Sunday, November 11, 2012

Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Is it weird to have picked up a book by a comedien I've never heard of but the rest of the planet has?  Probably.  I'm not much of a tv watcher (really I watch so little of it as to practically qualify as never watching) so I was unaware of Mindy Kaling or The Office (which I admit I've never once seen) but the book has some great cover blurbs and reviews that made it sound incredibly appealing.  And I do, after all, keep a shelf of unread books that I've had recommended to me as truly laugh out loud funny for when I need something like that (happens most often in the dreary winter).  So I picked this collection of essays up anticipating a funny, easy read.  In fact, at one point in the book, Kaling says that the worst thing someone could say to her was that she wasn't funny.  Unfortunately I can one up that for her; not only was the book not funny, it was boring.  And a disappointment.

The book is a collection of essays and lists and complete randomness that could have worked if the material was actually funny but in the absence of humor just pointed out the shallowness of what was in fact included.  Organized roughly chronologically, this starts with Kaling's childhood, moves through her college years, and eventually into her adult working life and the amazing breaks she got when breaking into writing for show business.  There are a few bits that are timely and pertinent to the state of our world right now socially and politically and there are a few bits that are relatable for many women but for the most part it's full of rather pedestrian riffs on growing up, being chubby (as a size eight no less!), friends, relationships, and the luck of being a part of a very successful tv show.  The book has a lack of cohesiveness and fullness to it that would have made it more satisfying.  It is superficial and oddly self-indulgent while still being fairly tepid and tedious reading.  Her success as a writer for The Office should not give her a pass for uninspired and superficial writing here.  Does Kaling have the material for a truly funny memoir?  Perhaps.  But if so, this wasn't it.


  1. I've never seen the The Office, although I did see the Leverage parody of it (my sister had to point out that it was based on something). But I saw Mindy on The Daily Show for a few minutes, and I bet I like her humor more than you did.

  2. This sounds like something with a lot of potential; it's too bad it didn't come together.

  3. I was familiar with her work on The Office but I'd agree with you that it wasn't a great book. I listened to it on audio, which might have helped things a bit but I could see that it would be a major disappointment.

  4. What a bummer that this was a disappointment. When humor books are good they're great, but it seems like when they're not they really crash and burn. It's aggravating reading a book that you know is meant to make you laugh out loud but doesn't even make you crack a smile.

  5. I've never seen The Office but I have seen small snippets of her sitcom and like most things on tv I just didn't get it. Thanks for the honest review.


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