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Everyone Wants to Hang Out With Mindy Kaling

Photo Credit: Autumn de Wilde & Mindy Kaling

“Is everyone hanging out without me?” sounds more like a concern of Kelly Kapoor, because right now everyone wants to be Mindy Kaling’s best friend. The Dartmouth graduate—and now writer, performer and shopper with 1.5 million plus Twitter followers and a popular blog—charmed viewers with her ditzy girl act and boy-crazy antics on The Office. Now she’s impressing everyone who didn’t know she’s also a staff writer and director on the Emmy-winning show.

In her much anticipated debut book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) reveals much of her trotted journey to success—in and out of The Office—and concerns that occupy her mind. She starts from her innocent conservative childhood to the glory days of college to moving to New York City without a job and discovering she can play the role of Ben Affleck in her own off- broadway production. Not only did I finish the book in two days reading it in bed as Mindy said I would, but I also attempted to write this article in bed like Mindy writes her blog theconcernsofmindykalings.com, or drafts for The Office when at home–but I didn’t have the same restraint from napping as she apparently does. So I ended up at a Barnes & Noble, nursing one cup of coffee until I finished (also, Mindy’s recommendation).

That’s exactly what makes Mindy different. Revealing her unorthodox work habits, bad eating habits and cluttered office spaces; she makes claims like for every eight hours of work, she only has one hour of productivity. Maybe it’s exaggeration (because it’s cool to downplay genuineness, hard work and structure) or maybe it’s humble honesty. Either way, Mindy provides refreshing proof that not all successful women are type A, size 2, and “I Have My Life Together All The Time” women. Mindy makes “I’m a Mess” glamorous. I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel better about the organized chaos in my own bedroom.

Photo Credit: NewYorker.com & Mindy's Parents

Mindy shares stories from her young life, including childhood bullies, unrequited loves, bad days at the office…moments of the tears…moments of the rage. There are also moments when she holds back. She discusses the adversaries of being a regular size American woman, but doesn’t address the barriers of being a South Asian woman (perhaps because if you really are talented, with hard work you’ll make it despite cultural stereotypes). I wanted to know more about her relationship with her brother Vijay rather than the comedies of Irish Exits and Jewish Guys. Her fall-out with her high school girl posse seems too emotionally clean and her supportive immigrant parents seem all too supportive. However, in other times, she’s so vulnerable and raw, as if it’s an accident. In between being funny and writing a memoir, she exposes sentimental moments that are not ironic at all.

Even though she’s the funny girl, she often makes disclaimers before poking fun and ends up giving sappy, heartfelt advice; like you should enjoy spending time with your family when you are in high school, because “you only get 18 years to live with your family full-time, and that’s it,” and she hates“depressing zeitgesty magazine articles about relationships,” because she says, “Fewer and fewer people are believing it’s not cool to want what I want, which is to be married and have kids and love each other in a monogamous, long-lasting relationship.” She really is a Charlotte! Somehow, we expect the funny girl, the groundbreaking woman in the workforce, the unorthodox desi girl making it in the western world, to throw down the institution of marriage and look down upon hopeless romantics, but here, we have a girl still into traditions. She also says her parent’s marriage is a success because they are pals. Brilliant.

Being only 32 years-old, she makes you wonder: How old do you have to be–to have seen enough life, experience enough career success and gain just the right amount of fame (according to Mindy, of course)—to write a memoir and give valuable advice to the young? Her concerns are insightful, funny, and often ones that we’ve all pondered before. For example, hooking-up is confusing! Your best friend does have certain rights and responsibilities! Romantic comedies are unrealistic, but we love them anyway! She dots the book with references to mainstream and current pop culture, namedropping the best of last summer’s reads and movies (Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Bridesmaids, duh!).

Mindy is the self-proclaimed boy-crazy, an online shopper who memorizes her credit card numbers, and a young professional in Hollywood with traditional values. She’s redefining what it takes to make it in the wildly competitive industry. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) is part life experiences, part opinionated lists, and wholly engaging, smart writing that reads like your best friend’s blog. By the end of reading Mindy’s book, you get a whole new perspective on the modern day successful woman, all her concerns discussed, and multiple laugh-out-loud moments.

Have you read Mindy’s book? What do you think?

— TASHWEEN ALI

664 thoughts on “Everyone Wants to Hang Out With Mindy Kaling

  1. Yayay Tash!  Spot on review.  The book was entertaining, but this review is spot on.  I was also expecting a bit more.  However, it was a welcome distraction from the cold (I was outdoors).

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