Why Not Me?
New York: Crown Archetype, 2015
Hardcover, 228 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 (previously 5 out of 5)
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 “Player” tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. (“I had been replaced by a younger model.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.
This was a reread for me, in preparation for my book club meeting at the end of this month. What I can tell you is this: I rated it 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads after I first read it. But upon reading it the second time, I think that I may have to adjust my rating. Let’s try to break down why this might be.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of Mindy Kaling. I watch The Mindy Project. I watch her on talk shows. And I’ve read both of her books now. And while I did find some of her essays interesting, relateable, and funny – I feel like I didn’t come away with a lot. Or perhaps in this genre of non-fiction, we’re only meant to read it once because most jokes are not quite as funny as they were the first time you heard it.
There is a part of the book that really struck a chord with me. In her essay “Some Thoughts of Weddings”, she writes
With my friends, the sad truth is that our best “best friend” days are behind us. […] We will never come home to each other again and we will never again have each other’s undivided attention. That version of our friendship is over forever. – Why Not Me?
And to me, this felt refreshing. Because of how true the sentiment is. Most books I’ve read claim that friendships last forever or that they don’t because of fights, misunderstandings, and the like. But the truth is that sometimes it’s just life and you reach a point in your life where it’s not all about you and your best friend. And though we once promised to be BFFs, forever might not actually be forever.
My final verdict? Mindy Kaling would be such an amazing (and crazy) friend to have. Read her books. Once. Don’t try to return to it because some books are not meant to be reread.
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? – Why Not Me?