Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) is a collection of essays by the comedic television actor, writer, director and producer, Mindy Kaling. Mindy writes mainly about her life, while offering advice or opinions on the side. The book comes across as a mix between hearing someone tell their life story and listening to a string of stand up jokes that might go along with that story.
I read an article earlier this week that pointed out that if you read this book along with the Tina Fey’s book, Bossypants, and Amy Poehler’s book, Yes, Please, that you will feel like you have gained three best friends and confidants. While I haven’t read Amy’s book yet, I would totally agree with this assessment. Because the three ladies also narrate their own stories, listening to these books really does feel like you are having a one-sided (at times, two-sided) conversation with these funny people.
What I appreciate most from Mindy’s story is learning how real she is. Because of her talent and perseverance, she has come very far from the young girl being made fun of for being too chubby in high school, but she has shared if not many of the same experiences as myself then definitely some of the same feelings. While we are fans of The Office, I did not really come to appreciate Mindy’s comedic timing and writing abilities until she had her own show, The Mindy Project. I really like the show, and so I was expecting to hear some about how she got her own show and what it was like writing a show that revolves around your own character. I didn’t realize that the book was published a year before she had even pitched her show’s idea to Fox. I imagine that it wasn’t until after her show became popular that her book started to take off as well. I guess I would say that perhaps she wrote her book a bit too soon. I wonder what must go through someone’s head to think I have had enough success that the masses would be interested in reading my story. So, my main criticism of the book is that it is a bit premature. I feel like this is what Obama’s memoir might be like the year before he ran for president. While his story would still be impactful, it would feel like it is missing some major moments of importance.
I would recommend the book to friends whom I know have enjoyed Tina and Amy’s books. I am sure that people who enjoyed The Office and then subsequently The Mindy Project would really like to hear more about who Mindy Kaling is as a person. Because I am familiar with Mindy’s comedic style, I feel like I understand better what she was aiming for with some of her jokes. Many of her comments were in a way muttered as a sidebar, which I would say is very common on her show. Listening to the story is especially fun and I would recommend it over simply reading the book.