Why Not Me?

December 17, 2016
Why Not Me? Book Cover Why Not Me?
Mindy Kaling
Memoir
Crown Archetype
September 15th, 2015
Paperback
226
Blogging for Books

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 “Player” tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. (“I had been replaced by a younger model.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.

(via Goodreads)

 

I don’t know why I seem to adore the celebrity memoir so much. I am particularly drawn when these are written by comediennes, or well, any female celebrity, who wants to empower their audience. why-not-me-quoteFor some reason, I am surprised that every time I read one of these books, I find myself screaming, “YES, <insert famous female name here>! You are my SPIRIT ANIMAL!” And basically, I just want to know that there are kick ass women in the world who are making a difference and I can look up to. That seems to be the draw.
And it’s working. I want Mindy Kaling to be my spirit animal.

It seems par for the course now that I go into these books not really knowing the body of work of the author. Continuing the trend, I don’t know much about Mindy Kaling. But in this case, I can honestly say I have never seen a single thing Mindy has ever done. Heck, I’ve never even heard her voice (I don’t think). But that doesn’t mean I don’t know her body of work and respect the crap out of everything she has done. I feel like everywhere I turn my friends are quoting her and commenting on the positive waves she is making in the world.

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.

Why Not Me? is an eclectic collection of essays. It felt a bit like Mindy and I went out for coffee for some career advice, why-not-me-dancebut coffee turned into appetizers, which turned into happy hour, which turned into full-on-dinner and a shared cab ride home. These essays collect Mindy’s thoughts on what it means to be a woman in comedy and television. More specifically, what did and did not contribute to her success and how it helped her grow as a person. I learned quite a bit.

As I expect is the case with almost everyone who reads this novel, my favorite essay is the title essay. Why not me? Explores Mindy’s fight to define her confidence– after all, everyone seems to be asking her about where it comes from. She shows her frustration with people who act like she is doing something radical by being on television. This isn’t about her race, her family background, her history, her sex– Mindy is where she is because she works hard. And, honestly, I don’t think enough people are encouraged to work hard any longer. It was incredibly refreshing to hear this addressed. This and (my favorite quote):

But it’s not that I think I’m so great. I just don’t hate myself. And the scary thing I have noticed is that some people really feel uncomfortable around women who don’t hate themselves.

Preach at me, Mindy. Preach.

I also love how honest and open Mindy is about her opinions and her life. She doesn’t care that much for pop culturewhy-not-me-cake (I’m not alone!), she adores cake, and she thinks filming sex scenes are awesome. She has a love-hate relationship with both food and her body, and a love-hate relationship with relationships (sexual and otherwise). She really could be my spirit animal.

In retrospect, I know I would have gotten more out of this collection of essays should I have listened to the audiobook. I didn’t laugh aloud at 99% of the jokes. But, I don’t really know Mindy’s sense of humor. There were way more jokes in here than I expected (because I’m an idiot- she makes her living off of jokes)! why-not-me-inspirationalFor example, her essay outlining she speech she gave to a Harvard Law graduating class was uncomfortable to read– but that’s because I only heard my own pacing in my head, and we all know I shouldn’t make jokes. That said, I didn’t appreciate her message any less.

I will leave you with one last piece of advice, which is: If you’ve got it, flaunt it. And if you don’t got it? Flaunt it. ’Cause what are we even doing here if we’re not flaunting it?

I strongly recommend this book to any fans of Mindy Kaling, or to anyone who just wants to hear some awesome and hilarious tidbits about a real person. Because that’s all Mindy is– a genuine, caring, concerned human being who is trying to be the best she can be. I respect that. And we could all learn a thing or two from it.

For more information on Mindy Kaling check out her website.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

4 stars

14 Comments

  • LizScanlon December 17, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Great review… I’ve come across The Mindy Project on TV a few times but never watched it attentively, as my sense of hurmor is a bit different… however, I always admire an open, honest talking person and a go-getter! 🙂

    • Jackie B December 19, 2016 at 10:43 pm

      It was so refreshing to have someone call out hard work as a critical piece to success in life. It’s amazing to me how few people think you need hard work. It’s not like the perfect job/friend/partner/whatever is going to just fall into your lap! People are so silly.
      This book might be a bit hot and cold for you if you don’t like the humor, but I do encourage you to at least peek at the final essay at some point. It really hit some critical points home for me.

