Book notes: Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling book summary review and key ideas.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Synopsis:

“In Why Not Me? Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or, most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.

In “How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet’s Confessions”, Kaling gives her tongue-in-cheek secrets for surefire on-camera beauty (“Your natural hair color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn’t the land of appropriate – this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman’s traditional hair color is honey blonde”). “Player” tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in LA (“I had been replaced by a younger model. And now they had matching bangs”). In “Unlikely Leading Lady”, she muses on America’s fixation with the weight of actresses (“Most women we see onscreen are either so thin that they’re walking clavicles or so huge that their only scenes involve them breaking furniture”). And in “Soup Snakes”, Kaling spills some secrets on her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and close friend B. J. Novak (“I will freely admit: my relationship with B. J. Novak is weird as hell”).

Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming of age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who’ve never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.” -Audible

Opening thoughts:

I got this book because I really enjoyed her first book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? This book also had a really high average rating as well as a large volume of reviews. Hopefully it’s good!

Key notes:

  • Her not caring so much about what she says allows her to care more about how she says it
    • She thinks it makes her writing more personal and enjoyable
  • Your tailor will transform all of your clothes to make them seem new again
    • Your tailor is the one person who will always make you look better after you see them
  • She learned from Kim Kardashian that haters are just more people paying attention to you
  • The best kind of laughter is laughter born of a shared memory
  • He learned from the sorority that to make a guy fall in love with you, you laugh at everything he says and touch your mouth a lot
  • Being known is really fun, extremely strange, and not very important
    • Being a little bit famous has pushed her to become a better person as to not disappoint all of the little girls and people who look up to her

Reader’s Note: Mindy is very open and vulnerable about her fears and insecurities. I think this is what really makes people like her. A big reason why is because she is an open book with people and admits she doesn’t have it all together despite being a little bit famous. Her honesty is what makes her real.

  • Self confidence is just entitlement, which means you deserve something
    • But you have to make sure you actually deserve it
    • Therefore, you can’t have confidence unless you do the hard work
  • Confidence is like respect, you have to earn it 
  • You need the tiniest bit of bravery
    • People get scared when you try and do something, especially when it looks like you’re succeeding
    • People don’t get scared when you’re failing because it calms them
  • When you’re winning, it makes them feel like they’re losing
    • Or worse yet, that maybe they should’ve tried to do something too but now it’s too late
    • And since they didn’t, they want to stop you

Main ideas / Themes:

Famous people are still regular people – Mindy really emphasizes how despite being a little bit famous, she’s still learning along the way. However, her fame does push her a bit to be a better person than she was before because of the visibility. However, the main theme I got from her is that famous people are still regular people with doubts, fears, and insecurities. Haters will come after you more and more, but you learn to deal with them. You also learn how to deal with success along the way.

Confidence, respect, and courage – Another strong theme Mindy discusses is confidence. She says that self-confidence is something you have to earn through hard work. Entitlement is fine as long as it’s deserved. This is similar to respect, but it’s for yourself. Moreover, it takes courage to go out there, grow, and reach for your dreams. Naturally, those around you will try and stop you from becoming something other than what they’re used to. But just like haters, you learn how to move forward despite it.

Closing thoughts:

This was definitely everything I expected. I wasn’t sure why some of the reviews said this was noticeably worse than her first book, but I hardly noticed. It felt just as authentic as the first, and it was a great follow up as well.

I really enjoyed how she went more in-depth into her college experience that led to who she is today. I also really enjoyed her themes of self-respect, confidence, and learning along the way.

One thing that really distinguishes Mindy is her honesty and vulnerability. She always says she’s only just a “little bit famous” but I love how she doesn’t use this as an a rationalization that everything is fine. In fact, she admits that she doesn’t have it all figured out and is still trying to better herself now that she serves as a role model to others.

Overall, if you liked her first book, there’s no reason you wouldn’t like this one. Her style is one that makes it hard to not like her as she’s very honest and open about her insecurities. Although she says this might be most relevant to women, or specifically young women/girls, I think the themes are still accessible to almost anyone.

One Takeaway / Putting into practice:

My one takeaway from this book that I want to put into practice is:

  • The best kind of laughter is laughter born of a shared memory

I know, kind of feels like left field. However, I’m just starting my live comedy journey (improv and standup) and I think this is a good idea to keep in mind. I want to make people laugh, that’s the craft I’m choosing to work on and master. So I think remembering that shared memories and experiences are something I should keep in mind when trying to create laughter.

Nutshell:

Mindy shares her insight on how it’s like to be “a little bit famous.”

Rating:

3.5/5

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