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Book Review: "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?"

Kiran Kazalbash |
November 20, 2011 | 10:53 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Kaling makes you feel like you are  just spending the afternoon with a girlfriend in her new book (Random House).
Kaling makes you feel like you are just spending the afternoon with a girlfriend in her new book (Random House).
You may know her as the overly talkative, celebrity-obsessed sales representative Kelly Kapoor on the hit comedy "The Office," but in her new book "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me and Other Concerns," Mindy Kaling reveals how she differs greatly from her on-screen character and how her love for comedy began.

The book flows like a long afternoon conversation with your best girlfriend, addressing random topics ranging from one-night stands and hooking up, to fad diets and why men should keep their chest hair. Kalings’ observations on life and dating are hilarious and unique. Her life experiences are different from your average person due to her being raised by immigrant parents who placed a large emphasis on education.

Kaling confesses she spent most of her days as a teenager studying, watching TV and hanging out with her family. Throughout high school she was never invited to a party with alcohol and didn’t even know there was no difference between pot and marijuana until she was sixteen.  Though she struggled with weight issues and was socially overlooked, Kaling recalls this period in her life as a happy and memorable time.

After attending Dartmouth College, Kaling moved to New York City in pursuit of a career in entertainment. After years of being employed as a nanny in Brooklyn Heights and working for a TV psychic, Kaling and her roommate/best friend Brenda decide to make their own fate by writing a play in which they are the stars.

The low-budget, two-woman production about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck becomes a huge success in the city and talent agents quickly take notice of Kaling and her comedy writing abilities. Kaling and her friend are flown out to Los Angeles to do a TV pilot based on their play. Kaling admits she was glad the show didn’t take off because while that TV show was in talks Kaling was offered another job; writing for a new NBC TV series based on a British comedy.

Kaling spends the longest chapter of the book dishing on all things people wonder about "The Office" from how she balances acting in the show and writing episodes alongside B.J. Novak (Ryan Howard) and Paul Lieberstein (Toby Flenderson), to what Steve Carell and Rainn Wilson are really like.  Kaling also talks about how concerned she is that people think she is exactly like the “boy-crazy narcissist” she plays on TV.

She makes a point to enumerate the things her character Kelly would do that she wouldn’t do including crying about a celebrity break up and faking a pregnancy for attention. Though she does admit that she, like Kelly, is addicted to fad diets and shopping.

The book is definitely a light read but the chapters and thought processes come off a bit chaotic at times, jumping from one topic to the next without any common thread. Aside from the disorganization, the book is witty, thoughtful and not to be missed by any fan of Kaling or "The Office." 

"Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me" is clever collection of thoughts, observations and experiences of a funny girl who does what she loves and finds things to laugh about along the way.

 

Reach Reporter Kiran Kazalbash here.

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