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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?: I am now emotionally attached to Mindy Kaling's book for now and evermore

Thanksgiving is over, where my cousins and I categorically aged ourselves by having an earnest discussion about how superior Clueless is to Mean Girls, and scorning the youth of today and their choices.


I spent my time before sleep on Thanksgiving Day curled up in my married cousin's former room, reading Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?. I ended up reading past 1 AM, always thinking 'one more chapter,' and finally identifying that I was having such a great time with the book because it felt like I was chatting with a friend. I UNDERSTAND that that is the worst and immensely cliché, so it should mean more that I felt compelled to say it anyway. I love this book.

As a huge fan of the comic essay collection (that genre! so hot right now! lucky us), I've read...a lot of them. I wasn't that into Bossypants. I preferred Samantha Bee's I Know I Am, But What Are You and Sara Benincasa's Agorafabulous. It's hard when relating tales from your life to keep them from just darting all over the place and end up seeming like an incohesive mess. Or at least it seems that way since so many essay collections end up being exactly that.

I pre-ordered Mindy Kaling's book when it was announced (in 2011) and it has literally been sitting at the foot of my bed ever since. With a signed bookplate for us go-getters who were going to read it right away! Since, post-reading this, she and I are clearly now best friends, I apologize most deeply for letting it languish for so long next to the hoodie I don't want to pick up and that stuffed bear I don't have fond feelings for. It deserved better than that.

Well, I apologize again

Regarding the actual book, it wisely follows a fairly chronological path through her life, the details of which I knew nothing going in. I didn't even know she and her friend were responsible for the two-person show Matt & Ben (about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck). What's especially wonderful is you're reading about and being entertained by her life, and then suddenly, hey, a chapter about The Office! I forgot that's why I originally wanted to read this! It's like when you're really enjoying all the trailers before a movie and then the actual movie starts and you go Oh yeah, I forgot I came here to see this. Now I'm psyched again!

Mindy is probably one of the most relatable comic essayists I've read, an obvious example of why being her imagined version of how she and Kristen Wiig would become friends while they shared an office at SNL for two weeks and listened to Joni Mitchell's Blue:

KRISTEN: God, I love this album.

ME: Me too. Doesn't it make you wish we'd been alive during Woodstock?

KRISTEN: Yes! I always think that when I listen to this!

ME: That's hilarious. Hey, do you want to go get some lunch and then hit Crabtree & Evelyn?

KRISTEN (as though I'm an idiot): Uhhh yeah. I mean if we can even fit out the door of this tiny office.

ME: You're so bad.

(We laugh and laugh)

KRISTEN: Seriously, I wish we could've gone to Woodstock together.
 She takes the reader through her nerdy grade school years, what it's like when you're in a girl clique, what proper karaoke etiquette is, how much she loves Irish exits at parties, and which photos on her BlackBerry are the most narcissistic. Among other things. This is why you feel like you're chatting with a friend the whole time. It's refreshingly casual without feeling purposely so, and it also manages to be well-structured. 

One of my favorite things about it is it doesn't fall into the faux-cutesy trap of writing about all the things the author did to put off writing the following chapter. EVERYONE DOES THIS NOW AND I HATE IT. But Mindy Kaling is a professional damn writer and she doesn't need to pull that shit. Read her adorable book. And maybe watch The Mindy Project; I marathoned a season a couple of months ago and do not regret it.


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