If the name Mindy Kaling rings a bell, you’re likely a fan of “The Office,” where she plays ditzy Kelly Kapoor. What I didn’t know until recently is that Kaling is also one of the show’s writers — in fact, she’s behind some of my favorite episodes, including “The Injury,” where Michael Scott burns his foot on a George Foreman grill. Last fall in The New Yorker I read an excerpt from her book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), and immediately put the book on my to-read list.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is primarily a collection of personal essays, some short, some long. Kaling shares memories of showing Monty Python to her uncomprehending high school pals, tells us about her years sharing a tiny apartment with her two BFFs in New York, and explains how she landed a junior writing job on the unpromising-looking reboot of a beloved British sitcom. I would like to send her essay on why it’s OK to be overlooked in high school to every teenage girl I know. She also tells us a lot about her love of shopping, an annoying incident at an LA cupcake bakery, and why she’s avoided one-night stands (she’s afraid of being murdered, like all of those people on Law & Order: SVU. I can relate).