Sunday, June 30, 2013

Why I Love Mindy Kaling & Her Awesome Book

I mentioned Mindy Kaling’s book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) in my last post and because, as I said, she is my spirit animal, I felt that it was only right to devote a post solely to reviewing her book (and her general amazingness). 

Mindy is relatable, to say the least:

1.) She doesn’t dwell on being beautiful by Hollywood’s ridiculous standards. Mindy embraces her body with a proud “chubby for life” attitude and says that looking like Gisele B√ľndchen  is “right above ‘Learn to drive a vespa’ but several notches below ‘Film a chase scene for a movie’” on the list of things she wants to do in her lifetime. 

2.) Also, she eats (like a normal human being!) and talks about her love for food openly, so that’s awesome.

3.) She’s a hard worker. Mindy didn’t start at the top and wasn’t handed fame √† la Kardashian style. She discusses personal failures, lessons learned along the road to success, and times that her own pride got in her way. She definitely wouldn’t have gotten to where she is today without persevering through hard times, which is totally admirable.

4.) She loves rom-coms. When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle are two romantic comedies that Mindy cites as having watched since a young age and admits to loving such movies so much that she can suspend her “disbelief for the contrived situations that only happen in the world of romantic comedies,” a very important skill for girls everywhere to acquire. She also devotes an entire chapter of her book to “Types of Women in Romantic Comedies Who Are Not Real,” which is hilarious without undermining the sheer goldenness of this film genre...bravo!

5.) She, too, wants people to decide on a definitive definition for “hooking up”. Okay, basically since I first learned what human interaction was, I’ve wondered how to properly define the term, “hooking up”. I always remember adults saying, “Oh yes, let’s hook up for coffee!” and things like that when I was younger. So, until middle school, it was always innocent. And then middle school made it kissing, and high school added other pursuits, and then college turned it into going all the way. My friends at school and I instituted a pretty solid definition, just so we’re all on the same page: hooking up is kissing & “other pursuits”, but when I come home and catch up with my friends from high school, some of them define it as going all the way. Regardless, I have my definition and I’m sticking with it. Mindy’s may be different, but I totally agree that “if Europe could figure out a way to do the euro, I feel confident that we can [define hooking up].” 

6.) ...AND she doesn’t understand the culture of one night stands! I’m a commitment person, a relationship, “let’s get to know each other first” kinda person. That being said, I pass no judgement to people who enjoy one night stands and such. Basically, I 100% agree with her sentiment (surprise, surprise): 
Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing about it. Look, I don’t want to come off as prim or that I hate Samantha from Sex and the City or whatever. I would feel sad if I didn’t have my sexually-liberated friend there to tell me fun, frank tales of desires fulfilled. I just don’t get it at all.
So, this is what I’m like: If you come over to my house, I need to know your first and last name. I need to have your phone number and a person who we both know so you cant disappear forever in case you murder me. Ultimately, it comes down to this: How embarrassing would it be for me to be talking to a detective at a precinct after you tried to rape and murder me in my  home, and not be able to tell them your name or any information about you because we were having a one-night stand? I’ve seen Law & Order: SVU, I know how it works.” Well spoken, Mindy.
7.)I want a schedule-keeping, waking-up-early, wallet-carrying, non-Velcro-shoe-wearing man.” DUH. Her whole theory on men vs. boys is very enlightening.
8.) “Video games scare me because they all seem to simulate situations I'd hate to be in, like war or stealing cars” PREACH IT! I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one who got really bad anxiety from being virtually pursued by people with dangerous weapons and scary masks.
9.)A remarkable thing about me is that the time that elapses between a sad thought and a flood of tears is three or four seconds.” Once again, 100% me, and though I may have struggled to admit this in the past, I can fully accept this fact now that I know I  share this quality with Mindy.
10.) She was a good babysitter/nanny and actually enjoyed it! I love babysitting mostly because I love kids. As a side note, getting paid to blow bubbles, color with chalk, eat Lucky Charms, and watch Disney Channel without the horrible tax fairy stealing a portion of your, YES PLEASE! 
11.) She knows the value of a best friend and how to properly appreciate those who are important in her life--her “Best Friend Rights and Responsibilities” list (pages 80-84) is spot-on. Like, obviously we have to sleep in the same bed when we’re together,  I will be nice, but honest, about your fashion choices, and I’d without a doubt take on the responsibility of  your child should something terrible happen to you. They’re all the “givens” of being in a BFF relationship that you never realized you already knew, parts of an unspoken, but sacred, agreement on with your bestie. 
12.) Speaking of good friends, mine often have to tell me that basically, “sometimes you just have to put on lip gloss and pretend to be psyched.” I don’t mean to be the party pooper, but I’m usually the one to fall victim to either sleepiness, eating chocolatey delight Special K out of a mug, or watching an old Audrey Hepburn movie or some indie flick when the time comes around to get ready to go out. My friends are completely aware of this and do a really impressive job of helping me to look (at least semi) presentable and get in proper mindset for dancing the night away. Thank you, my lovely ladies, for keeping me from falling into a sad life as a desolate hermit. 
11.) She’s funny, which is completely obvious (unless you’re a rock), but needs to be acknowledged nonetheless. Throughout this book, Mind’s sense of humor (is it weird that I’ve never met her, yet I feel like we are totally on the level at which I can shorten her name/give her endearing nicknames? #sorrynotsorry) made me feel like someone was physically tickling me and I giggled, and even full-out guffawed, frequently while reading. 
I could probably find endless reasons as to why I love Mindy Kaling and her charming book. Being that I was lucky enough to read this book on the beach, the atmosphere and overall experience created was obviously enhanced even more (as if that was even possible).  

