The Book of Annie By Annie Korzen
‘Seinfeld’ to TikTok fame, Annie Korzen pens tales of life lessons in “The Book of Annie.”
By: Lauren Keating
Actress Annie Korzen was once most famous for her recurring role as Doris Klompus on Seinfeld. But thanks to Gen Z and Millennials, the 85-year-old has newfound fame—on TikTok.
There amid the endless stream of GWRM (“get ready with me”) videos, viral dances, and Taylor Swift conspiracy theories are viral humorous clips with rhetorical questions or pearls of wisdom given by the Jewish New Yorker.
Her decision to get on TikTok follows the same mentality Korzen had towards taking her role on an unknown sitcom at that time. Why not?
“I learned the importance of saying ‘yes.’ Another actress turned down the role of Doris Klompus. The show was unknown at the time, and she thought the part was too small,” Korzen said. “When my agent asked if I wanted to audition for it, I said, ‘Yeah, why not?’ No one knew the show would become a global sensation and that Doris Klompus would become a recurring role.”
This “why not” approach to life is one of the many topics explored in her book, The Book of Annie: Humor, Heart, and Chutzpah from an Accidental Influencer.
The book is not a memoir but rather a collection of stories in the “literary art form of the personal humor essay.” Through her experiences—both the good and ugly—she hopes to change how people think when planning their lives or playing by specific rules they think they need to feel fulfilled.
The storyteller hopes to inspire people. And that is precisely what this book does. Korzen calls her mistakes in life valuable lessons, which only happen if you “learn from them.”
Korzen has the ability to paint the scenes of her stories in such a colorful way, told as if she is chit-chatting with a close friend. Her vibrant energy exudes from the pages, and the reader quickly falls in love with her as a grandmother figure we want to know. (Those who have fallen in love with Korzen on TikTok will especially love listening to her recite the pages as an audiobook.)
Korzen tackles taboo topics honestly, and the reader is left full after feasting on Korzen’s life lessons and truths about the world.
Topics span from relationships to work, parenting and motherhood, and more prominent themes of happiness and aging. The book is filled with entertaining tales and sprinkled with pieces of advice. The cherry on the cake is that she is down to earth and has guidance worth listening to. Her messages resonate thanks to her humorous and authentic approach to such topics.
And it is a delicious read that one can devour in one sitting. (The reader will quickly learn how much Korzen loves food. Please read that funny Oprah story!) The following is a little taste of what Korzen serves in The Book of Annie.
Stuff Won’t Make You Happy
The book opens with exploring the meaning of a happy life. And while nice things are nice, material things will not make you happy—no matter how rich or poor you are. And no matter how much you like to shop, the stuff will always just be stuff.
“We need a comfortable home, satisfying work, and to be surrounded by people we love,” Korzen said. “We’ve been brainwashed into thinking the stuff, fame, and money will make us happy. “We’ve been fed a lie.”
For Korzen, it’s the little things in life, like seeing the magic of a Broadway show. Or random fleeting connections made on a subway ride that are missed, thanks to always being on our phones.
“They’ve actually done scientific studies on this, and the answer seems to be to surround yourself with love: from family, friends, co-workers, neighbors. I’ve sometimes had a happy day as a result of a conversation with a random stranger. People need people, just like Barbara said.”
You Are Probably Dating The Wrong People
The topic of love is also explored in The Book of Annie as she makes sense of the success of her longtime marriage to her husband Benni. For starters, she was able to find her match prior to the creation of online dating.
“The problem with dating apps is that people lead with ‘I,’” she said. “‘I like walks on the beach,’ and look to be matched with people who, on the surface, like exactly the things they like to do. This is the mistake. You need someone who is supportive, loyal, and who is their own person.”
Korzen said the key is finding someone you won’t be bored with. And instead of checking off every box, the most important thing is to have someone there for you when you need them.
So, what’s her secret to a happy marriage? “Those moments of generosity.” For Korzen, love is that warm feeling when you come home to your partner.
