Woman Crush Everyday: Mindy Kaling, author of "Why Not Me?"

I am not a particularly quick (or motivated) reader by any stretch of the imagination. In an ideal world, I would be the kind of person who "reads for fun" in all of my spare time. As it turns out, I'd much rather spend that free time watching BBC dramas and baking cookies. But I'm trying here, guys!

I would prefer to read a non-fiction book over a fiction book any day. I know that makes me seem like some type of nerd who values "facts" over creativity, but the truth is my favorite kind of book is autobiographical. Ideally, one written in a lighthearted and comedic fashion by someone famous.

As horribly unintellectual as that sounds I will defend myself by saying that I read a ton of scholarly literature for my degree so cut me some slack, alright?

Anyway, the unthinkable happened the other day: I finished an entire book over the course of a few hours. This has never happened before and I owe it all to the comedic genius that is Mindy Kaling's writing. Seriously- if I could write with half as much wit and pithiness as her I'd be pretty happy with my writing career.

Most widely known for her acting roles in The Office and The Mindy Project, Mindy Kaling is often overlooked for her talent as a writer, director, and producer. Her second novel, Why Not Me?, highlights the struggles and successes of her Hollywood career, delves deep into her personal and romantic life, all while maintaining her uniquely bubbly sense of humor. In short, it's exactly the type of book I needed for a seven hour long flight home.

So what makes Why Not Me? so addictive and engaging? To me, Kaling's incredibly genuine prose kept me coming back for more, even when I said I would read "just one more chapter." Kaling isn't afraid to admit her flaws: she's materialistic, loud, and sometimes just straight up inappropriate. One of my favorite passing anecdotes of hers introduces her owning up to her bad sportsmanship. She describes being kicked out a sports bar during a New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox baseball game:

"I yelled, 'Derek Jeter is baseball's Hitler!' This was in New York City. In a room full of Jewish sports fans. I don't even really like baseball that much. I have a problem" (p. 115).  

Admittedly, this anecdote doesn't make that much sense, or really appear to be that funny, unless you know anything about baseball's greatest rivalry or have as much passion for the Red Sox as any Bostonian does. I was literally cackling while I read this and I'm sure the lady sitting next to me thought I was delusional. Pedantic sports references aside, I find Kaling's honesty with her flaws to be completely refreshing. It's something most celebrities fail to master nowadays, since they're usually too caught up in appearing to be Hollywood's "cool girl"- a title which Mindy Kaling so admirably is not concerned with. 

Another stand-out chapter of Why Not Me? is titled "Soup Snakes" where Kaling attempts to explain her "weird as hell" relationship with her The Office co-star and dear friend BJ Novak. Every time Kaling wrote "If you've ever met BJ, you would know..." I threw my head back in laughter and thought "Oh, Mindy, I know exactly what you mean!" Since I have met BJ Novak all of two times- which amounted to about 45 seconds of conversation- I felt totally "in the know" about this mysteriously intelligent actor and writer.

Totally joking. But I couldn't resist the opportunity to repost a picture of me, my best friend, and the honorable BJ Novak, an alumni of my high school, into this post. So here ya go: 

I have met (and touched!) a second/third-tier character of The Office. You jelly? 

Anyway, the relationship between these two is certainly something that most people can identify with- that best friend who you can rely on for anything, who knows you more than anyone else, but that you've never dated. It's strange but it's real. And that's exactly what Mindy Kaling writes about best. 

However, Kaling succeeds most of all in writing about hard work, confidence, and success as a minority, as a woman, and as simply a person who wants to "make it" in life. She writes that we need to teach young people to work hard for what they want, and to not treat working hard- or even workaholics- in a negative light. Even more so, we need to stop seeing entitlement as a bad thing- entitlement should be earned, not given. 

What struck me the most was her insistence that we need to stop assuming that girls will inherently not have confidence from a young age. She argues that if we keep treating confidence as this "special" and unattainable thing for girls, then they very well may be able to achieve the level of confidence that we automatically assume boys will have (which sometimes they don't!). 

Image via: Recently Heard. 

Luckily, this fantastically poignant excerpt is available online, via Glamour Magazine  so you can get a sneak preview of the book before biting the bullet (in case you're not already convinced).    

So in an effort to keep this post fairly short, and not give away too much about the book itself, I would just like to highly recommend Why Not Me? to anyone who's remotely interested in Hollywood or Mindy Kaling herself, or if you're just looking for an extra dose of inspiration. I promise, you won't be disappointed!    

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