Tuesday, January 14, 2014

30 Day Book Challenge: Day 5

30 Day Book Challenge: Day 5 - A book that makes you happy.

OK, I'm going to level with you and confess that this is and probably will be the hardest prompt for me. I've been thinking over the numerous books that I've read throughout my life, and I'm hard-pressed to think of one that makes me genuinely happy. I've mentioned my general literary focus in undergraduate and graduate school before, and as you can imagine, these books didn't make me happy. They engaged and challenged me. They taught me so much. They fueled my love of literature and intellectual curiosity. But they didn't make me happy.

Even the "for fun" books that I read these days don't really make me happy. I didn't discover a "for fun" genre that I really enjoy until maybe a year or two ago when I first picked up The Hunger Games and was like, "Young adult dystopian fiction it is." I'm not really sure why I like this genre so much (especially since there are a lot of truly awful books published in it), but I do, and I'm trying not to judge my preferences too harshly. I enjoy what I enjoy, and I want to give myself the freedom to just do that without overthinking and scrutinizing it to death. But again, even though I enjoy these books, they don't make me happy. Excited and curious and wanting to read more and find out what's going to happen next when the characters go a little bit deeper. But not happy.

That said, I think the book that has come closest to making me happy is Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).


I hadn't really thought of myself as a Mindy Kaling fan until I watched a few episodes of The Mindy Project last year, and I found myself laughing at her honest, relatable, and truly laugh-out-loud funny approach to life (see here and here). I decided to read her book this summer when I wanted something fun and humorous, and this definitely fits the bill. While learning more about Mindy Kaling's life, professional career, and rise to fame, there are plenty of hilarious anecdotes and asides to keep you doubled over. What I find so incredibly funny about Mindy's brand of humor is how she captures something so hilarious and so true about the experience of being a woman. I don't relate to her in every story (I've grown pretty weary of celebrity gossip, and I'm especially uninterested in what Beyoncé and Jay-Z are up to these days), but so many times I found myself laughing and thinking, "Yep, I've totally thought that, too!"

Mindy's section on her time as a babysitter/nanny was particularly hilarious. I think that most women (and probably men) have worked as babysitters at some point in their lives, and I found Mindy's descriptions of life with kids-who-are-not-your-own-kids so funny that I couldn't help texting particularly hilarious passages to my husband. When she describes how much she enjoyed eating all of the kid-specific food and then getting caught and thanking her young charge for helping her cover up this fact, it brought me right back to my days as a babysitter. There's something interesting and kind of about funny about being entrusted with such adult responsibilities but not quite feeling like an adult yourself. There's freedom, but also the intense fear that the parents will come home and discover that you're "doing it wrong." And Mindy captures that perfectly. She's also totally right - kid food really is the best. 

Mindy's book is a fresh, funny, and relatable read. And yes, it made me happy. 

1 comment:

  1. Given the proximity to the start of the new year (and the whole resolution thing) I found Mindy's quote "I am going to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Escalator maybe, baby steps." particularly relatable. See the first link.

    I agree with you that it is hard to think of books that just make me happy. I love reading, and if I had to think of books that are really enjoyable I would have a long list. But just make me happy? That's harder when so much of what I read falls into the genre mash-up categories that tend to start with murders (e.g. sci-fi detective, paranormal mystery, etc.). One go-to "happy" book for me would be The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. No other book (or series) has made me laugh so hard and brought so many smiles to my face. That is, and will likely always be a book that makes me happy.

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