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My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 7, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco (June 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780061875038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061875038
  • ASIN: 0061875031
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (272 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #690,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“It’s a terrific book!” (Kathie Lee Gifford, The Today Show)

“Poignant...hysterical...While there are plenty of books with women ‘taking a year,’ don’t dismiss this one.” (

“In this lighthearted and often funny memoir, Hancock...brings her experiences to vivid life and, through her interest in and compassion for Eleanor, is kinder to herself; there is plenty to entertain and inspire.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A charmingly candid memoir of the year a young journalist spent conquering her deepest fears.... Inspired, white-knuckled fun from start to finish.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Whether she is confronting terrifying sharks in a diving cage or her tangled feelings about her boyfriend Matt, she demonstrates how thrilling it can be to face your fears. I double-dare you to read this book!” (Booklist)

“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)

“Noelle Hancock makes an eloquent case for spending a year with Eleanor Roosevelt, but an even more persuasive one for spending 300 pages with Noelle Hancock. Her book is a fresh and funny delight.” (Andy Borowitz)

“Noelle Hancock joyfully shows us the exhilaration of confronting fear, whether that fear is jumping out of airplanes or having a committed relationship with another adult—or reading something longer than a tweet.” (A.J. Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically)

“Beneath the hilarious and heart-racing adventures of Noelle Hancock’s year of fear is a wise and heartfelt book about becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be.” (Jill A. Davis, New York Times bestselling author of Girls' Poker Night)

“I honestly loved this book. It had all the qualities of great sex; intense, funny, and parts of it were so uncomfortable my palms were sweating.” (Jim Norton, New York Times bestselling author of I Hate Your Guts)

From the Back Cover

After losing her high-octane job as an entertainment blogger, Noelle Hancock was lost. About to turn twenty-nine, she'd spent her career writing about celebrities' lives and had forgotten how to live her own. Unemployed and full of self-doubt, she had no idea what she wanted out of life. She feared change—in fact, she feared almost everything. Once confident and ambitious, she had become crippled by anxiety, lacking the courage required even to attend a dinner party—until inspiration struck one day in the form of a quote on a chalkboard in a coffee shop:

"Do one thing every day that scares you."
—Eleanor Roosevelt

Painfully timid as a child, Eleanor Roosevelt dedicated herself to facing her fears, a commitment that shaped the rest of her life. With Eleanor as her guide, Noelle spends the months leading up to her thirtieth birthday pursuing a "Year of Fear." From shark diving to fighter pilot lessons, from tap dancing and stand-up comedy to confronting old boyfriends, her hilarious and harrowing adventures teach her about who she is, and what she can become—lessons she makes vital for all of us.

More About the Author

Noelle Hancock is a former staff writer for the New York Observer. She was the founding writer of Us Weekly magazine's entertainment blog and helped launch the website for the popular gossip column Page Six. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, GQ, the New York Post, Maxim, Cosmopolitan,, and Gawker, among other publications. Noelle frequently offers pop culture commentary on television, including VH1, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, and Fox & Friends. She was born and raised in Houston, Texas. and now lives in Manhattan with her parakeets, Jesus and Stuart. Her parents are still holding out for law school.

