing every day that scares you. That's the Eleanor Roosevelt line that inspired the author as she approached her 30th birthday. And so she did - taking a trapeze class, skydiving, flying a fighter jet in a dogfight, working in a funeral home, diving with sharks, doing stand up comedy at an open-mic night, climbing Mount Kilamanjaro. She earned the nickname "Fearless" along the way.

There's an entire genre of these books - be a midlife woman who feels lost, find an inspirational woman, fo
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