Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (and GIVEAWAY!)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy KalingGiveaway is now closed.

Title: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Author: Mindy Kaling

Publisher: Ebury Press

Published: November 2011

Genre: Non-Fiction Autobiography

Source: Penpal swap

My Rating: 3/5

Mindy Kaling is most well known for her work on The Office (US) as a writer, actor and producer. She is also the creator of The Mindy Project. In her autobiography she shares anecdote, advice for teen girls, and how she went from starving artist to success.

I haven’t seen any of Kaling’s work, but someone in a swap sent me her autobiography Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Problems) and who can resist such a pretty cover.

The main thing that stood out for me was the inclusion of lists. There are lists of questions and answers, lists of alternate names for things, lists that show Kaling’s break-down of possible tropes, etc. To be honest, this is was the main thing I loved about this book. It made it into a quick read, while showing more of Kaling’s personality than a straight-up autobiography would have, not to mention Kaling’s comedy which is clearly strongest in this format.

There were many moments during this book that made me smile to myself, however it wasn’t nearly as funny as I was expecting from a comedy writer and actor. Perhaps it’s just my lack of that kind of humour, but in my opinion a lot of felt like it was trying too hard, and the rest was bordering on laugh out loud but somehow missed the punch line each time.

However, as a writer, I am always interested in other writers’ work habits and how they get ideas to paper so to speak. While the majority of the book is about being a performer and getting through the day to day parts of life (friendship, work, fashion, being ‘chubby’ [her word, not mine, and quite frankly offending that she thinks she’s fat], there is a section on writing which I really enjoyed, though I wouldn’t say that in itself would be enough of a reason to pick this book up.

There are a few photos throughout the book, which she then describes or explains. The only problem being that they are in black and white and very small, when Kaling is writing as though we can see both the colours and the details of what she’s wearing, etc.  For me this simply made the book seem cheap (unlike the gorgeous cover), and it was irritating that I could barely make anything out as that seemed to defeat the point of including the photos in the first place.

Unless you are a huge fan of Mindy Kaling, I have to admit this wouldn’t be anywhere near the top of my recommendations list. That said, if you’re looking for something easy and girly to ease you into non-fiction this would make a great book for you.

I realise this review isn’t glowing, however I am giving away my copy of the book, as I feel it’s only right to pass it on. Entering is as simple as pressing a button on rafflecopter, though I’d love it if you followed me on Twitter or Goodreads or commented on this post as well. This giveaway is international (I’m willing to send it anywhere my post office will let me), and ends midnight Sunday 11th September (GMT).

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Review: The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry

the fry chronicles by stephen fryTitle: The Fry Chronicles

Author: Stephen Fry

Publisher: Michael Joseph

Published: 2010

Genre: Autobiography

Source: Library

My Rating: 3/5

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In The Fry Chronicles, Stephen Fry talks about part of his childhood, but mostly about his University years and those that followed when he was first starting as an actor and writer.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Fry Chronicles, as I have never been a huge fan of Stephen Fry, but he has the kind of personality I felt would make a good autobiography. As it turns out The Fry Chronicles comprise only a small part of his autobiography, the first memoir he published is Moab Is My Washpot. Honestly, after reading The Fry Chronicles I am not sure whether I like Stephen Fry less or more.

What I did like is his total and frank honesty when it came to things like the way his depression makes him see the world. For me, this was very relatable to, though his experience is nothing like mine (as every experience is different). Fry openly discusses his discontent, and the causes of such, as well as making a point that I have felt often myself – that we feel worse about ourselves for the very fact that we are feeling depressed when there is no real reason to be.

I also found it very interesting to read of how his career started. I am always interested in success stories, and the nuances of how they happen in such a random way as it did with Fry. I enjoyed reading about his escapades with Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson; I wished I was at University with them as the way he describes it is almost idealistic and I almost felt as though I could have been a part of it.

In general I felt the book was well written, though at times Fry seemed to go round and round the same point, which made it a little tedious. It isn’t completely in chronological order, but this didn’t affect the storytelling for the most part.  As I said at the beginning, I’m not sure if I like Stephen Fry better or worse after having read it, but I am certainly a little more interested in his life and career so will likely read more about him at some point.

Overall, this autobiography is interesting to read, at times funny, and quite enjoyable. I think anyone who enjoys the genre will find merit in reading The Fry Chronicles, though I’m not sure I would recommend it for people who aren’t keen on it, unless they are Stephen Fry fans.

Review: Moonwalk by Michael Jackson

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What’s It About?

‘Moonwalk’ is Michael Jackson’s only autobiography.  It details his performance career from childhood up until the book was written (1983-1988) in his own words.

My Thoughts:

It will probably surprise most people to learn that I have only just read this book, considering how big of a Michael Jackson fan I am.  But seeing how I was mostly obsessed with him at High School, when this book was very difficult to get hold of, it isn’t actually that strange.

The first thing to point out is that this autobiography was first published in 1988 and so the bulk of it is about his childhood and his first two albums he produced as a solo singer (‘Off the Wall’ and ‘Thriller’).  This obviously means it missed out about half his life which I have to admit I was disappointed by, but there’s not a lot you can do about that.

At least half the book is dedicated to the experiences of being part of ‘The Jackson 5’ and ‘The Jacksons’.  While I found it interesting to see what events Michael Jackson left out of his childhood, I didn’t find any stories which I didn’t already know.  Of course, this would probably be different for someone who has never been that big of a fan.  Personally I felt that the writing was dry and was very much a ‘this happened, then this happened’ kind of telling.  This was my main issue with the book, as I like autobiographies for the emotional connection that is usually created between reader and writer.  In a way, it kind of felt like listening to what a child might say, with the occasional words or phrases that they’ve heard from other people, rather than made up themselves, thrown in.  While I understand that perhaps this is actually Michael Jackson’s style, it did become a bit boring and monotonous.

The latter part of the book is all about music (and a little bit about dance).  I found it quite boring to read how the recording of each of the songs added to the feel (in his opinion) of the two albums ‘Off the Wall’ and ‘Thriller’.  While there were a few interesting titbits about how the ideas of songs came about, mostly it was literally a breaking-down of the beats of each song.  As I am not a musician I have to say that this was irritating, and in fact more so as I know each song and album produced inside out – reading the singer’s point of view hasn’t added anything to my experiences as a listener.

Obviously for any Michael Jackson diehard fan, this is a must read (though I assume that most, if not all of these fans, have already read it).  But for everyone else I would only suggest reading it if you are interested to know step-by-step how Michael Jackson started in the music business; from with his family to as an independent artist.  It would probably be a good read for musicians of ‘pop’, but if you are just after a biography of Michael Jackson’s life, I would recommend reading ‘Michael Jackson: The Magic and The Madness’ by Randy J. Taraborrelli, rather than ‘Moonwalk’.

Overall rating: 3/5

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