Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

I listened to the audiobook of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. This audiobook was read by the author, which was, in this case, a good thing.

The author of this memoir is a staff writer and actress on the American version of The Office. I've seen maybe two episodes of the show, so pretty much any time she referenced things that happened on the show, or other actors from the show, I was in the dark. That was fine; there was a lot to enjoy in this audiobook even for people who, like me, are unfamiliar with The Office and Kaling's career in general. In the book, Kaling reminisces on her childhood, college days, and her rise from complete obscurity to her current position. As you'd expect from a sitcom writer, her observations are made with a great deal of humor. Interspersed with the personal history are essays and "listy-things" featuring Kaling's opinions on a wide variety of subjects. The content is generally lighthearted.

I was surprised how often I agreed with Kaling. Her views on marriage, for instance, struck a chord with me. And while Kaling is what I describe as "Hollywood fat" (meaning, possessing a body much thinner than that of the average American woman, but slightly larger than the typical Hollywood stick figure), her struggles with finding clothing that fits and flatters also resonated. On the other hand, when she talked about comedy, she lost me fairly quickly. I do have a sense of humor (I think...), but I don't always have the greatest appreciation for the kind of funny that's popular on mainstream TV.

There are a few drawbacks to listening to this, rather than reading it. For one thing, you miss out on any photos and illustrations. For another, I occasionally had a hard time figuring out when one essay ended and another began. Things that are immediately obvious in a book's formatting are less so when they're being read aloud. Was that line the title of a new essay, or another bullet point in the current one? I also felt that the reading pace was rushed at the beginning, but I quickly got used to it. I'd recommend this book in either format, with the caveat that audiobook listeners may want to briefly obtain a paper copy later to check on what they might have missed.

(Reviewed from an audiobook borrowed through my library system.)

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