Thursday, 10 May 2012

Devouring Books: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

I'm about to do that thing again that I really don't like doing, so look away now, me.

*Ahem* I liked this book a lot BUT I read it really really soon after Bossypants by Tina Fey (review forthcoming- I'm in the closing chapters of the audiobook and I want to review both together) and... it's not as good as Bossypants. Again this is a relatively empty thing to say about a book that's by a different author with different experiences and all, but I did read them really close together and so I was kind of comparing them by default. Having said that, I enjoyed them both plenty, but I think it's worth mentioning that I think Bossypants is better. And also that I would have left more time between them if I'd been smarter, and I think that would have made me enjoy Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me more.

I'm back- that person who thinks it's ok to compare books with other books didn't say anything too mean right? ANYWAY- I basically knew nothing about Mindy Kaling before getting this book because I haven't seen the US Office or anything, but I had read this thing about Romantic Comedy stereotypes that was really funny and is a chapter in this book. So, that, combined with constant endorsement by Hello Giggles, made me believe that this was a good book to read (but not good enough to spend money on it myself, obviously- I got someone to buy it for me for my birthday).

And good it is! It's a mixture of a memoir and kind of general musings, all in the form of short essays that are basically all really entertaining. I'm glad that it's not fully a memoir since Kaling is all of 32 years old, and also because memoirs can be boring if one has to create drama where there wasn't really any. Instead, by writing short essays, Kaling can pick out parts of her childhood and stuff that feel significant and which she can create comedy from. It works well! At no point was I like 'why is she telling me this...' and I was amused the whole way through.

But. We have to talk about the title essay. It's a good essay but it pissed me off so much that it made me kind of irritated with the title just because now I know the story behind it I'm like '... but that's stupid.' SO the essay basically goes that Kaling was in this friendship group of 4, and then decided that she liked hanging out with this other girl who was SO much more her kind of person, none of which was a problem because, you know, you make new friends and stuff. So anyway, one day she goes to the mall with this new friend on the day she normally hung out with her other friends, and described seeing them in the same place as they always were on a Friday and felt upset that they were hanging out without her.

My reaction to this? EYE ROLL OF THE CENTURY! Because Kaling decided to hang out with this other friend at the same time she normally hung out with the others and then expected them to just, I don't know, go home to their separate homes and like weep because she wasn't with them? So whereas I thought the title of the book was clever and like a really valid concern, the actual story behind it is annoying and just shows someone having unrealistic expectations of other people (not to mention an inflated sense of self) rather than actually having been left out of something. I mean, I forgive Kaling for this because she was a teenager, and let's face it, teenagers have an inflated sense of self, and to her credit she did continue hanging out with her new friend rather than running off to join her old friends, BUT this story still really bugs me and makes me really dislike the title!

But- this is basically the only essay that pissed me off! Which is a good thing, obviously. Other than that, I giggled my way through the rest of the book, learned what an Irish goodbye is, nodded at her thoughts on one night stands (that what if you invite a guy back to your house and find out then that he's a murderer? Well what if?!) and basically enjoyed many of her other observations about all kinds of things. I'm also considering watching the US Office now which, considering how much I dislike Ricky Gervais (I realise he didn't write the US version. But he gets money from that shit. Although if I watch it online he gets NOTHING. Hmmm...) is a BIG DEAL. So- go, read it, and tell me if you agree with my annoyance at that one little thing...

Alternatively, if you've only got time to read one book of hilarious essays this year, make it Tina Fey's. Sorry! But really, this is something Kaling even kind of addresses herself! Observe:
"This sounds okay, but not as good as Tina Fey's book? Why isn't this more like Tina Fey's book?I know, man. Tina's awesome... Unfortunately I can't be Tina because it's very difficult to lure her into a Freaky Friday- type situation where we could switch bodies, even though in the movies they make it look so easy. Believe me, I've tried."
See! Funny AND willing to admit that Tina Fey is awesome. Definitely worth reading.

16 comments:

  1. The title is a totally legitimate question! That's what our greatest philosophers should be worrying about day and night, but the story of the essay IS stupid.
    Nonetheless I think I'll make my parents feel guilty for neglecting my educational needs and so force them to get me both this AND Tina Fey's book. Should I ever bring a murderer home with me they will be thankful I was prepared.

