Book review: ‘Why Not Me,” by Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling’s second book, “Why Not Me?” is a collection of comical coming-of-age essays and honest commentary on dating, family, friends and the entertainment industry. The follow-up to Kaling’s bestselling debut book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns),” “Why Not Me?” is self-assured without being arrogant and has earned Kaling an invitation into the small circle of celebrity authors.
Chapters with names such as “How to Get Your Own Show (and Nearly Die of Anxiety)” introduce charming, relatable and often cringe-inducing anecdotes from Kaling’s endlessly fresh voice. Throughout the book, her sense of humor and comfortable style of writing make you feel as though you are reading a well-written Facebook status update from a quirky-cool girl you met at that party you went to one time.
As someone who has exhausted every available season of Kaling’s TV show, “The Mindy Project,” in a series of late-night binge sessions, I was impatiently awaiting the release of “Why Not Me?” for my Mindy Kaling fix, and I was not disappointed. In addition to making me look smart while killing time at various appointments, Kaling’s second book offered advice I imagine might have come from the cool older sister I never had.
In many chapters, she tells cautionary tales about acceptance or divulges details about her short-lived stint as a sorority girl. In the appropriately titled chapter “Mindy Kaling, Sorority Girl,” she accepts the fact that being “the funny one” in college often meant she was very rarely laughing for herself. Later, in “Player,” she relives a rather surreal friendship with an almost-famous girl named Greta, acknowledging that breaking up with a friend is often harder than breaking up with a significant other.
In part two of four, titled “Take This Job and Love It,” Kaling opens up about the entertainment industry, dropping hints about “The Mindy Project” and offering a peek into her life. In “Coming This Fall!” she opens your eyes to the 10 most ridiculously played-out plot lines on television, including such hits as “neurotic sensitive guy is also unhappy” and “boy-man must face the adult world.”
However, in addition to the light and quick stories, Kaling tackles issues such as body image, feminism and racism with candid, confident opinions that are never overwhelming. In “How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet’s Confessions,” Kaling reveals what it really takes to get women in Hollywood looking as flawless as they do. She confronts the stigma about size in “Unlikely Leading Lady,” addressing her own insecurities and owning up to her own acceptance.
“Why Not Me?” is a relatable, honest representation of experiences we all endure. Kaling’s second collection of essays is an undeniably important and effervescent read for those of us just looking for a laugh and a little reassurance.
Emma Nelson is a bookseller at Off the Beaten Path.
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