Friday, February 3, 2012

Nonfiction: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

I have yet to read Bossypants by Tina Fey, but I think I can go ahead and say that this book is not like Bossypants by Tina Fey. So if you just finished Bossypants and are picking up this book thinking it will be just like it or just as good, I think it is safe to assume (from what I gather from other reviews) that you will be disappointed. Mindy Kaling even says so in the beginning of her book.

Genre, Theme, History: We can't really call Kaling's book an autobiography since 1. I think she is too young to be writing an autobiography, and 2. it is really more of a memoir, although even that does not quite fit. It is more like a collection of essays that anything else because as is proved by the last quarter or so of the book, Kaling does not yet have enough material to write a full-on memoir or biography.

The book of course talks about Kaling's childhood and growth through college and into adulthood, and eventually gets to where she is now, a writer and actress on the NBC television show The Office. Throughout her story are anecdotes from Kaling's ongoing issues with her size and weight. And there are also more than a few discussions about just how famous she wants to be, what kind of fame she wants, and what she would like her future to look like regarding her career, love life, and wardrobe.

My Verdict: The best moments in the book come from Kaling talking about her road to becoming a writer on one the most popular television comedies in the U.S. today. The middle of the book was by far my favorite part as I enjoyed Kaling's honesty about her personal trials in her attempts to break into the business. She does not hold back on some of her most embarrassing moments in the business, including her less than memorable stint as a guest writer for Saturday Night Live. Of course, she has plenty of successes to share as well. But as great and endearing has that part of the book is, the last 40 pages or so are a rambling mess. It is as if once Kaling tells us about The Office she really has nothing left to say. At one point the reader is seriously being shown the pictures that are currently on Kaling's Blackberry. And the part that I found almost depressing was the chapter where Kaling tells exactly how she wants her funeral to play out. It is not that I think the idea of planning your own funeral at 34 is morbid...I plan mine every time I start a new journal (I really don't know why I do this so don't ask...I don't have an answer), it is just the way she goes about it and what she wants to happen that makes me incredibly sad all of sudden after reading such a seemingly joyful book. Overall, I gave it three stars on Goodreads, and I at least recommend it to fans of The Office, even if you don't like Kelly Kapoor. 

Favorite Moment: I actually will have to go with the very beginning when Kaling lists a series of considered but ultimately rejected alternative names for her book. My favorites are "The Girl With No Tattoo" and "Harry Potter Secret Book #8." Ha!

Recommended Reading: Born Standing Up by Steve Martin. This book is also an easy read but Steve Martin, who I feel is old enough to write an autobiography, tells his life in such an honest and frank way that does not hide his trials and hurts, but with the same sense of humor his fans have come to love so that his honesty is not at all painful to read, but just, well, honest. It reads more like a conversation than a book, and who wouldn't love to have that talk with Steve Martin?

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