03 November 2011

Book 30 of 2011

Let it be known that I originally made a goal of reading 25 books in 2011, which I soon modified to 30 and then 35 as I found myself more and more motivated to get as many books under my belt as possible. With a little under two months left in the calendar year and five books left, I'm curious to see if I can measure up, especially considering that we're entering the hardcore grading period coming up with essays from the freshpeeps and CD projects and culminating papers from the seniors. It won't be a problem, though, if all of the books are like this one because I finished it in two and a half days.

30) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
It feels like I've been too effusive with my praise of the books I've been reading lately. Not everything can be four or five stars on the Goodreads scale, right? But then I remembered that I choose what I read and I'm not trying to read things that I don't like, so if I do like it, then that shouldn't come as a shock to me or anyone else. If a book sucks so much that it'll get a one or two star rating, I'll probably stop part way through or only finish it out of spite. (Spite for who doesn't really matter even though it's pretty obvious that it's for myself.) But that leads us to Mindy Kaling's book.

Best known for her role as Kelly Kapoor on NBC's The Office, Kaling's book is a great mixture of memoir and philosophical musings of a successful, early 30-something woman who makes no apologies for having a great relationship with her parents and memorizing her debit card number to make online shopping easier. And it's also hilarious. The publisher released an excerpt shortly after the release of Tina Fey's book, Bossypants, and it was clear that it was right in the same wheelhouse.

The chief complaint that I heard about Fey's book after I read and reviewed it was how impersonal it felt, and in hindsight, that's valid. Sure, she discusses her father, her husband and the anxiety of having a second kid, but Fey never goes into too much depth on any of those topics, keeping it light, breezy yet still really funny. Kaling's book, while roughly the same length, reveals more about herself, her thoughts and her background while embracing superficiality without forsaking her insightful sense of humor.

And superficiality sounds like a mean term applied here, but, trust me, it isn't meant that way. Too many famous people seem to stalk fame like a big game hunter and then eschew the notion of it once they attain it. Mindy (Can I call her Mindy? That's how personable she comes across in the book: I want to call her Min or Mindy or M-Dog) has a chapter called "The Exact Level of Fame I Want," and that honesty is as endearing as it is refreshing.

Her writing style really works well, here, too, since I finished this in pretty quick fashion because the pages feel like a breathless Kelly Kapoor monologue. She's talented in such a way that she can use the phrase "...or whatever" effectively every single time. That takes an intelligence I'm not used to reading in my everyday life considering how often I see similar phrases used in student writing.

Other things of note in her book: She loves romantic comedies but not what they've become. Her chapter on best friend rights demonstrates just how different groups of female friends are from male friends. The chapter on karaoke etiquette shows that M-Dog and I would get along famously in person. (And she would probably hate the term M-Dog, preferring DJ Mindy Min.) The entire section on romance and guys reminds me of my wife and leads me to think that the two of them would be pretty great friends, too.

Where Tina Fey's book makes the reader want to be friends with her, Mindy Kaling's book makes me think being friends with her is possible.

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