What we’re reading: Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me?

Kaling's distinctive voice and personal stories make Why Not Me? an entertaining read.

Mindy Kaling’s latest book, Why Not Me? just landed the number one spot on The New York Times Best Sellers List, and it’s well-deserved.

Following her first novel, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), this book is a little hard to classify. Is it comedy? Satire? Memoir? A collection of essays? Amazon and Indigo can’t seem to agree on what this book is, but I can certainly tell you that it’s a great read.

The book, broken down into sections on work, love, fame and more, is refreshingly honest.

Kaling isn’t shy about examining her flaws and putting them on display for the entire world to see, which is part of what makes this hard to put down.

However, as much as I appreciated her honesty, there were times when I was taken aback by her bluntness.

Kaling once calls herself an “aspiring (can I still say this?) fag hag”, a term that means a heterosexual woman who spends much of her time with gay men. Kaling’s book is littered with little moments like this, where the language she uses is crass, sometimes bordering on offensive.

That being said, you can’t deny that Kaling is very, very funny, and her book sucks you right in.

I was reading Why Not Me? in class (which I don’t recommend — pay attention in school, kids!), and I could barely hold the laughter in. She’s very frank about what it feels like to do sex scenes — there’s a chapter called ‘I Love Sex Scenes!’ which pretty much summarizes what she has to say about them — and she definitely doesn’t hold back when she talks about boys either.

Kaling doesn’t take herself seriously at all. This means that when she’s telling us about the disastrous first encounter she had with a very important man from the White House, she’s able to make fun of the situation. It all culminates in a great chapter that had me literally crying with laughter.

Kaling’s frankness also extends to more serious topics, like dealing with anxiety and her body image. She uses her last essay, also entitled Why Not Me?, as a platform to talk about self-confidence. It’s a really touching essay; I hadn’t expected her book to end on such a sweet note.

She discusses how she once received a question at a panel from a young Indian girl asking, “Mindy, where do you get your confidence? Because I feel like I used to have it when I was younger, but now I don’t.”

That question hit me pretty hard, and I think that’s true for almost everyone who will read this book. Kaling says she gave a bad answer that day and that her last essay was her way of correcting that. It’s inspiring, funny and sweet — everything I needed to hear, but hadn’t realized yet.

She tells us all to be entitled, to believe that we do deserve the best in life, but to also work hard and earn that sense of entitlement. The idea that entitlement isn’t a bad thing is something that’s new to me, but it’s good advice.

If you’re looking for a quick, funny read, this book is the one for you. 

Tags

book, mindy kaling, Reading, Review, the mindy project

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