Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns) by Mindy Kaling. Crown Archetype. 222 pp.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns) by Mindy Kaling. Crown Archetype. 222 pp.

The only thing I knew about Mindy Kaling before reading this book is that she played Kelly Kapoor on the US version of The Office, a show that’s grown on me immensely over the years. Oh! I also Twitter-stalked her one afternoon and she seemed funny. (I later learned that she wrote the Office episode where Michael burns his foot on a George Foreman grill, so I now know she’s funny.) Those two things were the driving forces behind my purchase of this book — well, that and the fact that it was cheaper than Tina Fey’s Bossypants, which is the reason I was on Amazon’s site at all that day.

I expected this to be a series of humorous anecdotes about Kaling’s life in showbiz. Yes, there are some work-related stories included, but this reads more like a quippy autobiography than a collection of essays, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Mindy portrays herself as a successful Everygirl; her writing style is mildly self-deprecating, but she still manages to remind the reader of her talent. It’s a hard balance to strike, but she manages to make herself sound impressive and relatable all at once, and that (to me) makes her immensely likable.

After reading about Mindy’s childhood, her budding love of comedy, and her triumphs (and mishaps) in the world of Hollywood, I became a fan, not just of The Office but of her. I will admit that I expected this to be a laugh-out-loud sort of memoir (closer to Aisha Tyler’s Self-Inflicted Wounds, which I also loved), and it wasn’t, but that didn’t detract from my reading experience. In fact, I couldn’t put it down because I couldn’t get enough of her dry humor and ability to make me smirk while reading. The only thing about this book that irked me — and it isn’t a big deal, but I can’t help but notice — is that the title has absolutely nothing to do with the book.

All in all: I enjoyed Kaling’s tone so much that I’m hoping to find time to check out The Mindy Project. And for someone with limited free time, that’s saying something.

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