Book Club: Why Not Me?
Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling
I read Mindy Kaling’s first book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? a few years ago. It was funny, but I found it to be kind of annoying. Don’t get me wrong - I like Mindy Kaling in theory but to be honest, if I knew her in person, she sounds like the kind of person who’d exhaust me because I’m really introverted and she seems like she could talk forever. I took a chance and downloaded her second book as an audiobook and I had a very different experience with this book than I did with her first. Here are my thoughts.
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 behavior 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-cheek secrets for surefire on-camera beauty, ("Your natural hair 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 "Player" tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. ("I had been replaced by a younger model.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 in their life or career can relate to. And those who've never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.
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Let me clear the air - I like Mindy Kaling but I don’t think she and I would make good friends. Why? Because as much as I enjoy her refreshing opinions on a LOT of things, she strikes me as someone who could talk your ear off on anything and as an introvert, I’d have to spend a couple of days alone talking to no one before spending one afternoon with her. I think that’s what I had trouble with when I read her first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? I found her opinions really funny and relatable, but she just had a LOT of opinions. I liked reading it but after a while, her presentation of her opinions became grating and nit-picky to the point where I just got annoyed with her annoyance on things.
With Why Not Me? I had NONE of those annoyances I had with her first book. I loved her new book a lot more than I did her first. All of the gripes I had with her first book are gone. She talks about different chapters in her life in a much more balanced and insightful way that I really appreciated - this was not present in her first book. It just seemed like she’s done a lot of maturing and growing since then and I feel like I could actually be her friend now. Even the opinions she has that I disagree with, she was introspective about and I could understand where she was coming from.
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I especially loved her story on her friend-breakup with a cool girl. I related to that story on almost a spiritual level. I’ve been a friend who was deemed “not cool enough” and was slowly left behind. In 3rd grade I had a friend who was popular but growing up in a Korean family, she and some of her other friends came over to my house, smelled kimchi and they all said it “smelled weird,” and none of them spoke to me again. While my story is a bit different than Mindy’s story of trying to fit in in Hollywood and accidentally offending an anti-vaxxer (I’m #teammindy on this one), it’s nice to read that I’m not alone.
I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially women! If you’ve read her first book and liked it, you should definitely read this one. If you read her first book and didn’t like it, I think you should give this one a try - it will surprise you!