“If you lived with me for a week, you wouldn’t think I had a happy marriage,” she joked as she spoke on the typical bickering and arguments all relationships have. “Find someone who is truly interested in what you do.”
Her advice is to appreciate the conventional, everyday things—even if your partner isn’t one for Hallmark holidays filled with red roses and candy hearts. For example, her husband is at every performance or makes her a home-cooked meal. “Read between the lines,” she said.
Stop Ghosting Friends
It might be easy to move on from a romantic flame that fizzled, but Korzen values friends like family. She takes a bold stance in the book on not cutting friends who may have hurt you from your life. “Before you cross them off your list, try to forgive,” she advised. “One moment of bad behavior is not enough of a reason to ghost them.”
While this doesn’t mean keeping toxic relationships, weighing the loss of a long friendship over one mistake may not be worth blocking them—especially in older age.
“It’s challenging to deal with it [a strained friendship], but not solving it makes it worse. My friends are my fortune.” So, know you’re worth it, but know when it’s worth it to bend broken fences. Life is too short.”
Supermom Is A Myth
Kozen takes a very realistic approach to motherhood and parenting in The Book of Annie, sugar-coating nothing. This includes the bitter taste of accepting the fact that if you are a mother, you cannot have it all. And that’s a big pill to swallow because society has made the modern woman feel like they can do it all: a career, marriage, household, and make every sporting game, and piano recital, and still squeeze in happy hour with friends. And that’s just one day out of the week.
Women are often overworked and burnt out. “You can’t have it all,” she said. “Men have more than women, but no one can have it all. You can’t be the world’s greatest mom AND then the world’s greatest pilot. Don’t buy into the lie.”
She makes it clear that she supports whatever choice a woman makes: homemaker or working mother. “No matter your choice, you have to decide which choice is the most comfortable for you,” she said.
Korzen says that while your child wants their mother at home baking cookies when they get home from school, they will get over it.
She writes in the book that, eventually, your child will resent you for something at some point. This fact is brutal, but it’s better to have Korzen rip that Band-Aid now. It’s part of parenting and doesn’t make you a bad mother for putting yourself first or doing what you think is best for your child.
“They will forgive you when you aren’t there,” she said, putting an end to mom guilt. “There is pain from the child wishing their mother can be home making dinner or take them to every soccer game, but for the modern women, there may also be pain from the woman who wants that career and more out of life than being a homemaker. Whose pain is more important?”
Korzen doesn’t shy away from her parenting struggles, including postpartum depression and shame around her birthing experience. This section looks back on the expectations and flaws society had on mothers then, how it’s changed, and what women face now.
When it comes to birth and childrearing, Korzen says that the rules will always change, so “make your own rules.”
There Is Beauty And Wisdom In Aging
One of the most insightful tips in the Book of Annie is the comments the author makes on the way society is changing its perspective on aging. No more does society see a white-haired elderly woman as just an old lady. People, thanks to platforms like TikTok, are seeing that there is a lifetime of wisdom under her thrift shop-bought belt.
With over 11 million likes, the new TikTok Queen connects with users of all ages, races, genders, and religions on the social media platform—all while proudly sharing her love for plastic jewelry and rhinestones.
“I am fortunate to enjoy young people looking up to an older woman for advice. There is a revival going on where older women are finally getting the respect they deserve,” Korzen said.
Being hailed a “Queen” on social media is not what she expected in this phase of her life, but Korzen welcomes it and continues to be unapologetically herself.
“Women are always criticized. We apologize for being too talkative, too opinionated, and too blunt. And we are taught these are not attractive qualities in a woman,” Korzen said. “The big miracle now is because of TikTok, these things are celebrated. This leads me to think, claim who you are.”
And it’s her authenticity that resonates with many.
“Do not be imprisoned by other people’s opinions of you. Instead of trying to fit in, celebrate your ‘otherness.’ What makes you different might be your most valuable quality.”