It's been four years since Mindy Kaling released her bestselling comic memoir, "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?" And in that time it's become apparent that most people would happily give Kaling top billing in a group text chain if any hanging out were to take place.
No longer "that girl from 'The Office,' " Kaling has amassed a following that has journeyed with her as she launched her own series, "The Mindy Project," which began streaming its new season last month on Hulu. Her new book, "Why Not Me?" (Crown Archetype, $25), is a collection of essays that picks up where her memoir left off.
With essays such as "A Starlet's Confessions," which tackles Hollywood's idea of beauty, and "How to Get Your Own Show (And Nearly Die of Anxiety)," addressing the troubled course of her sitcom, Kaling once again applies humor and pop-culture savvy to topics like body image, career and finding love. The 36-year-old spoke by phone about all things bookish.
What kind of reader are you?
The way I like to read is the way I like to watch TV, which is I can't sort of put down a book if I really like it. It just consumes my whole day. I'll sometimes read until like 4 a.m. and not get enough sleep that night. Sometimes I have to wait until we have a long break from the show because otherwise I have no sense of moderation when it comes to reading.
If it were possible, which book character would you like to see guest star on your show?
Oh, my gosh, I love this. Let's see. In all of fiction? I would love to have Bridget Jones. I think she'd be really fun. And she'd be a bad influence on Mindy. Like, can you imagine the sad shenanigans they'd get into? I think Ole' Golly [from "Harriet the Spy"] would be a great nanny for Mindy and Danny's baby. I never could have prepared for a question like this! It would be funny to see Mindy fight with the March girls [of "Little Women"]. I feel like she would fight with them all the time and be like, "This is so boring. Get me out of here!" And Mindy would probably hit on Odysseus from "The Odyssey."
Talk about what prompted your second book.
It felt like more happened to me between the first and the second book than I had ever imagined. It was all stuff that I wanted to write about but knew it wouldn't fit into the world of the show. And it was also good because I play a character named Mindy who is so different than who I actually am. I do want people to know that I am different than Mindy Lahiri and hear about my story of getting the show and all the roller coasters of where the show took me.
There's one essay in this book that is fiction -- about a blossoming relationship between teachers -- and the format you write it in is emails.
I loved having it be through email form. I love that as their form of communication, and, as everyone knows at this point, I love telling romantic stories, So that was really fun. That was the one I was thinking, if any could have a bigger life beyond this book, that was the one I'd want to make into something bigger.
Which book world would you like to live in?
Oh, my God. I love the book "House of Mirth," and I think that -- wait. It's not a very happy book. Wait. You know what book world I would love to live in? "White Teeth." I would love to be in one of Zadie Smith's books that take place in England.
I think that they are so -- the cultures that she writes about and the families and people that she writes about are so fascinating, and I would love to live in that world. Also, ever since "Go Set a Watchman" came out, I noticed people went out and bought "To Kill a Mockingbird" as well. I loved that book. I wish I could live on the same street as the Finches. Oh. Wait! The other book world I would like to live in is "Anne of Green Gables." Living on Prince Edward Island would be so badass.