Aug 16, 2018

[Books] Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Audible Review

So Tobie introduced me to the genius that is The Office, particularly the US adaptation of the British series. Watching the show together was one of the highlights of our first few years together and I'll always treasure the experience. A part of watching The Office is discovering the quirky comedic genius of Mindy Kaling, who played Kelly Kapoor.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is her first effort at writing something other than a story of a television show episode in the form of a memoir. But the book is distinctly written in her voice and style that you also rather realize that maybe a lot of her work thus far has involved a lot of herself to one degree or another.

And as I strongly feel that autobiography audio books are best read by the authors themselves, I had an extra layer of enjoyment here.

Synopsis: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) is a memoir written by Mindy Kaling. This review is for the Audible audiobook release of the title.

Like many memoirs, the book is essentially a series of essays that touch on different parts of Mindy Kaling's life ranging from her childhood to her efforts to force a career in Hollywood. But the whole thing feels a lot like an open conversation with Mindy and so the book can feel a little stream of consciousness in terms of structure.

But if you've see her television work, especially on The Mindy Project, the all the more the tone of the book and its seeming tendency to wander will make a lot more sense. But she does move steadily forward in her life including her early stage work and eventually her comedy writing jobs leading up to The Office. And this book came out during the run of that show.

What I Liked: The book is still quite funny despite it being a memoir, but that's sort of  to be expected given Mindy Kaling. She has a flair for witty, punchy writing that can be a tad self-deprecating at one moment and then fierce and confident the next and all makes sense. Especially when you listen to the audiobook, the whole experience is unmistakably her.

And this book definitely covers her Hollywood life including her time on The Office, which may seem like a weird thing to celebrate. But you have to understand that I have gone through so many biographies and memoirs and a lot of times they end just as the story gets to the point they get involved in whichever show or movie they have become most famous for. This book doesn't do that, and that's such a relief.

What Could Have Been Better: That said, the book does bounce around a lot and Kaling's tendency to vocalize her mental wanderings means that you'll get a lot of incidental bits and pieces. A lot of them are funny, don't get me wrong. But some are just totally random and really do feel off-topic. It's not consistent and you'll not care most of the time, but there will still be moments depending on your sensibilities.

And then the book feels oddly short and I wish that they had gathered more stories or something. It's a great piece and Mindy has a flair for conversational writing about her thoughts on the human experience (or whatever else we want to call it) and we don't get enough of it with this book.

TL;DR: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) is a fun, clever memoir that is a celebration of Mindy Kaling's career and quite frankly Mindy Kaling herself. It's a great collection of stories even if it doesn't quite feel like one contiguous book at times but on the whole it's still a lot of fun. And thus the book gets a great 5 lists (or pliests) that Mindy enumerates in the book out of a possible 5.

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