Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Written By: Mindy Kaling

222 pages


Publisher: Crown Archetype

First Published: 2011

When I tell you I read Mindy Kaling’s book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, in just two days, your first reaction may be, “Of course you did—you don’t have a job, a boyfriend, or a life.” Well, okay, yeah you’re right about the not having a job thing, and even though I would argue that having a life is subjective—and compared to someone in, say, solitary confinement or whatever, I do have a life—you’re probably right there, too. I actually do have a boyfriend, thank you very much, but based on the amount of time I spend in pajama pants, I can see how you would assume the contrary. But, when I make this claim, I am actually not giving further evidence on why I am a sad individual whom you should pity and maybe buy a cat for (do not ever buy me a cat); rather I am expressing how much I liked the book, and that I think you (if you have a soul, an appreciation for cupcakes and/or Hello Kitty, and a healthy sense of humor) would like it too.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? begins as a memoir, detailing Kaling’s childhood, as well as her path to becoming a comedy writer and actor. It’s interesting stuff, especially for anyone aspiring to do what she does. Although I am already old and dead inside, I can imagine that teenagers with a penchant for comedy could really benefit from reading about how Kaling parlayed her interest into a career. As for me, I totally hate her: when she was my age, she was already writing for “The Office.” The memoir is, in some ways, the book’s strongest section since it is the most concrete and focused. Kaling is witty and engaging no matter what—and so breezily conversational that she feels like not just a friend but a best friend—but she starts to lose her through line when she begins discussing topics as varied as “Irish exits” (leaving a party without saying goodbye to anyone) and why men put their shoes on so slowly.

The latter half of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? reads more like unperformed stand-up. While it is no less entertaining, it also feels more haphazard, as though Kaling ran out of things to say about herself and so began piecing together the funny things she likes to think about. One of the greatest chapters in this section is titled, “Revenge Fantasies While Jogging,” in which Kaling imagines elaborate revenge scenarios in order to motivate herself to keep working out. She envisions herself tracking down the serial killer who murdered her star point guard husband, or the terrorists who focus on interracial marriage and kidnapped and murdered her husband on their honeymoon. If you’re not totally on board with that description, you may not appreciate this book. But, trust me, it’s bizarrely hilarious. (You can listen to it here.)

By the end of the book, you will feel like you and Mindy Kaling, or M-Kal, as you will probably feel comfortable calling her, are old friends who can call one another up whenever and never have to worry about restraining orders. Just a kind reminder: you’re not. Still, I’d like to think that I do know Mindy Kaling a lot better after reading her book, and that if we did ever meet, our encounter would not end in bloodshed or tears. I hope you’ll feel the same. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is a great way to spend an afternoon or two, although it probably won’t last much longer than that once you get going. It’s hard to put down because doing so would be like hanging up prematurely on your best friend from college who you never see anymore. You’ll want to hear all about her life—who she’s dating, what embarrassing situation she got herself into this time—even if it takes you away from what you “should” be doing. Don’t fight it. You know your priorities. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is definitely worth the extra attention.

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