Mindy Kaling, Why Not Me? Book Review and Other Insights

Yesterday’s post on pumpkin waffles seemed to be of interest, which made me quite happy! I’m hoping to get more experimental in the kitchen this fall and winter because really, when is there a better time to cook?!

Today’s post focuses on something I haven’t done in awhile- book review!

I was so happy and excited that Mindy Kaling’s new book Why Not Me? dropped on Tuesday. As you know, I ran to Target to pick up my copy and couldn’t wait to get started. In actuality, I did wait rather than start reading while driving. Not that you were concerned about that…probably.

I read Mindy’s first book in an afternoon, laughing my ass off and feeling as though we would make great friends. Her writing style flows like a conversation. She shares insights, advice, and stories in a concise manner, without growing too wordy or existential. Her follow-up was not a let-down.

I adored this book.

There were a ton of very funny moments that caused me to laugh out loud, but I was surprised at how many times I felt a swell in the heart or a kick in the gut, please excuse such cliches. I think it must be very difficult for celebrities to express any kind of unhappiness because of the assumption that wealth and fame are everything. I think it certainly helps a certain quality of life, but it’s rare that when celebrities complain, we feel bad for them. Mindy touches upon this subject in her book and shows her humanness in a way that makes you understand and empathize.

My biggest draw to Mindy and her show The Mindy Project has always been how relatable she seems as a young woman. She isn’t the typical female stereotype represented by our media and she writes how she both appreciates and begrudges this notion at the same time. *By the way, if you aren’t watching The Mindy Project, you are missing out. That cast is a gem and the writing is smart, witty, and terrific.

Here’s my thinking on this if you will allow it. As someone who has been overweight, has lost a lot of weight, and is still not thin by any means, I appreciate how it feels to be judged based on my body. At the gym, I know I am the strongest, hardest working person- mostly because that’s what motivates me- but I don’t necessarily look like it. I love my body and the things it can do and I try my damndest to take care of it. I wish I could buy more into the “love my body” craze because I think there is a real problem with how women, and men to some extent, are judged based off of their bodies. That whole fat-shaming video was horrendous for a multitude of reasons, particularly the stereotyping behind what makes someone overweight. Bad habits and a lack of knowledge on nutrition will always play a part, but so does human emotion, genetics, and a host of other factors. But I will also say, I think there should be more focus on promoting awareness and healthy habits, whether in regard to being overweight or underweight. This is more personal and deeper than a number on a scale, BMI, or what others think you should look like. You feel and look your best when you work hard for it, which is true of everything we do in life. This is another topic Mindy emphasizes in her book.

My point, is that it’s a shame that we idolize and laugh with people who look like Jennifer Lawrence when they say they love food, especially McDonalds or any other kind of fast food and suggest that people like Mindy Kaling are brave for being on TV or eating what she chooses. Why is it so funny or out-of-this world insane that women like to eat? Hi, universal thing. Like Mindy says in her book, rarely are men asked or judged by what they eat. Eating shouldn’t be something we judge people based on. Yes, I blog about my meals and I like to read over what other people eat because I love food, not because I think so-and-so is fat or gross or wrong.

With her newest book, Mindy is attempting to offer her fans and naysayers more than a surface glance as to who she is. She is an awesome representation of a woman other than who we usually see, old.white.man., but she’s also just awesome.

I can now appreciate just how hard she works and how that has paid off for her. But another point she wants to make, which says so in the title, Why Not Me? To us, maybe it’s surprising that a woman of color could be so successful because again, there’s a lack of representation (for which my sister Lauren expresses far more succinctly than me, so maybe I’ll have her write a guest post about it one day). Mindy doesn’t talk about how she “rose up from the ashes” to “defy all odds.” She got lucky in the sense that she made strong connections, but she also worked her ass off to get to a place where her connections could get her anywhere. Of course she would be successful with this, no matter her gender, ethnicity, weight, etc., etc., etc. She put in effort and she succeeded.

I’ll be the first one to admit that I always found the idea of writing and acting on a television show to be glamorous above anything else. This is my biggest dream. I understood that it’s hard work, but through reading Mindy’s book, I realized just how hard and long you have to work. Glamour makes its occasional appearance, but I think most of the time, it’s just as much of a grind than any other job.

I’m just now realizing and truly appreciating the importance of hard work. It doesn’t just mean studying and following rules. To get anywhere with anything, you have to understand your objectives, put in effort, and be present in that effort. I left a job I didn’t like because it was sucking the life out of me. I did not care about the work that I was doing and I felt my passion and my drive slip away. I know that even when I am doing work that I truly care about, sometimes it will be hard and uncomfortable, but that means we have to go even harder. I see this every day with my workouts.

What I want will not be easy or guaranteed, but I won’t get there by talking about it. I have to actually do it, try it, work for it. Maybe after I get to that point, and I know the hard work doesn’t stop, I can look back and write on it like Mindy, Amy, or Tina.

I know I can be successful in something I put devotion and effort into because I did that four years ago with my 100 lb weight loss.

Hard work, combined with true dedication and defying the barometers of just going through the motions is what allowed Mindy Kaling to name her book Why Not Me?, which is a response to all the critics and curious fans who ask how she, someone different than the usual and the obvious, reached a point of success. 

This book made me think, which I wasn’t expecting. It made my fingers twitch, my feet tap, and my mind whiz. It made me want to do, anything and everything, I can to fulfill my life. That is a good assessment of not only a quality book, but a quality and influential person.

Yes, if you are a young woman, you should especially read this book, but so should anyone who has ever existed and thought, “Wow, this life is kinda hard, dontcha think?!”

You will learn, as I am learning, that people don’t feel bad for you or want to take care of you (other than a select, loving few). Being hesitant or shy gets you nothing because people are not going to brush past what you offer on the surface to see a fabulous, witty, hard-working lady underneath. They will not have the time. No one will give you free, undeserved guidance. You will not wake up one day with the perfect job, excellent professional-personal life balance, money, and family. You might not get all or any of those regardless of how much work you put into it. You will get what you seek if you care enough to work for it.

Mindy does not pretend to be anyone else, despite flaws, mistakes, or general humanness, but she does show a willingness to reflect and to delve deeper into hard-hitting questions with answers other than what we think we want or need to hear.

Be the type of person who when someone poses a question such as, “How did someone like you succeed?,” can answer, “Why not me?” and be totally in the right.