I guess if you’re looking for hearty, dramatic reading material, this may not be your thing. That being said, if you don’t love this book and this woman, I don’t love you. That might sound slightly harsh, but I really can’t imagine someone not finding at least one reason to laugh in this book--basically that’s something I would add to my Best Friend Rights and Responsibility contract; “Must love Mindy Kaling”. 

Creating the Ideal Summer Reading List

Do your research
During this time of year, lots of magazines and newspapers publish lists with their recommended summer reads, usually chalked full of books with highly anticipated releases, as well as classic summer throwbacks (Judy Blume Summer Sisters, anyone?). Check out some of these lists and in addition to blogs ( and
are some of my favorites!) and asking your friends for recommendations. Maybe even reach out to your parents or grandparents--my mom is an awesome book critic and gives the best suggestions! 
Don’t be afraid of YA 
A lot of time we tend to think that books classified as “young adult” are strictly for people under the age of sixteen and written with the intention of permanent residence in high school libraries. Sometimes, YA novels help us discover new things about ourselves or bring back memories from our own earlier days. Also, the genre is going through a huge growth spurt with authors like John Greene, Suzanne Collins, and Ann Brashares taking risks by dealing with tough stuff, therefore make their pieces more realistic to today’s society. It’s nice to have a mix of genres on your list to keep you from getting bored. 
Become BFFs with the library
Being the avid reader that I am, there’s something about walking into the bookstore, a place so warm and welcoming, a place tinged with the scent of fresh coffee and leather bound papyrus that makes me instantly happy, regardless of my mood previous to entering. That being said, I allowed the bookstore to make a pretty hefty dent in my bank account last summer...books are more expensive then we often realize! The library allows you to try out new authors and novels without financially committing--nothing is worse then that resentful feeling you get when you end up not liking a book you spent eighteen dollars on. 
Make a list
Goodreads is a book nerd’s dream come true. It’s a website that allows you to create lists of books you’d like to read, as well as classify books onto your own personal virtual shelves, such as “favorites” or “classics”. You can also search other user’s collections and connect with your friends--think of it as a social media site for book lovers! Another great feature is the app that lets you scan barcodes on books, which is awesome in bookstores and at the library.
Just start
If you're uncertain about whether or not you'll enjoy a book, just pick it up and start reading! There's no harm in getting a few pages in and deciding that it's not for you. I usually give a book about a chapter to hook me, and if I don't feel a spark after that (yes, a spark--reading is a love affair!), I put it down, feeling good about that fact that I gave it an honest chance. There are so many books and so little time, so find something you love!

Here’s a little preview of my summer reading list--check out for my complete list!

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell 
The story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under” C’ sounds like fictional gold to me.

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfield
Identical sisters with psychic abilities return to their hometown of St. Louis in the midst of earthquake season. As they grew up,Vi embraced her abilities while Kate tried her best to suppress them and lead a normal life. When the girls receive a premonition about a devastating earthquake that’s quickly approaching, they must reconcile their differences and learn to face the truth of their responsibility to others and themselves.

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
After a tragedy separates best friends Jules and Cricket during their summer in Nantucket, Cricket finds herself working as a maid instead of soaking up sun in her summer paradise and questioning her friendship with Jules in the first place...and then, of course, falling for someone completely off-limits. 

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
Beach weddings, backyard weddings, castle weddings, weddings for passion, weddings for comfort, and swearing off weddings for life, this novel follows four unique couples through the ups and downs of relationships over a time span of one hundred years. This story also traces the history of diamonds in America and how they have become a symbol for our desire for everlasting love.

September Girls by Bennett Madison
Sam and his brother are spending the summer with their father in an isolated beach town that is unlike any other place. Time slows down and beautiful blonde girls who are attracted to him for no identifiable reason fill the town. When he begins to fall for one of the girls, one who is different than the others, she pulls away and he is faced with uncovering the secrets of the town and the girls who live there. 

Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck
Hired as a maid for Hemingway’s second wife in Depression-era Key West, Mariella enters a world she’s never known. The admiration of a famous writer becomes leads to temptation and an invisible line that, once crossed, will put Mariella at risk of losing everything important to her. (I read Call Me Zelda by Robuck at the beginning of the summer and LOVED it--if you’re as intrigued by the lives of classic authors and their families as I am, also check out Z by Therese Anne Fowler!)

Everything is Perfect When You’re A Liar by Kelly Oxford
If you haven’t yet discovered this hilarious, one-of-a-kind twitter sensation (@kellyoxford), now is the time! I can’t wait to read her essays on growing up and life in general, which I have no doubt will be laugh out loud funny, witty, and to the point. As a side note, I may be a little behind with this one, but also be sure to check out Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns), which was perfect...Mindy Kaling is truly my spirit animal.