Mindy Kaling is my new best friend. Or at least it seems that way and after reading her debut book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns) you’ll feel like she’s your best friend as well. Mindy and I have a lot in common-we’re both from hard-working Boston families and we’re both full-figured women with overpriced college educations- but you don’t have to identify with Mindy to enjoy her book.
You may know Kaling from the hit NBC series “The Office” where she plays the ditzy, gossipy Kelly Kapoor. Unlike her character, Kaling is bright, articulate and insightful. She is also a quadrupole threat, wearing the hats of actor, producer, writer, and director of several episodes of the show.
Part memoir, part rambling stream of consciousness, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is a short, simple read (Kaling herself says that if you spend more than two days reading it then something is seriously wrong with you). In the book, Kaling writes about romance, all-important female friendships, and career mishaps and successes. Kaling takes the reader on a laugh out loud journey from her early childhood in Boston, to Dartmouth, to her breakout off-Broadway play, to “The Office” in the form of short stories, essays, and “pliests” (a term Kaling made up to describe a piece with a list-y quality). While I was disappointed to see that the essay on Mindy’s adorable costar (and rumored ex-boyfriend) B.J. Novak didn’t make it in the final version, Kaling spills plenty of inside stories about Hollywood and life on the set of “The Office”. “People are always asking me what my castmates on “The Office” are really like”, states Kaling, “Is Steve Carell really as nice as he seems? Is John Krasinski as cool as Jim in real life? What about Rainn Wilson; is he as big an egomaniac as Dwight? The answers are: yes, yes, and much, much worse” (104).
While Kaling asserts that she is only marginally qualified to dispense advice, she is a strong role model for intelligent, socially awkward young women. Kaling gives hope to women who don’t fit into society’s conventional standards of beauty (she openly admits she is a size 8). At the same time, Kaling offers pearls of wisdom and offers up social cues, “I don’t think stress is a legitimate topic of conversation…No one ever wants to hear how stressed out anyone else is, because most of the time everyone is stressed out” (75).
If you’re looking for a light, funny read, I highly recommend “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)”. While you’re at, be sure to check out Mindy’s blog to read more of her musings and ongoing concerns.