Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Book Review: "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)" by Mindy Kaling [Birchbox Book Club August Pick]

For the purposes of this review, I'll admit, before reading this book I had no idea who Mindy Kaling was. Even when it came to name recognition, all I could muster up was that it was in someway connected to the term 'project' or 'experiment, and fell into the category of reality television (or so I assumed), information which as a general rule went directly to a lonely corner. That might not have been the wisest decision for someone who doubles as a TV critic (check out my reviews on WeGotThisCovered, but a) no one was paying me to watch/review her show, b) I have a strong distaste for reality shows, and c) I've never seen an episode of The Office (although it resonates with most of my generation) so her name and image were like a foreign language that I never had the please of  encountering before.

After reading "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)" penned by Mindy Kaling (who I now know is a writer from the highly acclaimed American version of The Office), I wish I had gotten on the bandwagon before it was actually a thing.

Kaling's book falls into the trendy memoir category. Oh, you haven't written one yet? Don't worry, there's still time. It's been a popular genre for a while now, but even after devouring a few dozen (some of my favorites having come from the only Purdue alumni I personally endorse, Jen Lancaster - GO IU!), I still enjoy a witty writer's take on life as long as it doesn't scream 'desperate for attention.' As a seasoned writer at this point, Kaling shares both her ups and downs in Hollywood, along with her rise to fame (err, fame-adjacent status?). Her anecdotes are mostly amusing, although there are a couple chapters that will probably only appeal to a niche group of readers - e.g. her favorite comedy moments. Now if she had listed her top ten teen drama moments, or scenes in action movies, or Twilight reference on network television, I would have been irrevocably hooked (Twilight reference intended).  

[side note: I once wrote a riveting paper in grad school correlating the Disney channel and Twilight based on an unprecedented number of references spread throughout their programming] 

Overall, I really enjoyed most of the chapters. I especially liked reading her take on growing up as an awkward minority on the East Coast. It had some personal appeal since I was the awkward white/Jewish girl growing up in inner-city Detroit that couldn't match but hoped desperately to blend in - which I managed to do better than my siblings, so #winning. But, there were also a lot of other things in Kaling's book that didn't hit me on a personal level (pretty much anything that didn't fall into the aforementioned categories, or relate to Los Angeles) and I still found wildly amusing in a very 'looking in from the outside' type of way.

In no particular order, here are some things that I learned from "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)" that I continue to find entertaining:
  • Gift bags at red carpet events that contain glitz, glamour, and galore (or anything actually worth having are a myth.
  • Steve Carell does NOT engage in idle gossip.
  • Someone will notice if you buy cupcakes four days in a row from the same designer cupcake boutique - and probably judge you.
  • Never judge a cover girl by the dress she's wearing on the cover - she might be sporting a swatch of canvas on the other side.
  • Most people it seems end up successful in Hollywood by some sort of uncanny luck.
  • Kirsten Dunst often plays the "ethereal weirdo" in romantic comedies.
  • Comedy writers are big on lists.
  • Mindy Kaling takes her selfies seriously.

You can pick up a copy of "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)" by Mindy Kaling here or on the Birchbox site.

Thank you very much to Birchbox for introducing me to Mindy Kaling, and very generously providing me with a copy of this book for review purposes. (And, no, they did not compensate me in any other way for this lovely review).

Stay tuned for my review of "Little Big Lies," the Birchbox Book Club September pick, which just arrived on my doorstep yesterday.