Why Not Me? continues in the same vein as Mindy Kaling‘s last book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). Kaling, of The Office and The Mindy Project fame, is back with another down-to-earth, hilarious collection of autobiographical essays about her personal and professional life. In her previous book, Kaling focused mostly on the awkwardness of growing up and her early days in improv. This time around, most of the chapters revolve around her professional life as a writer and actor and the experiences she’s had in the business since becoming a TV star. She discusses working on The Office and the process she went through to create The Mindy Project–even taking readers through a typical day on set–to how she handles being in the spotlight. Obviously being famous has its positives and negatives, and Kaling is more than willing to divulge instances of both. She gets to work at a job she loves, but she has to deal with constant criticism of her looks. She was able to write her own show, which has a dedicated fanbase, but still feels less than gracious when she’s asked to announce Emmy nominations without being nominated herself. Kaling also lets readers into her personal life with some anecdotes about dating disappointments, what to bring to a dinner party if she’s hosting, and shallow friendships vs. soup snake friendships (read the book and/or watch The Office for that one). Kaling writes as if the reader is one of her closest friends, inserting jokes that catch you off guard and make you laugh out loud, and exposing something vulnerable and straight from the heart a few pages later. After you finish reading Why Not Me? you’ll feel like you’ve known Mindy Kaling personally for years.
I really love when the authors of autobiographical works aren’t afraid to let you see his/her less-than-perfect moments. Mindy Kaling is ready and willing to tell you about the times she’s been embarrassed, disappointed, ungracious, and over her job. I take an autobiography more seriously when the author is honest about these things because you don’t feel like they’re trying to gloss over their humanity. Kaling isn’t afraid to brag about meeting the President either, but she expresses it in a way that anyone who has a chance to meet the President would: a freak-out squee moment over having that opportunity. It makes me feel good to know people in Hollywood have the same insecurities and joys as everyone else.
I love hearing about what it’s like to work in other fields, and Kaling spent a few chapters discussing the process of writing and acting on TV shows, writing and pitching your own show, and spending a day on set. It sounds way more exhausting than I ever would have thought, and I really enjoyed hearing about a day in the work-life of somebody who I think has a pretty cool job.
Being a writer of comedies, Kaling offers a few fictional chapters. In one chapter, she imagines she’s having a dinner party and creates a humorous list of what she would like her guests to bring. Instead of asking for dessert and wine like a typical host, Kaling would like her guests to bring over an old photo of Colin Firth, a hot sauce she hasn’t tried yet, or a ukelele for a post-dinner serenade. In another chapter, she writes e-mail and text correspondences between an alter ego version of herself (if she had become a high school Latin teacher) and her fictional, gruff coworker who slowly comes to have a crush on her despite her silliness directly clashing with his seriousness. I loved these little breaks from the strictly autobiographical material because I got to see Kaling’s talent for writing comedy shine outside of my television screen. They made me giggle with pure joy and reminded me of her character Kelly from The Office.
If you’re looking for a light read that could have been written by your best friend, definitely give Why Not Me? a read.
Rating: 5 out of 5 soup snakes