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    1. Ah, nice plan! Although Kaling doesn't actually tell you what to do if you do bring a murderer home, just advises that you avoid all situations like that... hehe

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  2. Now I'm annoyed at the title. I want to read this one and it's been awhile since I read Bossypants so I should be good. Although I'm sure even if you hadn't said anything I'd be comparing this book to Fey's anyway.

    You should watch the US Office but only up to when Carrel leaves. After that it has its moments but is mostly meh. And Kaling's character is great after a few episodes. In the beginning they don't really know what to do with her. Which is silly since she's one of the writers but still.

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    1. It's like the compariest comparey book to Tina Fey's ever (in a good way!) But I just don't like doing it because it's not fair to the poor books!

      Who takes over from Carrel? And also isn't he back? Because on English telly, they're like 'all new The Office' and Steve Carrel is in it, but we could, of course, be waaaaay behind (This is likely. Just sayin.)

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    2. James Spader sort of takes over? But not really. It's complicated. But no, Carrel is not back. Le sigh. I think what they mean to say is "all new (to you) The Office!"

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    3. They must do... MAN we must be behind you guys! I shouldn't be surprised though- like, regular tv is always TWO series behind with True Blood. TWO SERIES. They might as well not even bother!

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  3. I've had this for a while. And I totes agree with Alley that now I'm annoyed with the title. Damnit. But I shall read it.

    US Office season 2 is BRILLIANT. So well-done. Then it slowly...kinda...fell off. but I have seasons 1-3 on DVD, because Golden Years, man. (well, s1 sucked, but it's only six episodes)

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    1. Dude, I know. I'm so irritated with that story I can hardly cope. But I still liked it, even if I now wish the title of the book was something else.

      This is good to know! I just have to watch Breaking Bad and 30 Rock and probably The Wire and Six Feet Under, but right after *those* I'll watch The Office... lol. Also, fun story, apparently people come up to Kaling all the time and say 'I love season 2 of The Office but season 1 suuuucked' as, you know, a compliment. She doesn't like this. SO if you see her before you read the book, don't tell her this, ok? :)

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    2. Well, if she doesn't want to hear it, maybe she should've written a better first season. EVER THOUGHT OF THAT, KALING?

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  4. I know everybody has said this, but the US Office really is brilliant. I don't like Ricky Gervais either and I can't stand the British Office, but I still love this version. All seasons are worth watching - the earlier ones are better but even the newer ones are good :)

    I really want to read this. And Tina Fey's very existence irritates me so there's no chance I'd prefer her book!

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    1. But but but Tina Fey!

      TINA FEY!

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  5. I've never seen Ricky Gervais's version, but the US The Office is awesome. Still one of my favorite shows.

    I remember kind of being like "WTH?" with the title story, but I guess I kind of get it. In school you're all like "we're super best friends and it'll never change!" and then she found out her friends went out without inviting her, and she was feeling kind of guilty about doing the same... At least she had already made that other friend. I would have felt her pain more if she was like friendless except for that group.

    ANYHOO, I think I like Mindy & Tina's books equally, but for different reasons. I'm trying to refrain from reading more comedic actress memoirs/essays now, even though Jane Lynch's has been calling to me...

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    1. I'm still like '... that's really stupid' with the title story, just because it's like there was a standing invitation to their Friday thing, and *she's* the one who chose not to go- I mean, I'm sure her old friends felt waaaay more bummed that she didn't want to hang out with them (AT THEIR USUAL PLACE AND TIME!) than she did because they were 'hanging out without her'.

      Obviously I've forgiven her because she's funny :)

      Also, I forgot Jane Lynch has a memoir thing! Interesting...

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  6. I'll chime in with the others to say that US Office is good stuff.

    I haven't read either of these books though I am interested in getting around to them at some point. I do identify with reading two similar books close to each other and thus a decent book gets overshadowed by the other, thanks to the proximity. For me that was The Kite Runner and Atonement. I read Atonement first, and then Kite Runner and they both had similar themes, but Atonement was far superior, in my opinion.

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    1. I'm actually watching it right now, if you can believe it! But thanks for the US Office support :).

      I find that so interesting with The Kite Runner and Atonement, cause I've read them both and I know what you mean, but I read them quite far away from each other, so I didn't even think to compare them!

      Oh yeah, and this and Bossypants are both excellent, so, yeah, get on that! :)

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  7. Kaling's book is remarkably enjoyable, and spotlights the writer in a new way.In the introduction, she says she'd like to be friends with Beyonce. Well, I'd like to be friends with her.

    Marlene Detierro (Cowboy boots for men)

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