Published by Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group on September 15th 2015
In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it's falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you're constantly reminded that no one looks like you.
In "How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet's Confessions," Kaling gives her tongue-in-cheek secrets for surefire on-camera beauty, ("Your natural hair color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn't the land of appropriate–this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman's traditional hair color is honey blonde.") "Player" tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. ("I had been replaced by a younger model. And now they had matching bangs.") In "Unlikely Leading Lady," she muses on America's fixation with the weight of actresses, ("Most women we see onscreen are either so thin that they're walking clavicles or so huge that their only scenes involve them breaking furniture.") And in "Soup Snakes," Kaling spills some secrets on her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and close friend, B.J. Novak ("I will freely admit: my relationship with B.J. Novak is weird as hell.")
Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who's ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who've never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.
Generally I do not prefer audiobooks over the real deal. Mindy Kaling however calls for an exception. Like David Sedaris, listening to this in public is not advisable. Her writing is smart, candid and guffaw inducing. ‘Why Not Me ‘ deals with her journey from The Office to The Mindy Project and everything that happened in between. This includes quite a range of diverse topics from hair routines(all extensions) to shooting sex scenes (great fun). Talks about B J Novak, meeting the Obama’s and body image issues fit in there somewhere. My favourite section was undoubtedly the make believe alternate universe with Mindy Kaling’s Latin teaching alter ego. In spite of not being fond of romantic comedies (never saw those Meg Ryan movies) her epistolary narrative had me making emoji eyes. Mindy Kaling has the creative chops to rival any chick lit writer out there.
Beneath all the narcissistic and self depreciating commentary, the book has a heart. When the he laugh out loud moments gets spread out too far between the pages the book surprises you with some of Mindy’s very astute observations. This one was my probably my favourite:
“People get scared when you try to do something, especially when it looks like you’re succeeding. People do not get scared when you’re failing. It calms them. But when you’re winning, it makes them feel like they’re losing or, worse yet, that maybe they should’ve tried to do something too, but now it’s too late. And since they didn’t, they want to stop you. You can’t let them.”
I loved reading her essay addressed to the girl in the panel. Mindy Kaling like her on screen persona (I am now more confused between the two) has her weak moments. She candidly observes “But it’s not that I think I’m so great. I just don’t hate myself. I do idiotic things all the time and I say crazy stuff I regret, but I don’t let everything traumatise me. And the scary thing I have noticed is that some people really feel uncomfortable around women who don’t hate themselves. So that’s why you need to be a little bit brave.” Her commentary reminds me of the thousand things I have found problematic about both body shaming and populist “love yourself” campaigns. While I cringe at every fair and lovely ad, I find Dove’s every hair is beautiful campaign and Woman’s day free spa offers equally repulsive. There are all these posts about “loving yourself” as a subversive act, but when market forces and fucking advertisements are again directing how to love yourself then the breed of elitist self obsessed snobs produced are almost as bad as body shamers.
To conclude, Mindy Kaling die hard fan or not I would still recommend this funny and short audiobook to everybody.