Customer Reviews

Upon finishing the book, I felt an odd loneliness... like a friendship was coming to an end.
Andy The Girl
I can see why the author grew as much as she did, and came to have a tremendous appreciation for Eleanor as well.
J. Butler
You'll be holding your breath and laughing out loud as Noelle faces her fears and shares her journey.
Joanne Johnson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Anne Pann on March 28, 2013
Format: Paperback
I am in a book club of women between 55 and 90, and none of us cared for this book, other than the parts about Eleanor Roosevelt. From all the postive reviews, I can only guess that it appeals more to younger women. My personal view, which may sound a little harsh, is that the author, whose one over-riding fear seems to be not winning at everything she does, wanted to write a book but needed material, so she created this concept of doing things she was afraid of. This seems to be a trend in publishing, perhaps started by "Eat, Pray, Love" and the book about the girl cooking Julia Child recipes (also see "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver) -- authors pitch an idea to publishers that involves setting up some kind of challenge for themselves for a year and then they write about it. It's the eqivalent of a reality TV show. Most of us found her challenges superficial and somewhat forced. One person commented "She went from writing about celebraties to trying to become one herself by writing a book about herself." Way too much narcisism here. She has good writing skills, but needs a subject that has some substance.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By MONeil on July 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I sat down to read this book, I was prepared to laugh. Having been a fan of Noelle's blog, I knew she was a hilarious writer. I was not, however, prepared to be completely and totally inspired. I began reading with the intention of reading a chapter before bed, and before I knew it I was done with the book in three hours. I couldn't put it down. Noelle had me laughing and tearing up, riding the emotional rollercoaster along with her and loving every minute of it. The novel is so relatable, it's a testament to growing up and dealing with all of the insecurities you acquire along the way. From facing up to ex-boyfriends to realizing how to handle serious relationships to jumping out of a plane to climbing a mountain, Noelle was incredibly inspirational throughout her journey. I'm not a huge fan of cheesy how-to-live-your-life books and this couldn't be more different, yet it really did give me the strength to think about what I'm most afraid of, and think of how I can change that. Plus, it made me really wish for a Dr. Bob in my life. A truly touching read.... with a large dose of a badass lead character.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Andy The Girl on July 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was so excited for Noelle's book release that I literally stayed up late on a *school* night and waited until it was available to download onto my Kindle. Noelle's writing is so honest and personal that there is universal voice there; you are included and immediately feel like you, too, are along for the ride: The Year Of Fear.

So many parts were so meaningful to me, that they warranted being highlighted along the way, or I had to stop and call my sister to read her certain quotes - from Noelle, not Eleanor. These phone calls and debriefing sessions were the only thing standing in the way of a straight-through read. Upon finishing the book, I felt an odd loneliness... like a friendship was coming to an end. However, I had learned to fret not, so I did two things: 1) started re-reading my favorite chapters and 2) picked up a new hobby inspired from the book that had previously been something I feared. This book was a godsend...
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Kramer Bussel VINE VOICE on June 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Normally I'm somewhat wary of "I tried __ for a year" memoirs, but this one is delightful, inspiring and offers some history lessons. When Noelle Hancock learns that her entertainment blogging job has ended, she's at a loss as to what to do. In therapy, she's trying to overcome her fears, and she decides to look to Eleanor Roosevelt for advice, latching on to the First Lady's prompt to do one thing each that scares you. Hancock doesn't detail 365 feats, but the ones she does are at turns dramatic (shark diving, trapeze work, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro), unnerving (working at a mortuary to conquer her fear of death), amusing (doing standup comedy is the thing she fears most) and more everyday (weaning herself off sleeping pills). Along the way she writes about her fears about whether her boyfriend's reporter job will always outshadow her and the future of their relationship.

What I appreciated most is that Hancock is not trying to tell everyone to apply Eleanor's advice, and she grapples constantly with being "ready" to face her fears, taking her last sleeping pill when she is forced to by the mountain climb. She isn't overly self-deprecating, but does bare her fears in a way that makes it almost impossible not to like her as a narrator--or look inward at one's own fears. She also shines a bit of light on some of the major accomplishments of Eleanor Roosevelt, and while the two are from very different times, the effect Eleanor has on the author is clear in her references and devotion to living according to her spirit. This memoir never feels predetermined, and Hancock's insights into her accomplishments are as worthy of attention as her feats themselves, especially relating to Kiliminjaro. She shows an empathy and compassion that extends to her friends and those she meets (including the dead) as well as to herself.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By BrooklynDwella on June 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If this is the first type of these books you've read than it's a nice intro to the gimmick. The writing is breeze-y. There are some good laughs.

However, most of it is ... either hard to relate to or hard to believe... (the author is a shut-in with only four close friends that she stays in social contact with other than her boyfriend, which... not a shut-in. The author was laid off and her world view was shook up? Except she was supporting an expensive sleeping pill, NYC apartment and therapy habit? Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro was about overcoming a fear and not about 'seems like a good idea and more interesting to write about and how am I going to get this book advance to pay for itself?' This book is written like a woman who got an advance and had a fun year. It doesn't feel like she's overcome much if you skip over the therapy sessions.
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