So here’s the thing: I don’t read enough non-fiction, so while on a holiday I decided to read Mindy Kaling’s “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)”. And I liked it. So I figured I’d read her second book as well, Why Not Me. And I don’t know what she did different for that second one, but, well… It worked.
From the author of the beloved New York Times bestselling book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and the creator and star of The Mindy Project comes a collection of essays that are as hilarious and insightful as they are deeply personal.
In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behaviour modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.
In “How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet’s Confessions”, Kaling gives her tongue-in-chee secret for surefire on-camera beauty, “Your natural color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn’t the land of appropriate – this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman’s traditional hair color is honey blonde.”) “Player” tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. (“I had been replaced by a younger model. And now they had matching bangs.”) In “Unlikely Leading Lady”, she muses on America’s fixation with the weight of actresses (“Most women we see onscreen are either so thin that they’re walking clavicles or so huge that their only scenes involve them breaking furniture.”) And in “Soup Snakes”, Kaling spills some secrets on her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and close friend, B.J. Novak (“I will freely admit: my relationship with B.J. Novak is weird as hell.”)
Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.
Again, this is a collection of essays, so there’s not technically like one overarching plot, but still – this sums it up pretty nicely, doesn’t it?
That conversational tone that I enjoyed so much in Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me is back, and I’m all about it. Another welcome return: Mindy Kaling’s humour, her ability to laugh at herself, and all the funny stories.
However, I remember feeling as if Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me missed something. I’m still not entirely sure what that was, but here’s the good news: Why Not Me DOES have it. More so than in Kaling’s first book, I found myself wanting to keep reading, to find out what else happens and what else she has to say.
Where Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me slowed down significantly after the first half, in this one that’s where the best bits got started. An example: her explanation on Will (no spoilers, I promise!) wasn’t just a lot of fun to read. It also showed how she has grown since writing her first book, if that makes any sense? I feel like there was an essay on dating in the first one as well, and that was definitely handled in a different way than the Mindy Kaling from the second book would have.
(Also: this is SO me:
It’s funny when you decide you don’t like someone. I am the kind of person who, if my feelings are unrequited, can completely detach from someone emotionally if I simply put my mind to it. That’s why I’m always saying I would be a great serial murderer.
So, okay, maybe not that last line, but I totally do that! (Although I always described it as: “turn them into the mental equivalent of a toad.”))
The essay that touched me most, probably, was her belated reply to a girl asking her “How she got to be so confident”. So much of what she wrote in there just had me going OMG YES. Risking the spoiler here: confidence is something you earn and you get it from working hard. (Quick question: then why am I not more confident?)
Just one final note: that essay where Kaling imagines what her life would have been like if she’d never moved to Hollywood? The. Best. Thing. Ever. I need Mindy Kaling to write a full romance novel. Or several of them. You know what, just make a tv-series about it!
As you probably noticed: where I loved Kaling’s first book, I LOVED this one. To the point where I actually considered giving it 5 stars, even! It was funny, it was such an easy read, there were so many thought-inducing moments. It had me reconsidering a couple of things, and at a couple of points I actually laughed out loud. As in: not the LOL-kind, but the kind where you’re in a park and people look weirdly at you because who on earth just sits on a bench laughing at nothing. That’s how good this one is.
If you feel like you want to give this one a read as well, you can find it on Amazon! (affiliate link)
And if you’ve read this one already, please let me know: what did you think about it? Are you with me on the “She needs to write a romance novel”? What’s your attitude on the whole “confidence”-thing? Be sure to let me know below!