  • Books, Vertigo and Tea December 17, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    This sounds like one of the few memiors I need to add to my shelf. I am admittedly not a fan normally. Although You’re Never Weird on the Internet has found a home in my top 10 of all time. There is however, always an exception and this may very well be one. I admit, I have not watched Mindy’s show, but am familiar. Thank you for a great review spotlighting a title I might have otherwise overlooked!

    • Jackie B December 19, 2016 at 10:42 pm

      It’s a pretty easy read, since they are broken into essays. I think that I enjoyed Yes Please! more, but that’s just because I connect well with Amy Pohler’s humor more easily. All in all, this was a ton of fun and I hope you enjoy it when you get the chance! I know you’re drowning under books right now. I hope that you can see the sunlight soon!

  • Diana December 18, 2016 at 7:19 am

    I live Mindy’s show.The memoir sounds brilliant.Will definitely look out for this one.Great review.

    • Jackie B December 19, 2016 at 10:35 pm

      Thanks, Diana! I’m so glad that you enjoy her show! I started looking for some clips since reading this, and I think I might love it too. She has such a strange sense of humor based in her own circle of self-logic. I think that’s what makes it appealing. What do you enjoy about her show? I feel like I should start watching…

  • Books, Vertigo and Tea December 20, 2016 at 11:55 am

    The sunlight is breaking through haha <3 I have heard great things about Amy's book, so I may start there first.

    *FYI – my comments are not coming through on WP again 🙁

    • Jackie B December 20, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      Man. that’s the worst. Amanda (from Cover2Cover Mom) also said that she isn’t able to reply to my comments via WordPress. I wish I knew what was happening!! It seems super random, and I can’t figure it out. Well, I’ll reach out to my admin. Silly WordPress.org being a pain. Thanks for letting me know!

  • Amanda @Cover2CoverMom December 22, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    I am also drawn to female comedian memoirs and I’ve been wondering about Mindy Kaling’s books!

    “It seems par for the course now that I go into these books not really knowing the body of work of the author.”

    This is me too! I’m not a big TV or movie watcher. I DO want to read Lauren Graham’s book, but I am a huge Gilmore Girls fan, so she would be my first 🙂

    • Jackie B December 23, 2016 at 12:28 am

      I *want* yo be a Gilmore Girls fan, does that count? For some reason, I never really got into TV or movies. In fact, I find that I get bored easily watching “moving pictures”. Thankfully the friends I surround myself with are not that into pop-culture, so it helps. I did recently get Betty White’s memoir, and I *am* familiar with her work. So we’re both making progress on that front. 🙂

  • Grab the Lapels December 23, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    I love her as the voice of Taffeta Muttonfudge in Wreck it Ralph and as one of the PhD students in Five-Year Engagement and as the voice of Disgust in Inside Out.

    • Grab the Lapels December 23, 2016 at 7:43 pm

      Actually, all three of these characters are people we might traditionally call “bitchy.” They’re not necessarily strong women…..they’re more mean. Interesting.

      • Jackie B December 24, 2016 at 9:53 pm

        Well, Taffeta is a bully, in my opinion. I never saw Five-Year Engagement. And I always defined Disgust as someone who knows what she wants. She is opinionated and refuses to lower her standards. … Do people define that as bitchy? I’ve never considered that before. What really classifies someone as bitchy? What a fascinating argument…

        • Grab the Lapels December 24, 2016 at 10:23 pm

          I think she comes off as hating everyone’s ideas (thus “bitchy”) because it’s her job to be disgusted by things so Riley doesn’t get poisoned or become a social pariah. When she’s helpful, she totally confident and a woman who knows what she wants. For example, when she identifies the cool girls at school and tells everyone how to get Riley to be friends with them. But because that character’s for is small, we mostly see the catty attitude.

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