As a Christmas gift, my older sister surprised me with “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” by Mindy Kaling, better known as Kelly Kapoor on “The Office.”
I didn’t know whether I should be offended by the title (how’d she know that thought has crossed my mind on several occasions?), but I must admit it’s the best book I’ve read all year.
Considering 2012 just started, this may not be saying much. However, the fact that it frequently made me laugh out loud does say a lot, and I would suggest it to everyone looking for a good-hearted read.
Kaling’s tone makes you feel like she’s a charming, chatty friend speaking to you directly. Three words to describe this author are humble, humorous and honest — sometimes verging on TMI in certain stories.
The book is a series of essays and lists, complete with some semi-embarrassing, old photos scattered throughout. It’s broken up into categories, which include reflections on her adolescence, time in New York, Hollywood adventures and romance.
Kaling is not quiet about her quirks, which include having twisted revenge fantasies run through her head as she exercises and what makes her cry.
Familiar with her boy-crazy, ditzy character Kelly, I wasn’t surprised that Kaling is funny in real life.
What I didn’t know beforehand is that she’s an Emmy-nominated writer for the show, and she graduated from Dartmouth College.
Her big break came when she created a comedic sketch with her friend where they dressed and acted like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, appropriately called “Matt & Ben.”
Not only does she share her journey to fame, but also her experience of learning to embrace her inner dork and love her flaws.
She focuses on the futility of trying to mold one’s self to fit society’s standards — sharing anecdotes of a chubby childhood and difficulty fitting into designer dresses.
Kaling emphasizes the importance of friendship, offering rules like: “I will take care of your kids if you die” and “I must be 100 percent honest about how you look, but gentle,” explaining “I owe it to you to give feedback like a cattle prod: painful but quick.”
She doesn’t claim to be anything she’s not — with a chapter straightforwardly titled “I Am Not an Athlete,” which may just be the most relatable thing I’ve ever read.
In the first chapter she provides alternative titles to her book: “Harry Potter Secret Book #8” and “So You’ve Just Finished Chelsea Handler’s Book, Now What?”
Even if she had chosen one of these deceptively clever titles, a person wouldn’t be disappointed. The heartfelt humor within the pages makes it a must-read.