Friday, February 19, 2016

Nonfiction: Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Because her first book was a little bit of a disappointment for me, I was hesitant to pick up Mindy Kaling's follow-up, Why Not Me? However, curiosity won out in the end, and I had heard really good things. Once the book secured the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Humor, I figured I needed to give it a chance.

Genre, Themes, History: This is a nonfiction book in which Kaling once again gives readers a glimpse into her day-to-day life. She already covered her childhood and early career in Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, so with this book we are able to jump right into her college life at Dartmouth, and her transition from The Office on NBC, to her own show, The Mindy Project, on FOX. The previous book had a list of ways Kaling was different from Kelly Kapoor on The Office, so this book contains a list of ways she is different from Mindy Lahiri. And thankfully, instead of ending the book with just a list of things that are in her purse right now, or the selfies that are currently stored on her phone, Why Not Me? concludes with a fantastic short fictional romantic comedy told purely through emails, and is more or less how she envisioned her life would go had she decided to be a teacher. The book walks an interesting line between showing how Kaling isn't that different from any other woman out there, to showing how her life is completely different from pretty much anyone out there who doesn't work in Hollywood. The woman has met President Barack Obama on more than one occasion! Even so, some of her other stories are still relatable, and the ones that aren't are at least fascinating and entertaining.

My Verdict: While I felt pretty "meh" about her first book, Kaling's follow-up was fun, funny, refreshing, and even kind of eye-opening. She mad a lot of great points that either made me think or caused me to find myself nodding in agreement, in public, where other people could see me as I visibly reacted to a book. The points she makes about friendships, weddings, entitlement, and working hard are all worth considering, even if you don't find yourself agreeing completely. And like any great comedy writer, Kaling is able to laugh most of all at herself, but isn't so self-deprecating that it doesn't seem genuine, or just becomes annoying. I definitely would have liked for the book to be longer - 240 pages just isn't enough for me with a book that has parts that read more like a classy gossip column. Even so, I will take it, and am glad Kaling took the time to write it.

Favorite Moment: The fake email exchanges between Kaling, her coworkers, and her friends in the alternate universe where she decides to become a teacher instead of a writer for Hollywood. Even though romantic comedies aren't my favorite type of movie, it was definitely something I could see myself watching and enjoying should a screen version of the story ever come out. 

Recommended Reading: Again, I felt pretty "meh" about Kaling's first book, but if you want a little more background and information, I recommend Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me. But as for another memoir, I recommend Yes Please by Amy Poehler. And as for a romantic comedy I think Kaling herself would enjoy, I recommend Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.

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